Sunday, 6 March 2016

Trying Out The New Mobile App

Hello - it's been a long while since I have written, was off all social media (except Pinterest) over Feb; which turned out to be the perfect time, as we became rather busy! 

Tonight I am writing this on the new mobile app on my phone (let me justify that with a 'new to me', rather than just a general new)! I am intrigued to see if it will be easier, more portable & thus may encourage me to consider writing more. Maybe... 

So a lot of things have changed in the past month or so - I warned you 2016 is going to be epic, & it has certainly lived up to that so far! Although not everything is perfect of course, it has still been an amazing start to the year! I had hoped we would have two big pieces of news to share - it had started to look like Button had outgrown her allergies, which we were pretty excited about. We hadn't been able to give her dairy chocolate without very quick & strong reactions; but she can now handle a little bit of chocolate with no side effects at all - not even a rash around her mouth, this is a small miracle! However, as time went on & we upped her dairy intake, we noticed small reactions starting to show up again - as disappointing as this was, it is still progress, & it allows me to send her to parties without sleepless nights leading up to it. So we keep the dairy intake minimal at home (which isn't hard when her Dad is also allergic), so her system copes when she is away from home & people aren't aware.

On a more serious note - it appears Hubby's allergies are getting stronger and more severe... Not in a life-threatening severe kind of way, rather a full body sickness kind of way. For him - both gluten and dairy cause severe stomach problems, but they also cause lethargy & muscle pain, extreme tiredness, back ache & nausea. It's horrible watching him go through an attack - they seem to be happening more often now, & after less and less exposure. We tend to cut down on the allergens in the house, but he tries not to put other people out - so will have that cup of tea or coffee with milk, rather than make 'a fuss'... But we are slowly coming to the realisation that for his own health, & my sanity - he is going to have to start 'making a fuss', & take his own milk & food to places ALL.THE.TIME!  He is in bed early tonight due to another attack, small things like a couple of hot drinks out with milk in, a bit of cheese in the salad, & quite possibly a packet of chippies are all that have caused this attack. So it will be back to plain food, & back to the drawing board for us this week... He has been loosely following the low fodmap diet, but I am getting quite interested in the GAPS diet (Gaps stands for Gut & Psychology Syndrome), I have heard a lot of good things about it, & it appears to a way of eating that heals the gut, not just stabilises it. So once you have done the extreme cleansing part, you can then start to reintroduce foods, & some folk have been able to reintroduce allergen food with positive results. If you do it though, you have to be committed - it's a hard diet to follow initially... So it is something we'd have to decide together, & be prepared for some sacrifices. He also has fructose malabsorption, which I am still getting my head around - I am doing better, but will still make the odd dinner that doesn't sit well in him, due to just forgetting how fragile his system is *sigh*. The weight has been falling off him lately, it is a bit worrying as he isn't big anyway - he is a exercise freak, but has realised he is actually going to need to settle down for now, as it's not doing him any good (opposite to the vast majority of us). So he has quit biking the 20kms a week he was doing, & has swapped his running for walking - I am much happier about that... He has also quit coffee, & has found he sleeps a whole lot better, & is much calmer - especially with the kids. So lots of small but positive change happening, we just need to ramp it up a bit on the food side of things, so he doesn't have to suffer as much as he has been doing lately.

But - onto the best and BIGGEST piece of news... We have purchased our first home; it went unconditional on Thursday (not without it's hiccup's though, almost threw it all in)! We don't take possession until May 6th, which makes for a long settlement. This, understandably, was a big hiccup - the house is vacant, & I am sure that the Vendor would have preferred a shorter settlement, but Kiwisaver has been the deciding factor here, & after hearing 3 different stories from 3 different people - it has taken a while to decipher the truth & try to make it work for everyone.

BUT - WE STILL HAVE OUR OWN HOME! Which is worth capitalising, & worth remembering; it is worth all the stress & headaches at the end of the day!

