Cooking, Renovations and Fun Stuff

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pear & Greens Smoothie

This morning’s breakfast

pear greens smoothie

Pear & Greens Smoothie (makes 2 serves)

In a high-powered blender, blend together

- 3 generous handfuls kale or spinach leaves

- 1/2 a small bunch flat-leaf parsley

- 2 ripe pears, cored

- 1  cup almond milk


Adapted from this recipe from the Food Coach

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fruit & Veg Friday

We were using a really good organic fruit and veg delivery company at the start of the year, but the business isn’t operating at the moment as the owner is overseas. We’ve tried a few other places but haven’t really been happy with what we’ve been getting.

On Wednesday I tried somewhere new, Organic Origins. Since I’ve been having a lot of smoothies lately, I was quite happy to see they had a Green Smoothie Box. I was a bit late putting in my order, so just opted to get an OMG! Quick Box to cover the rest of our fruit and veg needs, instead of choosing items myself.

Today (Friday) our order arrived. First up, it came in a refrigerated van, which will be great for keeping things fresh in summer. I was happy to see it was in two separate boxes, so I could see what each type of box contained. When I opened the boxes I was quite impressed to see a green biodegradable bin liner in each box. Since the boxes are collected and reused each week, it’s nice to have a liner  - and we’ll be able to reuse the liners in our rubbish bin. 

Here’s the contents of the boxes (the white bags are biodegradable and compostable).

27 July Smoothie

Green Smoothie Box (starting on the left at the back): celery, juicing apples, kale, juicing carrots, zucchini, parsley, rocket, baby spinach, grapefruit, oranges, ginger, lemon and beetroot


27  July OMG

OMG! Quick Box (starting on the left at the back): celery, leek,  apples, salad mix, bananas, oranges, snow peas, red potatoes, broccoli, pears, grapefruit, lemons, sugar snap peas, carrots, zucchini and mandarins

So yes, that’s two bunches of celery, plus the half-bunch we already had in the fridge.  Celery ideas, anyone?


Well, I’m still Not Quite Right. I overdid things a bit on Tuesday (did a bit of measuring in the laundry, and picked up a few things from low shelves at the supermarket), and ever since then I’ve been getting a bit of tingling in my legs if I move the wrong way (not good). So I’ve been back on the couch being very quiet the last few days.  Since I’ve been doing so little activity, my appetite has been very small (I’ve been having a  protein smoothie for breakfast, a juice or green smoothie for lunch, and some sort of protein, veg and carbs for dinner).

Today I had to go the post office to buy some more express post envelopes  to send my work back. The queue stretched out the door and by the time I got near the counter I was feeling quite hot and had stripped off my beanie, scarf, jacket and sweatshirt, so that I was standing there in pants and a T-shirt (very unusual for me). As the person in front of me was being served I started to feel nauseous. When it was my turn I started by saying, ‘Excuse me, I don’t feel well…’ I managed to squeak out what I wanted, but as she was getting the envelopes for me, I had to lie down on the floor, before I fainted. In front of a full post office.

One of the post office ladies was very kind and took me out the back so I could lie down out there. I don’t know if it was the activity of walking to the post office and standing in the queue for a long time, after pretty much lying down for three days, or hardly having anything to eat all day, or being hot, or a combination, but I just felt horrible. When I thought I was OK again I got up and went back out the front of the post office so I could complete my purchase and send my work off. But as I was filling out the envelope I started to feel hot, nauseous and faint  and had to lie down again.

The ladies in the post office were quite concerned by this stage and were asking if they should call someone (ie an ambulance).  I mentioned my doctor was in the shopping centre, so once I had recovered I was walked over there.

My GP is lovely and I felt sorry for him when I started blubbing as soon as he asked me what was wrong.  He asked lots of questions (no, I am not pregnant) and took my blood pressure (100/65) before deciding to order blood tests and x-rays, so I will be having those done in the morning.

I felt a lot better in the doctor’s office and when I got home, so I think the heat of the post office was a contributing factor, but it will still be good to get the tests done.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

We’re in the process of trying to make up our mind between two companies to do our renovations (removing walls in our kitchen-laundry and kitchen-dining areas and putting in a European-style laundry and island bench). Their quotes are almost the same, and they have both been pretty prompt in returning emails etc.

