November 30, 2012


A first here. A collection of blogs and other favourites that have tickled my fancy this past month. But before the list, did anyone see yesterday's full moon? It sure was a beauty. 

  • Age Old Tree my latest blog crush (and let me tell you it's a big crush). Ann marie documents so beautifully her love of literature, food and nature.  And whilst it's heating up down here as we head into Summer, I love seeing the contrast in seasons as the Northern hemisphere heads into Winter. Particularly loving the cabin series, check out the cabin: before the storm and at the cabin: the snow came and so we went out. Another post I love...and this sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with " has taught me that fiction is often closer to the truth than simple fact-telling".
  • Can't wait to get my hands on Frugavore, a book on growing your own, buying locally and eating well, which I discovered via this great review at Eight Acres. And yes it's at my local library!
  • Uttu - so pretty and dreamy.
  • This beautiful film.  

And lastly I'm grateful for an amazing scene I saw yesterday of black cygnets playing whilst being protected by Mama and Papa Black Swan (i took a video and have been trying to upload it all morning but alas my tech skills are less than proficient so no video (yet)). Yesterday morning before the cygnets and full moon I was having a bad day, expecting a piece of bad news, and definitely not feeling any gratitude. So before the 'bad news' was going to be delivered I went for a walk and was drawn out of the thoughts going around in my head and back into life. And as things go... I started to feel grateful, and the bad news...well there was none, in fact it was all good news!

Image: A house full of flowers, a picture I took a while back.

November 26, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #22 (sunday under the trees)

This is what happens when you sit under the shade of the trees, resting, watching, taking it all in....a bird goes by, then another, and then one comes closer to eat the crumbs near your feet and once done flies back to sit on its perch, then you spot a lizard basking in the afternoon sun, you notice a cute black poodle sprawled out having an afternoon nap, you delight in the cool breeze on your back...ahhh, this is peace and contentment on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

I hope you all had a little time to replenish and breathe in some fresh air over the weekend x.

November 23, 2012

Nourishing Weekend Recipes: Slow-cooked Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Carrots

Morocco has long fascinated me. The landscape and culture is so starkly different to my own that I can't help but be intrigued. Many years ago, propelled by this intrigue, I embarked on a Moroccan adventure, seeking new experiences and knowledge about the people, their land and their traditions and culture. Oh us humans are curious beings indeed!

With a small pack on my back, two changes of clothes and one of my dear childhood friends we spent one month exploring Marrakesh, Rabat, Essaouira and the charming town of Chefchaouen. I can still see the warmly coloured spices stacked up high along roadsides and in the depths of the souks. Imprinted and part of me now are are also the earthy colours of brown, yellow and red which is throughout the country, the desert backdrop to the city of Marrakesh, old men sitting in the streets smoking, and the vision of a group of women appearing along a desert road, their heavily decorated skirts shimmering brightly in the midday sun.  

Of course this is only one set of memories, there are others.... the confusion and fear I felt in a foreign land with little knowledge of the cultural 'rules', the usual (for me) set of stomach troubles that aren't really worth mentioning, the intense heat and getting lost on my own and vowing to go outside without my friend again. 

Food is a big part of the culture, with mint tea being shared many times throughout the day with family and friends. As in many cultures, meals are an opportunity to share time together, enjoying family and friends. This week the fragrant scent of cumin, sweet paprika and fresh coriander filled our house as I embarked on a Moroccan culinary journey of slow- cooked spiced lamb and vegetables. Slow-cooking will make  lamb easier to digest and very tender. The natural sweetness of carrots complemented the flavours of the spiced lamb just perfectly. 

If you're a non meat eater (and you found your way here somehow!) why not use the spice paste for baked pumpkin, cauliflower or vegetables of your choice in season.

Slow-Cooked Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Carrots Recipe

Moroccan spiced lamb
4 good quality organic lamb shoulder chops
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2-3 tbsps softened organic butter
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
Warm moroccan spiced carrots
2-3 large carrots, cut in half and then in long pieces on the diagonal (or other vegetables such as zucchini)
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
handful of chopped coriander, or to your taste
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne, optional

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Place lamb in a baking dish with sides that will contain juices (at least 1/2 inch sides). Mix all ingredients. If the mix is too dry add more butter. Rub the mix on both sides of the lamb, you want the lamb to be well coated. If you have time you can marinade them in the fridge for an hour. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes,  turn your oven down to 150C, bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and enjoy the sweet fragrance of spices wafting throughout the house. 

Meanwhile prepare the moroccan dressing for the carrots. In a dish combine all the dressing ingredients. 15 minutes before your lamb is ready, steam carrots until just tender. Strain and mix with moroccon dressing. 

