December 22, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #26 (Happy Holidays)

And so it is Christmas time again. Let the festivities begin. 
2012 has been a big year...with joy, sadness, love and laughter. I'm so grateful to have experienced it all. 

I'm giving myself a little pat on the back for taking the leap and starting this blog, something I'd wanted to do for a while. I'm so glad I did. I feel very blessed to have shared my words and images with you, lovely friends and readers, and to have met many wonderful new people through this little blogging adventure. Thank you for your support, it is very much appreciated! 

The adventure continues next year, and I'm full of new ideas for the blog, including a  Wellness project I think will be fun! Until then... 

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday.  


December 19, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #25 (change is in the air)

I'm in a state of flux and I have to say I'm feeling excited, a bit scared and impatient!  I want everything to have happened yesterday. To fill you in... big news here. Things are a changing.  I've decided to say goodbye to my comfy home and job in Sydney and now I'm in limbo land in sunny QLD. I do like change and all the excitement that comes with it, new possibilities, people and environments, but all the uncertainty is proving to be rather daunting.

A few weeks ago the new plans all seemed to be going very smoothly,  I was dreaming of a new house amongst trees, a veggie patch, a new job and the picture was taking shape....and then I hit a bump in the road that brought me straight back to reality and the picture faded away. Sigh, doesn't reality suck sometimes! For the moment, a new house, veggie patch and job are still unknown and I'm trying to practice more patience. You know when you hold on too tightly to an idea and in the process kind of strangle it? Well... I think I was holding on too tightly, wanting everything to happen quickly without laying the foundations properly, and now I've taken a step back,  breathed out, and trying to let things happen more naturally. Learning to trust.  I'm feeling lighter already and shifting my energies to celebrating the last days of the year with friends and families and basking in the delightful season of Summer.

I haven't given up on dreaming just yet though, and as Anais Nin said so eloquently, 
"Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country".   
Gratitude for change and all that it brings, warts and all. 

December 14, 2012

Nourishing Weekend Recipes: Spinach Salad with Salmon

It's been so hot here these past few weeks that I've been a little reluctant to cook anything that would add further heat to the house. I can only eat raw salads so many times though before I crave something cooked. I could never follow a raw food diet, my heart just wouldn't be in it.

Seafood, particularly fish, is a good healthy option for Summer, and we are lucky enough to have a fresh fish market just up the road. So with fresh salmon fillets, tomatoes and goats cheese on hand I typed these 3 ingredients into a search engine and voila the first recipe listed was a perfect match.  I love sweet potato and think it can be added to almost anything! so I added baked sweet potato and made my own dressing with lots of lemon.  If you have any favourite Summer recipes I'd love to hear them, I'm looking for new Summer flavours. And if you're anywhere near Sydney before Christmas go check out the first of Real Food Projects new projects...a Pop Up food store in Darlinghurst. What a fab way to connect people to the story behind their food. The project supports sustainable, ethical and local produce and is definitely one to keep an eye on next year. Happy weekend all x.

Spinach Salad with Salmon Recipe

Adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe. As you can see I haven't been very specific about quantities, but you'll get the overall idea.
1 skinless salmon fillet
baby spinach leaves
1/2 punnet grape tomatoes, halved
sweet potato, diced
goats cheese, crumbled
handful of pecan nuts, use your hands to break into smaller pieces
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 squeezed lemon juice and zest
small garlic clove, pressed
splash of vinegar
a few sprigs fresh or 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

 Heat oven to 200C. Place diced sweet potato on oiled baking tray, place in oven and bake for 25-30 mins. Meanwhile place salmon, tbsp oil and a squeeze of lemon on a sheet of foil, large enough to fold over to make a parcel fillet, seal tightly on an oiled tray and bake in the oven for 10-15mins. Once cooked, cool a little, and then cut salmon into cube shaped pieces.  Meanwhile, mix all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. Mix all remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl, and toss through the dressing.

Serves 2

December 13, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #24 (birthdays and laughter)

Yesterday, the 12.12.12, was my Dad's 79th birthday. The last in the run of family birthdays for the year. It was a bit of a strange birthday, but I won't go in to that here. We laughed, ate homemade banana and date cake made by moi and celebrated a truly awesome man with a heart of gold.  Dad has taught me many things over the years and he makes me want to be that bit stronger, braver and to live more courageously each day.

Image: Ma and Pa living it up in Narrabeen, NSW 1972. 

December 12, 2012

Nourishing Recipes: Warm Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Quinoa, the wonder grain that isn't really a grain. Love it or hate it, quinoa has spread like wildfire and it's fast becoming a staple for the health conscious individual.  With the not so obvious pronunciation, 'keen-wah' ( and be sure someone will correct you if you mispronounce it), or keen-wahhhhh wahhhhh wahhhhh if you sit on the 'hate it, I don't see what all the fuss is about' side of the fence, a fairly high price tag and it being a food favourite amongst vocal health foodies ....well, I wouldn't be surprised if it's been coined the superfood for pretentious wankers. Ha! Reminds me of the recent frenzy sparked by Pete Evans' food choices such as alkalised water and activated almonds, featured in 'Day on a Plate' in The Sunday Life magazine.