One is is a bathroom and kitchen company that can also do removal of walls (the owner is a kitchen designer and registered builder). They have some really nice pics on their website and I think their quality of work would be high (they have won several industry awards), but I am feeling a bit intimidated in dealing with them because they are used to working on big, expensive jobs and they will be working around our secondhand kitchen, installed by me (’cause we couldn’t afford the structural work and a new kitchen).  Their quote was based on the architectural and engineering plans I sent them (and a phone call from them to ask me some questions). The quote described all of the work to be done, with a total at the end.

The other is a building company who will bring in a joiner to do the laundry doors etc. The owner is a registered builder and a member of the Master Builders Association, and seems pretty down to earth. I sent him the plans too, and he also came around to look at what we wanted to have done in person. His quote was more ‘transparent’ in that it described all of the work to be done, with an estimate next to each trade, and a total at the end.

The kitchen company seems a bit busier – they reckon they could start in eight weeks, and the job would take four weeks to complete, whereas the builder could start in four weeks and would take two weeks to do the job.

I think Rob is leaning towards the building company, but I can’t help but get sucked in by the pretty pictures of the kitchen company.

I think writing this has helped me a bit, but if you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them!


On  another (but related) note, I don’t think the laundry doors I showed in yesterday’s post are going to work that well for us. Since they will be right next to the back door, there is the danger of this happening – door congestion!

laundry_001 via boutique stays flipped pic via Boutique Stays

Instead we might have to go for something like this, with large bifolds that open away from the back door

Extra wide bi-fold door via pic via gthree

Lots to think about!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Laundry Inspiration

My lower back is feeling a bit better now. No pain while lying or walking, but am still very cautious bending or squatting, and can’t sit for any length of time. Am still doing my work lying on the couch.

Over the weekend we looked through the quotes from the builders and today I emailed them some further questions.

As part of our renovation the wall between the kitchen and laundry will be coming out. This is how the laundry looks now. 


Not very attractive.

We are planning tidy it up a bit and hide it away behind new doors. Here are some examples, with the same plumbing.


via Electrolux


provincial kitchens 3

via Provincial Kitchens


provincial kitchens 5

via Provincial Kitchens


Do you have a laundry set-up like this? Anything you love about it or would do differently?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I’m Mobile!

I found myself doing a few low-carb-brain things this morning (like filling up the sink with cold water instead of hot to do the dishes, and putting a pot of milk on for Rob’s coffee, but turning on the wrong element), plus I ventured off the couch for a walk, so I decided to have a few more carbs today.
1: Juice made from cos lettuce, kale, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon (sour!)
Walk with Rob and TJ (tiring!)
2. Smoothie made with soy milk, rice protein, banana, frozen cherries and cinnamon (yum!)
3. Smoothie with almond milk, rice protein, dates, coconut oil and cacao powder (not bad)
4. Roast chicken, potato, pumpkin, red onion and garlic, and steamed broccoli  and carrots, glass sauvignon blanc (delicious)
5. Ultimate chocolate mousse

Friday, July 20, 2012

Co Yo

When we were on holiday in Queensland a few weeks ago, we were in a health-food store looking for gluten-free bread that didn’t have any dairy products in it. We got chatting to someone else in the store who was also on holiday, and she was looking for Co Yo (dairy-free coconut-milk yoghurt). She said it was really nice, so when I saw it while doing our fruit and veg shopping online the other day, I decided to grab a tub to try. It got delivered yesterday morning, but I put it in the fridge and forgot all about it until late last night, when Rob and I were getting a bit peckish.

Please excuse the blurry pics. I had to take them from my perch on the couch, in the semi-darkness, while Rob was salivating.

coyo1 The ingredients are  organic coconut milk, starch (tapioca, pectin 440), Xylitol, mango (min 10%), probiotic cultures.


coyo2 Creamy texture, kind of like meringue before it is baked.


coyo3 Mango on bottom


We both really enjoyed it.  It definitely had a coconut-milk flavour, but was much thicker and creamier (not as thick as  coconut cream though; more of a whipped texture). I’d happily buy it more often, apart from the cost: $9.95 for a 400g tub!

The company also does a coconut ice cream, which sounds delicious, but I’m not sure how well it would survive a delivery from the other side of town :-(


Today’s eats

1. Smoothie with sunflower seed milk, rice protein, kale, banana, apple and cinnamon

2. Juice made from kale, mandarins (off our tree) and ginger. Goji berries.

3. Smoothie  made with water, rice protein, banana, frozen cherries, hemps seeds and cacao powder.

4. Juice made from carrot, beetroot, apple and lemon.

5. Magic Sausage Supper (recipe here)

Thursday, July 19, 2012


We get through a lot of bananas in our house. I usually have at least one a day, and Rob usually has at least two. So I order lots. And they usually come in lots of little bunches. But not today...

