It’s itchy knitted jumper time!

Image

We’re coming into winter now and you know what that means! It’s time to bust out the old itchy knitted jumpers! No? It must be cold and flu season then! Yay sick days…. Hmm… maybe not.

I can pretty much guarantee that come change of seasons, I’ll get a cold. I’m always looking for a home remedy before I turn to antibiotics. There is one thing I always do as soon as I feel something coming on and that’s taking some olive leaf extract.

While for me it doesn’t stop it in its tracks, it does lessen the length and severity of the cold. I had a look online at some more home remedies and here are some I came across.

Echinacea is said to have antiviral and antibiotic effects as well as boosts the immune system, relieves pain and reduces inflammation. Like Olive leaf extract, Echinacea should be taken at the first signs of a cold or flu. I have tried Echinacea in a liquid form before and I thought the taste was pretty foul, so I didn’t take it again after that. Olive leaf extract does the same thing, but when mixed with water is a bit more palatable.

Gargling a mixture of water and salt is said to help anything from a tickle in the throat to a sore and swollen throat. It helps to disinfect the throat membranes or moisten a dry sore throat. While also not very tasty, it does help.

When going to bed with a stuffed nose or chesty cough, try sleeping with an extra pillow or elevating your head. I do this and found it really helps. Working in childcare, we do this for kids who come in with coughs and colds. It helps to keep sinuses and chests from “filling up”.

An old one but a good one is hot tea with lemon and honey. The warm tea helps to soothe a sore throat and warm you up when you have the chills. Honey and lemon are both great for soothing and disinfecting a sore throat. The mixture is pack full of antioxidants and helps to fight the virus. I love this when I’m sick, I find added extra lemon helps to numb my throat as well.

Garlic and ginger are also great. Garlic help to boost your immune system and ginger helps to tame nausea. These can be added to chicken soup which everyone loves when they’re sick. This to helps when suffering from a cold or flu. The salty broth helps to thin mucus and the chicken contains protein to boost your immunity and produce disease fighting antibodies.

Then there is the tried and tested, steam. I always feel better after a hot shower when I’m sick. Steam helps to shrink mucus membranes and encourages them to drain. When I have the chills, I’ve found a hot shower helps to relieve it.

So what doesn’t work? Antibiotics attack bacteria and colds are viruses, so these don’t help.  The only reason you would take antibiotics for a cold is if it turns into an infection. You can take panadol or ibuprofen can help to provide short term relief for the symptoms of a cold and reduces a fever.

At the end of the day it’s best to try to avoid colds but maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle. This means regular exercise, healthy eating and maintaining decent hygiene, especially washing your hands!

Stay warm!

I quit! Sort of….

Image

Hi, my name is Danielle and I’m addict. My poison… refined sugar… You probably are as well but just may not know it. More and more research is coming out about the dangers of refined sugar. The damage it does to your body is quite scary. So I set myself a challenge, to quit sugar, being typical me I went in to it with all guns blazing. This didn’t work as sugar is in pretty much everything. I sat down for a few minutes to figure a few things out, I came to the conclusion that before quitting it all together I need to cut down and then phase it out over the following weeks.

The first thing to go was soft drink from the fridge and then the sugar from the cupboards. I threw them both in the bin. It probably took about 2 weeks to completely rid the house of sugar and replace it all. I also banned any artificial sweeteners from the house, anything that contains aspartame. We use stevia for a sweetener which is a natural plant derived sweetener.

Sugar is a real addiction. I can honestly say that I suffered withdrawals from it and it’s not pleasant the first few days because I was irritable, I had a headache and I was tired. I wasn’t the best person to be around. I knew though, that I had to see it through at least 2 weeks.

I did make it 2 weeks and felt amazing at the end of it. My skin looked great, the dark circles under my eyes were gone and I have never felt more positive about life than after those 2 weeks. However, it’s really hard to eliminate sugar 100% from your diet 100% of the time.

I decided to talk it out with Mum on the phone as she was doing the same thing as I. (I must add we were super inspired at this stage after attending a lecture by Dr Gabriel Cousens) In the end it came down to just doing the best I can.