Voila! And for the finish,  here's a traditional mint tea recipe. I must of drunk at least 3 cups of mint tea daily in Morocco..there's always time to sit down for a chat with this sweet tea.

Serves 4.

November 20, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #21 (gathered natural objects)

I've been a little distracted this morning, avoiding mostly mundane tasks, and went a wandering through Pia Jane Bijkerk's My Heart Wanders  project. That lead to this, and I stopped my wandering, happy and grateful to have found a peaceful spot to rest for a while. I think you'll agree it's very easy to get lost in the shapes, forms, textures, colours and details of these beautifully crafted gathered objects of nature.

Mary Jo Hoffman posts one image, daily of gathered natural objects found near her home in Minnesota for her project STILL, one I've added to my growing treasure chest of daily inspiration.

All images by Mary Jo Hoffman.

November 16, 2012


It's been a lovely sunny week with ocean swims, reading and ample time to make a mess in the kitchen.

Tomorrow I'm going on a little road trip down south, yippee! to the Ukitopia festival, a small community festival in, yep you guessed it, the town of Uki. Yippee! With a strong community focus the festival is run by the local arts collective showcasing live music, art displays and workshops. All this nestled amongst the beautiful surrounding mountains and rivers sounds good to me. 

Before I go, here's a tasty lentil recipe I made by Sarah from My New Roots, a food blog I discovered this week. I used leftover French green lentils I had stored in the freezer and as I didn't have all the ingredients I just used what I had. I did have fresh mint and coriander and they added that extra freshness. It really is one of the best lentil salad recipes ever!

If you're looking for something on the healthy and sweet side of things I did a spot of baking earlier this week from a 101 cookbooks recipe, and posted the recipe today- Rustic Carrot Cake Recipe. I'll definitely make it again, but next time gluten free for me. Delicious!   Enjoy x

French Lentil Salad Recipe

2 1/4 cups French lentils
1 medium red onion, diced
1/4 cup dried currants, or sultanas
1/3 cup capers
1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp strong mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or paprika)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp mixed spice
baby spinach, rocket
goats cheese
Fresh herbs: parsley, coriander, mint, basil
Fresh salad or vegetables

Prepare lentils- rinse lentils well, drain. Place in medium sized saucepan and cover with 3-4 inches of water, bring to the boil, reduce to a summer. Cook for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft, but are still holding their shape. Rinse lentils under cold water. For the all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix well. When lentils have cooled slightly, toss with salad dressing. Add onion, capers and currants. If using other optional ingredients add use before serving.

Serves 4

Rustic Carrot Cake Recipe

Growing up, dessert was always a much anticipated ending to the main meal in my family, from homemade cakes to plain old fruit and ice-cream. This week in an attempt to encourage dad to eat healthier sweet options, (because the truth is he's not going to forego sweets so better to accept and provide healthier options) I tested out this carrot cake recipe from 101 cookbooks which uses whole flours and natural sugar ingredients. 

Not your traditional carrot cake, I kept calling it a banana cake for a while, it's packed with dense and rich all natural ingredients. I stuck with using wheat flour, as using a gluten free option just would have been too 'strange' in dad's eyes. The natural sweetness of bananas and dates works really well, and I really like the inclusion of yoghurt and walnuts to increase protein and good oils. I made a few small changes, used half wholewheat and half white flour, replaced one of the eggs with 2 egg whites and used slightly less than 1/2 cup of dates.  Even with skipping the icing I still made a HUGE mess in the kitchen!

The result...success! Though dad did comment he could taste the absence of sugar, he enjoyed it and was very happy to eat another piece the following day.Next time I'd like to try a gluten free option using rice and amaranth flour as mentioned in the readers comments on 101 cookbooks.

Rustic Carrot Cake Recipe
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup good quality white baking flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped finely
110g unsalted butter, just melted
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1 egg and 2 egg whites, lightly whisked 

Preheat oven to 175C. Butter a 9x5x3 loaf pan or 8x8 cake pan and line with baking paper. Sift together flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in walnuts. Stir the dates into the melted butter, breaking up the dates into smaller pieces.

In a separate bowl combine bananas and carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps. Whisk in eggs and yoghurt. Add the flour mixture and stir gently until everything just mixed. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean in the centre of the cake - bake for around 45minutes if you are using the cake pan. Remove from oven and cool. Best stored in the fridge.

Makes one cake. 

November 14, 2012

Simplicity: Wise words on Healthy living.