It is very small (80sqm), & has been a rental for a number of years - so as you can imagine, it requires a fair bit of work (including a new kitchen)! But we have been lucky enough to prove the old adage right - worst house on the best street; & hopefully that means with a bit of work, it'll provide a useful asset! The idea is that within two years we going to extend & basically double the size of the house, & because we got such a good deal & it's in such a good area - we (theoretically) won't be over-captialising, even down here.

We have loads and loads of plans and dream's for this place, both outside and inside - but for the first two years it'll be cosy living... However I had 4 criteria:
- heat
- internal laundry
- bath 
- near the kids school

All of which have been met in this house as it is; so we'll learn to minimalist & declutter even more extreme than we have had to in the past. Hubby is truly excited about this, as he is a minimalist at heart & abhors mess and clutter; I on the other hand, am a clutter bug & am going to find it more difficult... The kids, currently, take after me - but it will be good for them to learn to live with less. I am hoping these will be lessons that will last a lifetime for us; as underneath I am a wannabe organisation & minimalist freak... I love the idea, I just can't live it!

Anyway, it is now almost 10pm, & I think I had better start thinking about bed... Another week of work ahead!


PS - won't be using it again;  had to end up emailing it to myself & saving the photos 3 or 4 times,  and uploading the post from our tablet... never mind,  now I am really tired! 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Join Me For 2016!

2016 is going to be EPIC!   

How do you see 2016 panning out? 

We are going to be buying our first ever home,  and I simply can't wait!  We're also going to be debt-free for the first time in a long time;  & we're going to be organised, this is the key of course!

My word for 2016 is: ORGANISE! I bet you worked that one out already, I haven't really got into the whole 'Word For The Year' thing before; but better late than never I say, and I have to admit that I have always been a bit behind the eight ball when it comes to trends though,  so it's no surprise really!

Wondering what I am going to achieve,  and how?  I am not 100% sure myself,  I have just started brain-storming... what I do know,  is that I have to stay ahead of the game,  and I have to start now (not on Friday)! 

Two big things that I know for sure I have to organise is:
- Family Finances
- Family Calendar

Tomorrow hubby is taking the kids out for a few hours,  & I am going to put together a budget for the year (in fortnightly segments,  as that is when I get paid) following a YouTube video series I found, that I think would suit us! I am very excited about this,  as it gives us the chance to set a budget & also track every cent we spend - thus showing us where we're over or under-spending,  allowing us the chance to reallocate money as necessary.  This is what we have been missing,  we had a budget - but it wasn't a tracking device,  so we never knew from day to day where we stood with it. Wasn't much use as a budget if you ask me... So tomorrow I plan on getting the template sussed, & then making another 25 copies.  As we reallocate the funds due to life changes (e.g. mortgage instead of rent), I can just go through and copy the changes over in the yet to be used templates!  

We need a family calendar as well - not only will this cover Meal Planning (as we both spend time in the kitchen), but also activities (play dates, sports, special school events), and everything in between e.g. extended family commitments, guests, church activities,  personal time,  couple dates, extra work commitments, MOVING DAY etc. It is meant to have everything accessible in the one place so we always know what is going on. As the children get older, their activities and social life will expand significantly - so if we can get this working well now,  it'll be easier for later on.

Again - I have seen a couple of tutorials on YouTube on how to make Google Calendar work for you;  if you're interested in either of these things,  just leave me a comment & I will post the links. 

I have got a whole list of things I want to get more organised in - both personally, family orientated and professionally.  But the two areas above are the two big things that everything else hinges on.

I might post more soon, once I have set these things up & have worked out the other areas that need help!  

But until then,  I hope your 2016 is looking as fantastic as ours is! 


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Christmas Crescendo...

And you thought it was all over...

But seriously, what I am sharing this time will be considered, in my family - the Christmas Crescendo! My children love Ginger Biscuits (especially when I take the time to make them into Gingerbread Men of course), it is their favourite and what they ask for if given the choice! I made a batch last week, for this recipe a batch consists of about 35-40 biscuits, depending on the size I roll them out. I was expecting them to last the week, I made them Sunday and they were finished by Thursday - I am not exaggerating! I have had two out of three sister-in-laws ask for the recipe, as their children (and they themselves) also love my ginger biscuits; and I have had no end of compliments when taking them out. I would blow my own whistle, but I don't have too - they're that good!!!!!