This bunch has about 20 bananas on it!

My lack of appetite/liquid diet seems to be having some sort of effect. This morning Rob asked me if I'd lost some weight, as my pants looked looser. I have no idea, as it's a struggle to get clothes off and on at the moment, but my stomach seems to be flatter.

Today's eats
1. Smoothie with rice milk, yerba mate tea, rice protein, banana, cloves and spirulina
2. Green smoothie made with cos lettuce, cucumber, avocado, apple and a couple of prunes
3. Last of the chicken and corn soup, apple
4. Dinner-plate-sized salad with coriander dressing, T-bone steak, glass red wine

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Still Horizontal

I'm still finding sitting rather uncomfortable so I'm still lying on the couch for most of the day. It's amazing how much my appetite decreases when I'm doing. absolutely. nothing. For example, I had a smoothie about 9am and didn't get hungry again until about 2pm. That's a looong time between meals for me.

1. Smoothie with hemp milk, rice protein, raspberries, banana and cinnamon; anti-inflamatory
2. Juice made with kale, oranges and ginger, topped up with a splash of black grape juice; almonds
3. Leftover salmon curry
4. Chickpea and pumpkin curry

On another note, we have got the quotes back from the builders for our structural work. They are all pretty similar, but still more than we want to spend! We have some thinking to do.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Short Walk

I managed a short, slow walk to the post box and bank this afternoon but spent most of the rest of the day lying on the couch again.
The liquid meal theme has continued...
1: smoothie with almond milk, rice protein, banana, flax meal, cacao, cinnamon, chorella and dulse, plus an orange and an anti-inflammatory
2: juice made from kale, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, apple, beetroot and celery, plus some almonds
3: chicken and corn soup
Dinner will probably be a salmon curry, with some bok choy. I'll try and sit at the table to eat. Rob puts a couple of big cushions on the chair, so my hips are higher than my knees. It makes me feel like the 'Princess and the Pea'.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lying on the Couch

I've mostly been on the couch since hurting my back on Friday. On Saturday I lay on the couch with my laptop and did an online shopping order with Coles, and had it delivered on Sunday for Rob to unpack. Over the weekennd I also caught up on all the season 2 episodes of Downtown Abbey. Today I had to do some work - juggling a laptop and a bunch of paperwork while lying down made things a bit slow going! I had a deadline today but it's been extended until tomorrow, thank goodness! 
Rob was great at looking after me over the weekend but today I've fended for myself. I've been favouring liquids for meals - easy for me to prepare and eat (I'm not comfortable sitting down to eat, so I either stand or lie down and drink out of a bendy straw). Here's what I've had so far...
1: smoothie with soy milk, rice protein, banana, powdered green tea, cardamom powder, chorella and dulse, plus an anti-inflammatory
2: juice made from red cabbage, carrot, green apple and celery (nicer than it sounds!)
3: chicken and corn soup (a freebie we got in the Coles delivery)
The anti-inflamatories seem to be helping, but I think there's going to be a few more days of lying down yet.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bad Back

Hurt my lower back today, unloading the dishwasher. Once I can move freely again I will
 be focusing on core and glute strength. I DON'T want  this happening again.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Hunt is On

Our renovation plans are slowly progressing. We've had plans drawn up by an architectural draftsman, and calculations and drawings done by a structural engineer. These have been looked at by a building surveyor, and a permit is ready to be issued, once we supply him with the builder's details. So we're currently looking for a builder to use...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some Recent Eats

Cabbage Salad

cabbage salad


Raspberry and Spinach Salad

raspberry and spinach salad


Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

chicken and wild rice soup


Kale and Ginger Salad

kale and ginger salad


Turnip Fries

turnip fries


Dhal with Spinach

dhal with spinach


Sausage Chowder with Kale

sausage chowder with kale


Beet Salad with Hummus

beet salad with hummus

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Finding My Way to My Happy Place, part two

Watching Minding Your Mitochondria was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for me. In it Dr Wahls states that because of the way people in the developed world eat, we are in fact starving ourselves. We are alive because of complicated chemical reactions. If we are not providing the building blocks (vitamins, minerals, essential fats), those reactions cannot happen properly, leading to the wrong structures being made or structures simply not being made at all. It sets the stage for chronic disease…

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Dr Wahls set out to discover a way of eating for optimal health and vitality. She reversed some of her symptoms, by becoming what she calls a ‘modern day hunter gatherer’. She suggests that each day we eat:

3 cups of green leaves

(3 cups is a dinner plate heaped high)

Green leaves are rich in vitamins B, A, C, K and minerals.