The only bit of sugar I keep in the house is individual sachets of sugar for guests, otherwise Cameron now uses stevia in his tea and coffee and I don’t add anything to mine.  When I wanted to drink soft drink I found I could trick myself into thinking I was by drinking soda water. I think it’s the bubbles, whatever it was, it worked. Whenever I have a craving for something sweet, I eat a teaspoon of raw, organic honey. This is just enough to satisfy my taste buds, and it’s not a refined sugar, in fact honey has fantastic benefits for our bodies. The juice from lemons and limes in water was another way that helped to get rid of sugar.

If I go out to eat, I won’t deny myself but I try to choose the best option and if I have any sugar then I don’t have any for the rest of day.

What I have found is that if I binge on sugar for a few days I definitely notice. All of a sudden I’ll be tired again and lacking in motivation.

Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed. Do a little research and find out the truth about refined sugars. If you decide to cut back or quit sugar, find a way that works for you. Good Luck!

Baby, it’s cold outside

Seeing as it’s starting to cool down, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make some soup! Vegetable soup is probably one of the easiest things you can make. It’s a great thing to try when you’re just starting out cooking, plus it fills the house with a beautiful smell! I was planning on showing you how to make a roast, but quite frankly I forgot to take pictures. My bad! I’ll do a roast next time!

The great thing about vegetable soup is you can put pretty much anything in it, you can chop the vegetables anyway you choose and make it as rustic as you like. You can’t really go too far wrong when making a soup and the best part is most supermarkets I’ve been to sell packs of vegetables for making soup.  So here we go!

In this one I used; 2 carrots, leek, spring onion, garlic, brown onion, zucchini, capsicum, broccoli, mushroom, peas and corn.

Image

You’ll also need a tin of diced or crush tomatoes, 4 cups of vegetable stock and half a cup of Quinoa or rice. If you want you can add potato or parsnip.

Image

Peel, cut, dice and slice all your veggies, I kept my garlic, leek and onion separate from the others at this stage.

Image

Put a pot with some oil (about a tablespoon is all you need) on a medium – high heat, once heated put the onion, garlic and leek in the pot first, cook this for about 5 minutes on its own.

Image

Next add in the rest of the vegetables and stir and let cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. You should be getting some awesome smells coming out of the pot now!

Image

Next add in the tomatoes, stock and quinoa and stir.

Image

Bring to the boil, and then turn to simmer, cover and cook for a further 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Image

Now your super healthy, tasty soup is all ready to enjoy, see I told you it was easy!

I won’t be doing that again any time soon

Image

I thought to myself today “hmm I feel like a toastie, haven’t had one in ages”. So I looked in the cupboard and because today was grocery shopping day but I hadn’t done it yet, there wasn’t much. I opted for creamed corn and cheese.

I prepared everything and started cooking this great toastie, by this stage my mouth was watering and I was all of sudden starving. Being the impatient person that I am I let it sit for only a couple of minutes after.

First bite was fantastic, second bite was still good, third bite the filling oozed out. Spitting the food out and running for water screaming “the cheese is like molten lava!”  I did learn my lesson and shoved the whole thing in the freezer and well I forgot about it.

I took it out and it was an ice block. So I put it in the microwave to heat up.

Taking the next bite a bit more oozed out and fell on my chest, it was molten again. Needless to say I now have a blister from my molten creamed corn and cheese mixture and it’s in the bin. I lost my appetite after that.

So I sit here with a blister on my chest and blisters in my mouth, moral of the story? We all make mistakes but thank god no one was home to witness the molten lava, creamed corn and cheese event!

Did you know…

Did you know that ants are allergic to cucumber skin? I certainly didn’t,  I was going through some old boxes in the garage and stumbled across this book.

Image

I don’t ever actually remember reading this book or buying it, but it’s come in to my possession. Back to the ants, apparently placing cucumber skin where ants congregate in the home can deter them and soon they’ll avoid the spot!

Not only is the book beautifully illustrated, it’s also full of handy tips. It even has a section tell you how to tell if certain fruits and vegetables are ripe.