I am not here to discuss my ginger biscuits however, but I just wanted to explain why the recipe below would be considered the Christmas Crescendo in my house...

Imagine the kids faces when they bite into Ginger Muffins with Gingerbread Cream; the delight would be exuding out of them as they demolish these little morsels of delight. Again, I think this one will be saved for a special occasion at home - I sadly lack the time to put together this for Christmas Day, but I am salivating at the thought of them; and will be trying these out for sure!

Once more, the link to purchase this little gem of a book is:

(and once more - this is an affiliate link, which means when you purchase the book through this link; I will make a percentage of the sale).

This is one of the best investments you'll make regarding your health, and Christmas for the future - these words don't normally get linked together; but there is a change coming and people are starting to move away from the sugar-high's. Here is a resource that allows you to eat familiar foods, but in an unfamiliar way - a healthy way; you wouldn't know the difference, and yet your body will thank you for it! And if these recipes don't make you want to go out and buy it, be assured this book covers many more old favourites and new idea's; check out Lisa's write-up below:

I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the present giving and, of course, the food. Christmas is the time when kitchens smell like gingerbread and eating cold pudding for dessert is not only accepted, not expected. It is my favourite cooking time of year! With all that Christmas food, countless parties and leftovers it can be easy to over indulge in just a bit too much Christmas cheer. What if I told you there was a better way? A healthier way to eat your festive treats without feeling the post party guilty or that you’ve lost your way? That’s what this book is for. Mummy Made.It a Healthy Christmas is filled with over 50 healthier treats and desserts for the festive season for you and your family to enjoy…one guilt-less treat at a time.

Over 50 Festive Recipes

And if you want to check her blog out; this link will take you through to her blog, where you can also purchase her book 'A Healthy Easter'!

So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Nothing says Christmas like Gingerbread, and what better way to eat your share than as a cupcake!

Serves: 8-10 Cupcakes Preparation Time: 10 Cooking Time: 20 minutes

4 Eggs, separated 
1/4 Cup. Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Golden Syrup (or Molasses)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
1/2 Tablespoon Cocoa
2 1/4 teaspoons ground Ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon All Spice
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Dash Salt
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Milk (of choice)
1 teaspoon Bicarb Soda

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
Line a cupcake/muffin tray with 8-10 festive liners and lightly spray.
Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a kitchen stand mixer and whisk on medium/high until soft peaks form.
Add the maple syrup and then golden syrup, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all incorporated and the egg white has increased in volume.
Whilst still whisking on med/high add the vanilla extract and egg yolks.
In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients (excluding the bicarb soda) together.
With the whisk on low add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk only until combined.
In a small saucepan, warm the milk until almost boiling. Immediately add the bicarb soda. Stir.
Pour the hot milk into the mixing bowl (the whisk should be on low to prevent hot milk from splashing over you).
Evenly pour the mixture amongst the cupcake liners.
Bake for 17-20 minutes or until cooked through (17 for minis, up to 20 for regular)
Leave it cool in the tray for 15 minutes before removing.

Top with Gingerbread Whipped Cream.

Gingerbread Cream

Serves: Makes 1 1/2 cups Preparation Time: 24 hours Cooking Time: 5-10 minutes

1 can Coconut Cream/Milk (400ml), can opened and left in the fridge overnight
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Golden Syrup
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
Dash Cloves
Dash Cinnamon

Spoon the thickened cream out of the can, discarding the watery remains. 
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a kitchen stand mixer with a whisk attachment fitted.
Whisk until the cream thickens (about 5 minutes).
Place the cream in the fridge to thicken before piping onto the cupcakes.

So there you have it... three gorgeous recipes, enough to make you want to go here to buy it! Please!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Decadence at it's Best...