The wise words of Aulus Cornelius Celsus (circa 25BC - circa AD 50). Roman Historian. His encyclopaedia De Medicina, is one of the best sources on medical knowledge in the Roman world.
"Live in rooms full of light
Avoid heavy foods
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sounds of running water
Change surroundings and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music."

Found in: Good Gut Bugs by Kathryn Marsden, pg 35

November 13, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #20 (bougainvillea in bloom)

A few glimpses from the weekend. The sun was out and bougainvillea flowers were in full bloom. My camera arrived back home safely from the repair shop, yippee, and I got straight back to playing around with the many mysterious functions I still have no idea how to use. Gratitude for the bright bold colours of the bougainvillea flower. And speaking of spreading more gratitude... Jodi at Che and Fidel  is grateful for the support she's had for her lovely blog. She's created a beautiful and calm space sharing tidbits on daily life. She's sharing the love around with a christmas giveawayincluding lots of eco friendly and handmade items.

photos...1. I loved this fresh tea, it was so calming and cooling. I drank it lukewarm and it was halfway between a tea and a cool drink. / 2. The ingredients of the amazing tea...fresh lemon, fresh ginger and mint. / 3. Bougainvillea in full bloom. They always remind me of Cambodia and there was some sweet synchronicity going on when I got a text later that day from my lovely friend Emma (who also lived in Cambodia) sharing her gratitude for the divine scent of frangipani's that remind her of Phnom Penh. Awesome! / 4. The garden path leading to the 'truest room in the whole damn house' (i couldn't go past borrowing this line from one of my favourite Regina Spektor songs, Reading time with pickles). / 5. what a great home entrance.

November 09, 2012


Papaya, a long time favourite of mine, is delicious, versatile, and boasts a long list of health benefits. As the weather warms up I've been craving more cooling foods and eating a LOAD of papaya... papaya breakfast smoothies, papaya with yoghurt and freshly sliced with a good squeeze of lime juice. 

To date I've mostly neglected the goodness of the seeds and discarded them, but with a new focus on 'waste less food' my awareness has increased and realised I'd been wasting a good part of the fruit! Whilst I had a vague knowledge that papaya and the seeds were good for digestive health, having eaten the seeds on the odd occasion when hit with a traveller's stomach bug whilst living in Cambodia (no they didn't work, but fair to say I probably only consumed a handful, hardly enough for a medicinal dose)! I hadn't really thought about using them in cooking.

Green papaya, papaya skin and papaya seeds all contain the enzyme papain, which does good things for our digestive health, including assisting to break down proteins and helping to eliminate parasites and other nasties. Here are a few more good reasons to eat your papaya seeds....Because papain acts as a digestive aid papaya seeds are a good choice to match with a meal high in meat or other proteins.  Papaya seeds are also said to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on our digestive systems. 

And if that's still not enough to entice you to eat more papaya, they are also a good source of antioxidants to protect skin against free radicals and promotes good heart health by reducing oxidisation of cholesterol in our arteries.

My conclusion. Eat more papaya! Wishing you a delicious weekend x

Green salad with Papaya Seed dressing Recipe

I made this simple salad dressing using fresh papaya seeds. Great over a plain green salad as a side, or add French green lentils and cucumber for a more filling salad. The seeds are quite peppery so start off using small amounts if your new to the taste. Note: If you are pregnant it is advised not to eat papaya seeds.  

      3 tablespoons Papaya seeds
      3 tablespoonsTahini, good quality hulled or unhealed. I used hulled.
      1/2 cup Sheep or goats milk yoghurt
      Lemon juice, about half a lemon
      1/2 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar, or other good quality vinegar
      Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a blender until seeds are coarsely ground.
Refrigerate and drizzle over salad greens.

Serves 4

Information source: Superfood Profiles

November 08, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #19 (the birthday season)

Birthday season is upon our family again. We have one birthday in each of the months of October, November and December. Today it's my mum's. It'll be a fairly simple affair with flowers, Spanish for dinner and a few surprise parcels to open. We feel in love with these cluster-flowered roses, also known as the 'The Sweetheart Rose', easy to see why. They do hint back to days of first dates and blossoming love (us girls did a good job picking them on behalf of our dad). Roses do tend to fall into the cliched flower pile, but on this occasion they were perfect to express the sentiment we wanted to share. Mum you're a little bit special (ok a whole lot of special!) and we love you. Happy birthday Mum x

November 06, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #18 (you have to be brave)

More love. Yes please! 