I’m telling you about this book because when you first start out on your own, these sorts of things can be quite handy lying around. In an emergency you can flick to the index and figure out that by rubbing toothpaste on small scratches on glass table tops may help conceal them… Actually I’m rather tempted to test some of these things out.

Lemon Juice is an excellent cleaner for glass table tops

Image

Image

OK, the lemon juice cleaned the glass table top, make sure you catch the seeds and don’t have any hidden paper cuts on your finger because the lemon sure did find one on me!

So I also tried the toothpaste trick and well it didn’t work. I wonder if I need to use the white toothpaste because they seem slightly more abrasive than the gel ones.

Here’s one, apparently using an eraser on dirty grout will clean it. Let’s go.

Image

Image

There was an improvement, but I probably wouldn’t go using an eraser to clean my shower, although I tested it in a few other spots and it did help budge some soap scum.

Water spots on stainless steel can be removed by polishing with rubbing alcohol.

Image

Image

Well that worked well. No complaints on that at all.

I like handy tips and tricks to keep the house running smoothly. Even though Cameron and I don’t have kids, we certainly have 4 fur babies. With 2 big dogs and 2 fat cats, the house can look as though a bomb has hit it.

P.S. Sorry for the missed post on Sunday, unfortunately my internet connection was slowed to Dial Up speed. To make up for this I’ll do an extra special post on Friday!

Lollies, Cakes and Chips Oh My!

Image

I’ve worked in childcare for a few years now and I still get shocked about what comes in kid’s lunch boxes  Now I understand that sometimes they might have a lunch box full of processed foods and that sometimes time doesn’t allow you to make the lunch they deserve. However, there are children who come day in day out with lunch boxes filled with lollies, cakes and chips, Oh My! Or sometimes you’re just running out of food, you haven’t done the shopping yet or so forth.

It can be tough to provide them with right foods. I know also kids can be picky, but the sad thing is I can see the results on the children who consume way to much sugar and processed foods. I’m not just talking about childhood obesity.  Like adults, children are affected by the foods they consume. The excess amounts of sugar and added food grade chemicals can lead to all sorts of behavioural problems and exacerbate mental illnesses.

So what’s the best way to work out what should be put in their lunch boxes? Think about the things that you like to eat; fresh fruit, vegetables and dip, salad sandwiches and so forth.  Time management can often be difficult with children and sometimes not a lot of thought goes into a lunch box. To save time, cook a little bit extra the night before, store it and give it to them for lunch the next day. (Childcare centres often have microwaves to heat food up) Or you can make their lunch the night before.

If you want to be super-efficient, after you do your weekly grocery shop, chop your vegetables and fruit in to sticks or cubes (or however you want) and store them in Tupperware containers in the fridge. This way when it comes to making their lunches, you can grab them straight from the fridge and into their lunch box  no time wasted cutting them up because it’s already done! Keep hummus in the fridge and put some in a container so they can dip their fruit or veggies in it.

What about when it comes to the sandwich? Try to keep away from white bread and rather than get it from the super market, spend a little more and get fresh bread from the bakery. Look for different alternatives to a sandwich such as wraps, salads or leftovers.

Now I’m not saint when it comes to eating, but I know I don’t want to be eating some of these foods been sold as “lunch box fillers”, so why would our children?

Eww, it’s green!

Image

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff on my Facebook feed about green smoothies. What on earth is a green smoothie I hear you ask; well it’s exactly what it sounds like. They’re a quick and tasty way of getting your daily intake of raw vegetables in.

A lot of posts I’ve read feature mainly fruit with kale added to make it green. While this is still good for you, a proper green smoothie should be made up of vegetables hence giving it its green colour. My mother swears by them!

Cameron on the other hand can’t stand them and if you’re in the same boat you won’t either, you’ll shriek and say “Eww, but it’s green”. You will, however, eventually get used to them.

I suggest starting with fruit and adding in mint and parsley, this makes it really sweet and tasty. Slowly build your way up to eliminating the fruit and incorporating more vegetables until you have a smoothie that is mainly vegetables with a bit of fruit for sweetness.