I am here again today to tempt you with some more amazingness! If you didn't quite get enough with the Orange Chocolate Truffles last time, then this will seriously tip you over the edge... this looks seriously decadent, seriously delicious, and mouth-wateringly desirable!

Rocky Road Marshmallow

It is also gluten-free, dairy-free and refined-sugar free; which may have you asking what on earth could be in it. Let's just say, you may not be able to eat more than one piece due to how rich and scrummy it is - but you CAN eat more than one piece without feeling any of the guilt you normally get when consuming this type of stuff, and without getting the sugar-overload you would normally get.

To be honest - I am not sure if I'll be making these for Christmas, as I don't think they'd last long enough... call me selfish, but I think I will be saving this recipe for a special occasion 'just for us' at home!

Once more; here is the link you can use to purchase this book; the healthiest and most guilt-less Christmas Recipe book you'll ever buy, it's the only Christmas Recipe book you'll ever need, and one you'll be going back to over and over again, and not just at Christmas... any occasion is a good occasion for Rocky Road Marshmallow, right!

And here is the recipe, just to keep you coming back again and again:

Serves: lots of pieces, depending on size of cutters 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Resting Time: 4 hours

Christmas time doesn't mean you have to miss out on treats. This Rocky Road Marshmallow uses left over cookies, nuts and berries to make a family friendly party treat. Use festive cookie cutters to give the Rocky Road Marshmallow a Christmas makeover.

1 Egg White
3/4 Cup Maple Syrup/Honey
200ml water
2 Tablespoons Gelatine
2 Tablespoons Cocoa, unsweetened
3 Tablespoons each Arrowroot and Cocoa

1- 1 1/2 Cups Biscuit pieces 
3/4-1 Cup Desiccated Coconut
3/4-1 Cup dried cranberries/raspberries etc
1/2- 3/4 Cup Nuts (macadamias, pecans etc)
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chip Pieces

Place the egg white in a clean bowl of a kitchen stand mixer with a whisk attached. 
Pour 100ml of water into a small bowl/cup and sprinkle gelatine over. Allow to sit and thicken for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Pour the Maple Syrup and 100ml of water into a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. 
Once boiling, add the gelatine mixture and whisk to combine. 
Bring to the boil again and boil for 30 seconds.

Turn the whisk onto medium and pour the hot mixture down the side of the mixing bowl. 
Once added turn to high and whisk for 5 minutes.
Turn off and sift Cocoa over Marshmallow mixture. 
Return the whisk to high and whisk for 6-8 minutes, or until the Marshmallow fluffs up and becomes thick. 

Add the selected options and fold into Chocolate marshmallow mixture. 
Pour mixture into a lined tray/casserole dish (the size/depth of the tin will determine the size of your Marshmallows) and leave at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.

Cut the Marshmallow into pieces or cut into shapes using cookie cutters.
Combine additional cocoa and arrowroot, and roll each piece of Marshmallow in it (this prevents it from being too sticky).

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

This recipe requires a few more ingredients, and a bit more time in preparation... but it looks SOOOOOOOOOO worth it! And I am sure once you have tasted this, you won't be going back to the sugar-laden, additive and preservative filled, factory made, shop bought old one!

You can thank me later... after you have finished that second mouthful (or was that the third; I won't tell)!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas With A Difference...

This year we're going to be doing 'Christmas With A Difference...'! And I have a little secret to help me; which I am excited to share with you, as it may just be something you need as well!

This year we are hosting Christmas - so we have my family here, and we also have my in-laws, and possibly another two couples from church; who may not have anyone locally to celebrate with (final details have not yet been ironed out)! So I am quite excited, but wondering if maybe I have bitten off more than I can chew with working two jobs as well, eeeeek!

I think the thing I am most excited about is the fact that I can show off to people that eating gluten-free, dairy-free and often times fructose-free; is totally doable, and can be very yummy as well! I am also excited, because it means my children and my husband will have a 'safe' Christmas, and can eat pretty much everything provided... Last year wasn't so good, with both my husband and my son becoming quite ill after Christmas, due to allergies and eating the wrong foods (despite our best efforts to keep the children safe).