The B vitamins will protect your brain cells and your mitochondria (the mitochondria in each of our cells manage the energy supply for that cell).

Vitamins A and C support your immune cells.

Vitamin K keeps your blood vessels and bones healthy.

Minerals are co-factors for hundreds of different enzymes in your body.

Having a plate full of daily greens will dramatically reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

--> Have more kale (it has the most nutrition per calorie of any plant), more parsley, cooked greens and smoothies with greens.

3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables

Your brain and mitochondria need sulfur.

Your liver and kidney need sulfur so they can remove toxins from your bloodstream

--> The cabbage family is rich in sulfur. Includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, swedes, radishes and kale.

--> The onion family is also rich in sulfur. Includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots.

--> mushrooms and asparagus also contain sulfur.

3 cups of bright colour (preferably 3 different colours)

Colour are flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants that will support your retina, your mitochondria, your brain cells and the removal of toxins.

--> You can get your colours from vegetables like beets, carrots, peppers, red cabbage, or you can get them from berries and brightly coloured fruit like peaches and oranges.

High-quality protein that’s rich in omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids insulate the wiring in your brain; it also helps in the development of straight teeth and a larger brain.

--> Have wild fish (particularly salmon and herring) and grass-fed meat

In addition, include

organ meat once a week

Organ meats are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and coenzyme Q. They are particularly potent at supporting your mitochondria.

--> Try organ meats like liver, heart, tongue, gizzards or sweetbreads

seaweed at least once a week

Seaweed is a rich source of iodine and selenium.

Your brain needs iodine to make myelin, the insulation for the wiring. It also needs iodine to remove toxins, particularly mercury, lead and heavy metals. Adequate iodine lowers your risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Dr Wahls states that if you commit to having these nine cups (three platefuls) of vegetables and berries every day before you have grain, potatoes or dairy, you will have dramatically increased the vitamin and mineral content of your diet, plus you will have dramatically lowered the risk of food allergies.


I listened to the talk several times, and made notes. Then decided to give it to try. What did I have to lose?

More next time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Post Comp Diets - Finding My Way to My Happy Place

I did two figure competitions in 2006, one in 2007 and two in 2008. Each year I worked with a different trainer, and each used a different way to get results (in terms of nutrition, they were 'meal plans', carb cycling, and calorie counting).

Keith Klein, founder of the Institute of Eating Management, said 'Even if your intentions are to stay lean after a contest, when you start eating more normally, your brain is going to turn up your appetite. The body doesn’t know the difference between true starvation and the purposeful withholding of food.' (More here.) That was certainly the case for me, and even though I had exit strategies in place, I always found myself back where I started before my comp preps, wondering how I'd managed to do it to myself again.

The cumulative effect was that I found it hard to relax around food. I'd alternate between being strict about what I ate (and grouchy - poor Rob) and eating whatever I wanted (then being depressed about putting on weight - poor Rob).

In the years that followed my last comp, I spent a lot of time on the internet 'researching', and bought lots of books and e-books in an effort to find the 'best diet' to help me lose weight and keep it off. I can't say it was an entirely miserable time. I tried lots of new recipes and found some really yummy ones, and I enjoyed sharing my 'food adventures' through my blog. But I still didn't get the results I was after. It probably didn't help that I wasn't willing to calorie count, and I was reluctant to cut out a lot of fruit (as low-carb fans often do).

Earlier this year I read Sara's post L.O.V.E, about how she eats. In it, she linked to Terry Wahl's video Minding Your Mitochondria, saying it was well worth a watch. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and that was the start of my journey to where I am now. I'll discuss more in my next post. For now, I've embedded the video below.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

One Year Comparison Pics

I very rarely do ‘progress pics’ these days – the only time I seem to get in a bikini is when we are on holiday. The first pic is from May 2011, when we were in Noosa (not sure what my weight was, but I’d guess mid-60s). The second one is from June 2012, Palm Cove (high 50s).
May 14

24 June front
I finally seem to have found my ‘happy place’ as far as food is concerned. I’ll try and share more in the coming week.