It really is as simple as that, place everything in the blender and blend away! You can make them creamy by adding in avocado or a banana. Try freezing your bananas, that way when you blend them it will make the smoothie nice and chilled so you don’t have to add any ice. A word of warning though, please don’t do what I did and freeze my bananas with their peel on, peel them first, no one wants a brown soggy banana!

So what’s so good about them? Vegetables contain so many vital nutrients that our body needs, cooking them reduces the amount and even removes these nutrients all together. Blending every together makes them easier for our bodies to digest and thus making these nutrients more bio-available for us. They also act like a scrubbing brush for our inside, cleaning and pushing down bad bacteria and toxins that build up.

My mother drink’s one every morning and think’s they’re fantastic. She’s been drinking them now for about a year and has noticed how great they make her feel throughout the day. She also say’s they make her less hungry, so she avoid snaking. My little brother is 14 and has been drinking them as well, for a teenage boy he’s has fantastic skin, his eyes are bright and he’s full of energy.

All I can say is give it a go, what have you got to lose?

Oreo’s, Kahlua and crazy cat ladies

When I first started cooking I feel in love with baking. I didn’t start out with very complicated stuff; actually I started making those cakes that come from the box. They always tasted good, but not great. So one day, thank god for Google, I started looking around for ways to alter a box cake. There are so many things you can do to change them and improve them. I started with box cakes because at the time I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t have a lot of kitchen equipment. So I set myself a goal, to make a cake from scratch the old fashioned way without fancy equipment.

I put this to the test when I made a chocolate Oreo cake for my best friend’s birthday. I had even memorised a basic butter cream recipe. Making the cake I thought about all the flavours that go with chocolate and what I could add to a basic chocolate cake to make it taste fantastic. I decided on Kahlua. There was so much in there that we probably finished up with an alcohol blood reading. It tasted great though.

The only thing that let me down was my decorating skills, or lack thereof. I like to think that I’m creative and artistic but my so called artistic skills have not developed past stick figure drawing. I enlisted the help of Cameron, and we created this masterpiece! It’s not just fantastic but funny as hell (I especially like the crazy cat lady and her cat). Plus my friend was super pleased to receive something that I spent hours making and decorating that had been made just for her!

Image

Image

Image

I guess what I’m trying to say is; don’t be afraid to try new and different things. Sometimes you stumble on to great things. In the end if it turns out crap, throw it in the bin and go and buy a ready-made cake and say you made it, or better yet serve to people and watch them squirm trying to think of nice things to say and then laugh about it. Life is all about trial and error and so cooking. There’s nothing to be scared of.

No motivation?

Sometimes I really struggle to get the motivation to cook, I’ll sit there and think about all the different things I can make, but will probably end up eating toast. So I thought I’d show you today a quick and easy meal to prepare that’s super good for you! I’m a vegetarian; the only dairy I consume is cheese (because frankly I love cheese).  I also try to eat a mainly raw diet, full of raw vegies and fruit, nuts and seeds. I’m not a fussy vegetarian either, I don’t eat meat because well I don’t particularly like it and I feel so much better now that I don’t eat it. If someone has used egg in something, or there’s milk or dairy, or even if it was cooked on the same surface as meat, I’m not going to turn my nose up at it. I appreciate that someone has taken to effort to make something and I’ll eat it! But I’m not writing today to convince you to stop eating meat; I’m going to show you how to make a raw salad!

Raw salads are quick, easy, full of flavour and really good you. You can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and it’s a great way to practice you knife skills because you don’t have to make much effort to make it look pretty, it’s going to do that on its own with all the vibrant colours! So here’s what you’ll need:

1 Carrot, cucumber, zucchini, capsicum, baby spinach (or any other type of lettuce you like), garlic, sweet potato, spring onions and apple

For the dressing, I keep a container of blended raw cashew nuts. I combine this with some rice bran oil, salt, pepper, parsley flakes, onion powder and turmeric. You can also use plain Greek yogurt instead of the cashew nut cream. You can also make the cream out of almonds or any other type of nut. Simply soak them in water for 3 or more hours (I soak mine overnight) place in a blender with some water and blend. It takes my blender about 5 to 10 min to get it super smooth. The consistency is up to you though.