And my secret weapon this year is this:

I am very lucky to have had an early release of this book to look through (although this blog post is awfully late), and to share with you all; being up front - I am an affiliate for this book; so if you're interested in purchasing it, then please click the link below, as this then means I get a percentage of the sale. If you like the book, then I encourage you to send your friends and family here to do the same:

To give you an idea of just what you'll be getting when you purchase this book, I have some recipes which I can share with you... these little balls of deliciousness are going to make it onto my Christmas table this year, without a doubt! So few ingredients, and so little preparation needed - absolutely perfect for the busy, working Mum like myself!

Orange Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Orange Truffles

These simple and delicious treats are easy to prepare and make the perfect gift.
They are Gluten Free, Vegan and Paleo Friendly

Serves: 13 truffles  Preparation Time: 10 minutes

1 1/2 Cups Dates (only soften the dates if your blender is not strong enough)
1 1/2 teaspoons Orange Rind
1/3 Cup blanched Almonds (or another nut)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup or Honey
1/4  teaspoon Cardamom
1 1/2 Tablespoons Cocoa
1/4 Cup Desiccated coconut

Place all the ingredients, except the coconut, in a blender and process until well combined.

Divide the mixture into even portions and roll into balls.
Roll the balls in the coconut and refrigerate.

If you're still not 100% convinced, then pop back later this week; as I have two more recipes to share with you as well!

And once I am more organised, I will share with you our entire Christmas Day menu... this is the next thing on my list to finalise! But one thing I can guarantee, is that these truffles will be one of the snacks available to my guests to enjoy!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

One Year Toko-Versary...

Can you believe it,  we have been living the small town dream now for just on 12 months!  This year has flown by, and yet in many ways it feels like we have been here forever!  It has been a momentous year for our family - so much change happening, and so much growing up has taken place! 

From this:

To this:

We arrived down here with two preschoolers,  one still in nappies & sleeping in his cot (ok, so maybe he was still technically a toddler), & still waking up 2-3x a night.  Now we have a school girl who is reading WAY above her level,  & a kindy boy out of nappies (day AND night), sleeps in a big boy bed, & 85% of the time sleeps all the way through the night. 

We have gone from a traditional family where Dad worked full time & was gone long hours every day, and I was the stay at home Mum; two both being at home full time for six months,  to me being the main income earner - working two jobs and gone long hours. 

We have gone from a huge 4 bedroom / 2 bathroom,  open plan modern house with 5 acres of land surrounding us... to a small 3 bedroom 1950s house,  small rooms & the nastiest kitchen I have had to work in! And having a 'proper' backyard surrounded by neighbour's,  not animals! 

We have gone from driving 15-20 minutes to get to the nearest shop, to having shops within walking distance... from having a child at home 24/7, to having one at school 5 days a week and one at Kindy 3 days a week. 

Yes,  it has been a year of momentous change for everyone in my little family.... next year is looking bigger and better,  with the hope of purchasing our first home,  and hopefully hubby starting to earn some money doing his thing! 

I probably should have started drafting this post a little while ago,  as I am sure there are many other things I have missed mentioning - but I have lost my mojo tonight...

However, be on the lookout for a post about Christmas coming your way! I am pretty excited about this one!


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Allergy Update

I thought I would give you an update on how we are doing allergy-wise. It has been an interesting few days here as we work through yet another hump in the road, but I am sure things will work themselves out; just like they normally do! 

She is off dairy only,  we had been quite strict on her for the first half of the year; but started to get a bit lax lately - allowing baked goods from the supermarket, and letting others give her stuff without checking it first.  But we got a fright the other week, she had some normal chocolate given to her - we allow dairy-free dark chocolate only at home, but we let it slide this time.  Well not only did she have her normal rash reaction over her face, but she started freaking out about her mouth and throat being itchy. Oh my gosh - I haven't been so scared in my life, we gave her some water and watched her like hawks for the next few hours... thankfully nothing else happened. However this has since happened a second time, and it was just a supermarket biscuit that brought it on, so back to very strict dairy-free diet for her; poor girl,  but I am grateful she is now old enough to explain & vocalise these things! 