Jest aside,  there are many really good reasons why I love's high in protein, it's actually a seed not a grain and is gluten free, it doesn't mess with my digestion, it tastes good and is super versatile. I'm still a little unsure on my position on the grain thing, to eat or not to eat. I do eat some grains, but I know there's lots of people out there with similar immune and chronic fatigue issues who have convincing reasons why they don't eat grains. Something for me to continue to ponder.

So how to prepare, cook and eat quinoa? I'm a huge fan of Wholefood cook Jude Blereau, and most of my whole food cooking tips come from her cookbooks. Quinoa Tip 1 rinse quinoa to remove its toxic, bitter coating. Tip 2 all grains (and quinoa) must be soaked before cooking. "Soaking delivers huge benefits to grain which all contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran and enzymes that inhibit digestion. As little as seven hours of soaking in water at room temperature with some acid (lemon juice, vinegar, whey, buttermilk, yoghurt or kefir) encourages lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break these down. Another huge benefit is that lactobacilli break down gluten and other difficult to digest proteins, and in effect, pre digest the protein" Jude Blereau in Nova Magazine. For more info on how to prepare grains check out this extract from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD.

After soaking a cup of quinoa for a few days I ate it for breakfast with raspberries, coconut oil and almond milk and made this quinoa salad with seasonal ingredients, lemon zest for zing and slivered almonds for some crunch, served with grilled white fish.

Warm Quinoa and Asparagus Salad Recipe
1 cup quinoa, rinsed, soaked overnight at room temperature with 1 tbsp sheep's yoghurt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp vinegar (apple cider, or your choice)
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
large handful green beans
baby spinach leaves
handful of slivered almonds
1 tbsp mint, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
red onion, caramelised; goats cheese, crumbled 
Rinse and soak your quinoa with 1 tbsp of yoghurt (or other acidic food-lemon, whey) overnight. Rinse and bring 2 cups of water to 1 cup quinoa (note: you may find you only need to use half of the cooked quinoa for this recipe, depending on the ratio of quinoa to veg you like, and if you're serving it as a main or side dish. If so, save half some of the quinoa for another meal). Simmer with lid on for approx. 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. 

Tail and top green beans and cut in half. Chop woody ends of asparagus. Steam beans and asparagus for 1-2 minutes, just enough to gently cook, you still want them nice and crisp. Meanwhile turn your grill on to medium heat. Oil an oven proof tray with a little of the olive oil. Slice tomatoes in half, or leave them whole. Mix remainder of olive oil with minced garlic. Place asparagus and tomatoes on the oiled tray, and brush vegetables with the olive oil/garlic mix. Grill for approx. 10 minutes, or until tomatoes browning and starting to sink. 

Mix quinoa with a little extra oil olive, salt, pepper, stir through lemon zest and add the remainder of the ingredients. I didn't have any red onions or goats cheese on hand but I think they would bring a perfect balance of sweet and savoury to the dish. 

Serves 4.

December 05, 2012

More gratitude. More hope. More love. #23 (summer lovin')

...had me a blast...summer lovin' happened so fast.

There's no mistaking that Summer has arrived; warmer, lighter days that extend into the early evening and wild evening thunderstorms. Yesterday was one of the hottest days on record for this time of year and I coped oh so badly! Humidity and heat never used to bother me, I used to seek it out, but since I've had chronic fatigue it really tires me out and leaves me wiped out. So I spent the day mostly tucked away inside, cooling down with mint ice cubes and this kind of like ice-cream blend I made in the evening... frozen almond milk, fresh vanilla, raspberries and a hint of xylitol for sweetness. Delicious. 

Aside from the odd too hot to handle day I treasure Summer for the long days and care free spirit it brings. The shedding of heavy clothes, evening swims, salt water on skin, magical sunsets, road trips, dancing outdoors, picnics, lazy days reading in the shade, cooling down in the darkness of the cinema and all the richly coloured summer fruits....oh how I love cherries, nectarines, straws and raspberries.

So for this new season I am grateful.

Images: favourite red sandals; sunset on my doorstep

December 03, 2012

The Plantation House

A short drive west of the highway that runs the whole length of the Gold Coast, is a small strip of cafes and shops with a warm and friendly village feel.  From a choice of two cafes on the strip we decided on the The Plantation House Cafe, it was buzzing, and when we stepped inside I almost felt like I was in Melbourne. Hallelulah!

The Plantation House Cafe is housed in an old heritage listed building with large open windows and folding doors, a back wall lined with vintage knick knacks, fresh flowers and a small grocery counter with fresh handmade and local produce. The result is old fashioned village grocer with a few modern touches.

Going all out I ordered a fresh juice, frittata and finished off with a pot of chai tea. I'm not a coffee drinker and so often disappoint in my lack of a useful response to the usual question of 'how was the coffee?' I do drink tea though and can be quite the chai critic.  I'm pleased to say the chai was delicious with a good balance of spices and frothed milk, needing only a hint of honey.

Coming from Sydney I can be a bit of a cafe snob, so I'm enjoying finding rare gems like this and discovering the GC ain't half as bad as I thought it was!  If you're in the area the cafe  is open for brekkie and lunch, Monday-Saturday. The menu focuses on fresh produce with a good selection of mains, salads, juices and a good display of old fashioned sweets- the coconut ice was very tempting!

Where: 1/43 Tallebudgera Creek Rd, West Burleigh.