Today's Literary Jukebox on Brain Pickings is a playful passage on falling in love by Jeannette Winterson, matched with 'Falling' by Nitin Sawhney. If you haven't checked out Literary Jukebox yet, you must! It's the brainchild of Maria Popova, combining her love of literature and music. Each day she matches a favourite book passage with a thematically related song. It's definitely an add to your day with changing insightful and inspiring musings from brilliant authors and musicians.  

Along with gratitude for all the creativity and inspiration flowing through the world I'm also super grateful that my camera is still under warranty and I don't have to fork out cash that is not in abundance right now to get it repaired. I am very happy indeed!

What awe-inspiring online spaces do you visit for your fix? Share away in comments below x

November 03, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #17 (i love a good cafe)

Gov's Espresso Cafe

It's the weekend and I'm loving it! We've been driving past this cafe for months and commenting that we'd like to check it out. Today we got the chance to pop in for lunch and it was like walking into an old barn. Wooden tables and chairs, antiques, old lampshades, velvet cushions and hay scattered around the place. 

Gratitude for the divine watermelon and mint juice at Gov's, and the massage I'm about to have. 

November 02, 2012

Gluten and Sugar-free Ginger Spice Biscuit Recipe

Gluten and Sugar-free Ginger Spice Biscuit Recipe

I love this quick and easy to make biscuit recipe. They are light, easy on the digestion, and good for everyday.

150g gluten-free plain flour (I used Orgran's all purpose plain flour because I had it in the cupboard. I'd like to try it with rice and buckwheat flour).
150g butter, at room temperature
80g xylitol (here it really depends on how sweet you like it. Original recipe called for 90g caster sugar. 1 tsp sugar=1tsp xylitol, but I usually find you don't need as much)
60g ground almond meal
1 tsp ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice
1/4-1/2 vanilla bean paste (found in good quality grocers)

Heat your oven to 170C. Grab two baking trays and line with baking paper.  Place all ingredients in a bowl and using your hands blend until you have a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap (save and re-use for another time) and pop in the fridge for about an hour. 

Grab your rolling pin and roll out the dough on a lightly floured work bench until 1cm thick. Here is the fun part. Select the cutter shape of your choice (will yours be classic, fun, pretty?), cut away and lift onto the baking trays. If you need to re-roll the dough keep in mind that by adding more flour the dough mixture will be more crumbly when baked.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden on top. From my experience they are best eaten within 3 days if kept in an airtight container at room temperature or longer if kept in the fridge.

Makes 20.

(Recipe inspired by Manna from Heaven's Gluten-free Ginger and Cardamom Biscuits)

Berry Kale Smoothie Recipe

Berry Kale Smoothie

Not technically a very much in fashion 'green smoothie' (these are water based, there's loads of recipes on the internet), but still packed with lots of goodness. I put any powdered vitamins I'm taking (currently magnesium) in my smoothies, it's an easy way to get them down and disguise their taste!

1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4-1/2 cup berries
1 big handful of baby kale leaves (or other green of your choice- spinach, parsley, lettuce, cucumber)
1tsp-1tbsp chia seeds
1 large pinch of coconut flakes
1 tsp-1tbsp of flaxseeds soaked overnight 

Mix all ingredients in your blender until smooth. Yum!

Berry, Coconut Flakes and Chia Snack Recipe

Berry, Coconut Flakes and Chia snack

Super easy, yummy and surprisingly filling afternoon snack. Fruit for a natural energy pick me up. Chia seeds for protein. Coconut shavings give it crunch and that extra 'I'm having a treat' element.

Berries (strawberries, blueberries, mulberries), fresh or frozen.
Organic Coconut shavings (all natural, nothing added)
Chia seeds

As much or as little as you like.

Recipes for the Weekend: Three healthy gluten & sugar-free treats

My biggest food challenge eating mostly sugar-free is finding new ways to satisfy my love of baking and my love of sweet treats that taste good. I love trying new healthy cake and biscuit recipes made from real ingredients. The less refined and processed the ingredient the better. It does take a little more prep time using real whole ingredients, but with a bit of organisation and experience it becomes easier. Saying that, you don't want to get obsessed by every single little detail, if you're only going to end up unhappy and stressed. 

Flexibility and having a good hard think about what is important to you and for your body can be really useful. A good strategy is to work out what your negotiables and non-negotaiables are in the food department, and put in the best effort you can to achieve them. I'm ok with using ready made gluten-free flour blends or packaged unsweetened almond milk but I'm not ok with using sugar as an ingredient, so if I'm going to cook I'll make sure I have a substitute, such as xylitol or stevia, on hand. Good luck with discovering what works best for you. 

And now for the recipes. Three easy gluten and sugar-free sweet tasting delights on my radar this week. I hope you enjoy them too... 

Happy weekend x