Our little monkey

The child I had thought was my 'allergy-free' one, turns out I was wrong... way wrong!  Come Christmas last year,  we decided that by 2.5 years old,  'lil M was past the age of having regular diarrhea and we needed to work out what was going on. After a rough Christmas for him, we took the bull by the horns & took him off dairy;  it seemed the most logical cause of action after some research, especially as it was already in the family. And what a rapid response - we started noticing change within 48 hours,  and after six weeks he was 'normal', & I felt brave enough to start toilet training him. It was a fairly simple transition with Button already having to be off dairy (although we had slackened off a bit with her at that stage). Both kids responded quickly and confidently to the changes - we are very proud of them; we are also very blessed to live in a supportive community,  with friends who have been so good at accommodating our needs. 

This weekend,  for example,  we were invited to a 5 year old birthday party.  My friend made everything dairy free for my children,  including the birthday cake.  So blessed. 

Since then poor 'lil M appears to be reacting to something else;  these past few weeks he has been struggling to eat his dinner. Initially we thought he was just going through another fussy stage, so we tried everything to encourage him to eat; including letting him go to bed with no dinner - figuring the hunger would be enough for him to change his mind.  Nothing has worked, he went to bed happily & slept through as per normal, you'd have thought we'd have realised something was wrong at this stage, especially when he stopped eating meat (my son was a carnivore)! Then I really started to notice his tummy at night was unusually large - I mentioned it to hubby, but until I showed him these photos;  I don't think he was aware of the extent of it: 

Left - after a very small dinner on Sunday evening. 
Right - Monday morning after breakfast. 

My poor baby. He has also gone back to loose bowel movements; so obviously something is wrong.  At this stage we are still not sure,  but we have made the decision to take him off gluten - all his symptoms point to this,  and with the family history it just makes sense.  So the idea is that we will document & photograph his reactions over the next 2-4 weeks. If things aren't changing the way we're expecting them too, then we will be taking him & the information to the Dr; but if there are big enough changes to his tummy & eating habits - we'll just keep doing what we're doing. 

So it has been a stressful few days trying to decide what is best for him,  and how to help him... he is happy enough in himself,  so while he is bloated and uncomfortable he is not in major pain. 

Here is hoping this will work. 

He is both dairy and gluten free,  and recently we have come to the conclusion that he is struggling with fructose malabsorption.  This has been a big hurdle for me,  it wasn't something that I had heard of before,  and it meant really changing up our 'normal', as he now needs to be on a low fodmap diet - this is not a fun diet,  but it does make for a happy and healthy hubby!  

I will probably try writing another blog post on the changes low fodmap has meant for us, but tonight I am tired and have a cold,  and just need to go to sleep. 

So good night dear friends. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Kinda Healthy Cookies...

I am, one day, going to manage that 'one post a week' I keep promising myself... but right now, if I manage I am thrilled; but if I don't - never mind, the world doesn't come crashing around me, nor anyone else!

I just wanted to pop in and share a recipe with you - I came up with these cookies a couple of weeks ago, and not only do my kids like them (YUS), but I also shared them with some workmates - and three of the ladies asked for the recipe! So I figure this must be a winner, and thought I would share it with you also!

Kinda Healthy Cookies

2c wholemeal flour
1c crushed cornflakes
1c rolled oats
1c chocolate chippies 
1c raisins (or dried fruit of your choice)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder

150g melted butter
120ml olive oil (or just add more butter)
2 tsp vanilla ess
1/2c brown sugar

Melt all the liquids and brown sugar together.

Place all dry ingredients into a big bowl, and mix together well (sift what you can if you'd prefer).

Pour wet mixture into dry, mix well together and then shape into biscuits.

Bake at 180oC for 15 minutes.

Makes approximately 40 biscuits, and should last a good week.

These biscuits were a bit on the crumbly side; so there are notes at the bottom of the post of what I will be subbing, in order to attempt a better consistency next time.