I have all my ingredients on the bench ready to go, with a bowl for the salad and a bowl for scraps and rubbish.

Image

I start first with the carrot and using a vegetable peeler I peel the carrot into strips and place in the bowl. Do the same for the cucumber as well. Don’t throw away the centre of them either, we’ll use them later.

Image

Image

For the zucchini, I have a spiral thing from Tupperware that will turn it in to fancy spirals, but if you can’t do that slice them however you want, dice, slice or do the same as you did for the carrot. Seeing as I couldn’t find my spiral thing, (must have gone to the same place as my old vegetable peeler) I sliced them on an angle just to seem a bit fancy!

Image

The capsicum should be diced finely, along with the apple, garlic and sweet potato. I’ll like to use raw sweet potato because it tastes great. Slice the spring onion on an angle and combine everything in the bowl.

Image

Add the dressing and mix well. I also add some sesame seeds, chopped nuts and dulse flakes. Dulse flakes are great for seasoning instead of salt. I topped mine today with some feta cheese and some slice avocado. Yum!

Image

Look how well you’ve done! So simple, quick and tastes fantastic. Now you can sit down with a nice glass of wine and enjoy!

PS. Each Sunday I’ll be posting a new recipe, keep checking during the week for updates and tips!

Shopping lists, chips and biscuits!

Today is grocery shopping day. My favourite… can you hear the lack of enthusiasm in my voice? I don’t mind grocery shopping; it gives me a chance to see what’s out there and try something different. I can’t stress to you how important it is to write a shopping list, especially if you are on a budget.

The times I have gone to the supermarket without a list, I always end up way over budget. I’m on tight grocery budget myself so I have to be very careful. When I first met Cameron, my boyfriend, I’d go to the supermarket before each meal and just walk around until I decided what I wanted. This is the worst thing I could have done. I would budget $200 for the weekends, in case we wanted to go out, for food, drink and fuel. I’m not kidding when I say that each meal would come to around $50. I never wrote a list, I just picked up stuff and placed them in my basket. Not very smart, but this continued on for a while and I kept wondering why I was spending so much on 2 days’ worth of food.

As time went on and I spent more and more time at his place and I began to write a shopping list. The first few times I went shopping with a list and did the shopping I probably went a little to overboard. There was no reason why I had to buy 5 different types of dip! Then it hit me, I need to plan my meals ahead of time.  So I sat down one afternoon and drew up a meal planner. I swear by them, they take the daily hassle out of trying to think of what’s for dinner. My meal planner went up on the fridge and from there I wrote my shopping list.

From then on I rarely go too far over budget. Occasionally I have a large shop at about $300. This happens because I like to keep the pantry stocked with non-perishable items. These come in great when you’re running out of fresh produce; they can just be combined to create some really great dishes. Now, though, I have my weekly shop down to about $150 to $200. This covers everything, and I also allocate $10 in the shop in case I see something new I want to try. The only time I have to get extra is if we run out of milk or we entertain.

Shopping lists are vital for staying on budget, plus it takes the stress off you when you walk in and have no idea what to buy. Now the only cringe worthy part is the queue! Also, never go hungry. If you’re hungry before you go, you’ll be starving when you see all the food and think “sure I’m going eat 5 packets of chips and some biscuits”. Eat an apple or something else just to take the edge off.

I also suggest keep a running shopping list, each time you think of something add it to the list. I leave mine on the bench so Cameron or I can add things as we go. On the day of the shop, I sit down and read over the list. I remove anything that isn’t essential, if it can last another week, it can wait! Also because I love stationary, I got some really nice paper to write my list on, I swear it helps to keep me on track, plus it’s nice to look at it. 😀

I hope this helps to keep you on budget. I have a few friends who don’t write a shopping list and talk about buying unnecessary items and putting them over for the week. It’s not worth it, especially if you are trying to save!

Image

List in progress