To make these dairy free:
* Use dark chocolate chips; we use Pams, but always check ingredients list first; these are full of preservatives, but not dairy. This is our compromise due to being on a tight budget... I would love to buy more expensive, organic proper dairy-free chocolate chippies; but they will have to wait until I can justify the expense!
* Use a dairy-free butter substitute; we use sunrise margarine - it's one of the cheapest on the market, and is close enough in flavour that I can cope! We did try olivani when my daughter first came off dairy; but she reacted to that as well (not sure why), so sunrise it is.
* Substitute some of the butter / olive oil for coconut oil (I will be doing a total swap with the olive oil next time I bake these, this last time we had no coconut oil left).

To make these gluten-free:
* Swap the wholemeal flour for a gluten-free flour; I think most flours would work, but you will need to add xanthum / guar gum if they are more natural flours. I will be trying the plain g-f mix we have at home next time, to make it safer for hubby.
* Check the rolled oats are gluten-free; most rolled oats aren't due to cross-contamination with wheat when growing or being processed. However, rolled oats in themselves are considered gluten-free; however celiacs are recommended to stay away from them, although those with just an intolerance (like hubby), can sometimes stomach them. What rolled oats do have is a protein in them called avenin, that about 20% of celiacs and gluten-intolerant folk can't handle; so it is just safer to stay clear of them in general. Initially hubby couldn't seem to tolerate even small amounts of oats, but lately he is coping better - so we have been able to reintroduce a small amount of oats back into his diet (yay, something going back in, and not coming out)... So these biscuits would be safe for him if I subbed the flour out.

To make refined-sugar free:
*Swap the 1/2c of brown sugar for 1/3c honey.

My Notes:
Next time this is what I am going to be trying:

* Swapping the olive oil for coconut oil; coconut oil has better bonding agencies, so I think this will help with the crumbling.

* Swapping the wholemeal flour for a gluten-free flour, as hubby really enjoyed these cookies as well.

* Trying it with honey instead of brown sugar; I found with the cinnamon, sugar and raisins - it was quite a sweet cookie (hence why the kids enjoyed them), so am hoping the honey will tone it down a little. Plus honey and cinnamon are a match made in heaven!

* Possibly attempting to mix it up in the food processor; although this makes a big batch so it won't be done altogether. I was told that quite often the chunkier the mixture - the crumblier it is; so by using the food processor, it should help thin the mixture down a bit (especially the oats and cornflakes), and that might help with the crumbles.

* I might swap the raisins for a different fruit (probably apricots)... but we'll see.

If you give this recipe a go, please let me know how it goes... especially if you try some of the subs I have suggested, but not yet tried myself!

Monday, 20 July 2015

I'm Back With More Food (for thought)!

Although don't get me wrong - it's not deep stuff on a Monday night... in fact, it is more about the 'real' food (as in the tangible stuff we eat), than thought-provoking words. 

I have been regularly back into menu-planning again, but haven't bothered to post them here. I was rather blogged-out and was wondering if I was going to even keep this little space alive. But I am getting inspired again now, so at least at the moment things will remain as they are... although I do need to desperately spend some time on the blog and update it! Eeeek; the little baby on the top of my header is now almost 3.5 years old, and my 'big' girl is at school! WAY past time for an update. I am also in two minds about where I want to take it - might need a whole fresh start! Thoughts swirling around and around in my head at the moment... whatever decision I make, everything requires time and commitment, neither of which I have much left of now I am working full-time.

But whatever happens, decisions need to be made; as the blog is almost dead these days! However, I do know my Mum and my lovely Aunt both read it, and miss it when I don't get around to writing often; so thank you lovely ladies!

I am trying to find a system that works best for us with the menu-planning; not only does my husband do most of the cooking now (as long as I do the planning), we also have to work around numerous allergies and very tight budgets. So it makes life a little interesting; another challenging dilemma for me is now differently hubby and I work the budget and also grocery shop. My method was one big shop at the beginning of each fortnight, and then hopefully save enough to do a top up or two throughout the fortnight of fresh fruit / veggies, bread, milk and whatever else ran out. Inevitably I ALWAYS overspent the budget, no matter how hard I tried - food is a sticking point and a rather weak link for me! Hubby tends to do lots of little shops through the fortnight, however this for me makes it feel like the pantry is always empty - as there is always something that has run out; drives me insane! But he always keeps within the budget, and inevitably there are regular little treats (today I came home to be told by very excited little children that Daddy had bought ice cream (dairy-free Lite Licks I might add) and chocolate chippies) hmmmmmm; we never had that kind of treat when I was in charge, especially at $7 for a litre! The kids think it is fantastic... but I am still struggling a bit over the changes!

Anyway - I have downloaded a menu-plan from Kidspot here in New Zealand, the article I have linked up here has a number of other templates, as well as the one I have used above. And the idea is that I keep a copy of the menu-plan, and the recipes that go with it; and start to file them away in here:

A gorgeous Recipe Organiser I got for my birthday a few years ago... I love it, but have never managed to start filling it out. I am not yet sure if the lay-out will work for us, I might need to start my own binder, or rearrange this one (it is so pretty, it would be a shame to not use it). The only problem is, of course, is that it is made in America and thus the inside binder rings don't fit with our hole punches; gah!!!!! Might have to see if work has a hole-punch the same size, and punch holes for my recipes there! So frustrating, and one of the things that has put me off using it in the past; I don't want to write up all my recipes, I'd rather print them out and then just add them to a binder under the correct categories! 

Because of all our, ahhhh - challenges, when it comes to cooking, I want a folder full of inspiration that is safe. Currently no book caters for EVERYTHING; it might be gluten and dairy free, it might even be gluten, dairy and refined sugar free, BUT it will always use loads of dried fruit and honey - two things hubby can't eat a lot of due to his fructose mal-absorption, along with garlic, onion and numerous other fresh fruit and veggies. You would think fresh fruit and veggies and other whole foods would be safe and extremely good for you... not so for those with fructose mal-absorption; but more on that another day.

So with all these challenges in mind, and taking into account the tight budget and my lack of organisational skills (or should I say my lack of motivation); I am thinking on starting a blog that covers these issues within New Zealand. There are literally hundreds of blogs in America that deal with allergies, home-making, organisation, budgets etc, I know - because I follow lots of them, and keep finding new ones! I am like a kid in a lolly shop - more, more, more! But so often the content just isn't suitable for us over here in New Zealand, or for us with food allergies... and there is very little over here in New Zealand that cover all these categories in one space.

But - obstacles are, as mentioned above - my lack of skill and lack of organisation, my lack of motivation to continue tasks once I start, my lack of time and commitment, my lack of inspiration and my current lack of resources!

However, despite all of the above - this is my passion, this is a driving force in what I do, this is how I want to help people, and where I want my focus to be later on, when I no longer have to work full-time. But I can start this now, I can take steps towards these dreams... this blog is a small stepping stone, if I can commit to just doing one post a week initially and then slowly build up my resources - maybe my dream can start to take root, and grow a little. I also want to teach people budgeting skills and basic cooking; emphasis on cheap but nutritious meals (not necessarily allergy focused initially). I can do these things, I know - because I have spoken to our Pastors, and they are more than happy for me to use our church as a base to take classes on either budgeting or cooking. I can do budgeting courses through CAP New Zealand and through Family Budgeting (NZ), there is also Sorted and other places within New Zealand that can probably help me as well. There are a lot of little steps I can be taking, to see this dream blossom and grow in the future... everything starts with a single step. 

Stay tuned to see what mine will be... one day; when time and commitment collide! 

Where our menu-plan sits... 

One day, when we can afford to build our own place, and I get to design my dream kitchen - there will be a blackboard set up specifically for me to share the weekly menu plans with the whole family, and there will be a chore board, and an activity planner, and a scullery where I can hide all my appliances and bulk buying, and... and... and...

Ahhhhh yes; one day... when money and dreams collide!