When my family and I first moved to Port Stephens from the big smoke of Sydney, I spent years trying to fulfil my Asian food cravings by travelling down to Sydney every weekend or fortnight, restocking my pantry, fridge and freezer with items that I just couldn’t get here. I found that the local supermarket lacked the freshness and variety that I was so used to from my favourite Asian grocery stores in Sydney. (more…)
Medowie Macadamias is a family owned and operated business situated in Port Stephens, in the lovely country-like town of Medowie. It was first established in 1980, growing five different varieties of nut producing trees. (more…)
Mem says: “This delicious recipe is great for fighting winter cold and flu’s and contains loads of vitamin c!” (more…)
Formerly known as the Women’s Information and Counselling Service Port Stephens Inc., The Yacaaba Centre has been operating for over 20 years. With a change of co-ordinator in 2006, and an application for funding for Relationship Counselling for Couples and Men we decided it was time for a change to encourage all members of the community to use and feel welcome at the service. (more…)
Most of us at some time in our lives are told by our GP that we “…need to exercise because…”
Most of us cringe when we hear this. We do not like to exercise, we do not like to get sweaty, we do not like to feel the muscles ache either during or after the session, we do not like to try to motivate ourselves to get out and do it. And, we can find so many other reasons why we do not like it. (more…)
Sound familiar? Yes, we all do it, think that we will skip a few meals to lose weight surely that has to work, makes sense, at the end of the day there must be more calories spent then consumed. But this is not working for you is it? (more…)
Plus a recipe for Crunchy French Toast
I have a confession…. When it has come to encouraging my 4 year old ‘fussy eater’ daughter to try new foods these past few weeks, the only thing I’ve been consistent about at dinner time is being inconsistent! (more…)
With my eldest son back at school next week and my little ‘fussy eater’ daughter at preschool, I thought this would be a great time to try a new recipe for a healthy lunch box filler!
I like the idea of ‘hiding’ vegetables where the kids would least expect them, and especially those which they wouldn’t normally eat, so when I found this recipe for zucchini bread, it seemed perfect. As well as a ‘secret’ vegetable, it also contains a couple of other ingredients which my daughter would not usually eat – nuts and eggs. [If your school or preschool has a nut ban, then you can easily leave the nuts out]
A word of encouragement: Don’t be put off by all the ingredients in the list below – most of them are items which once you’ve purchased, become pantry staples which you can use for a whole range of other recipes.
3 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil (I used macadamia nut oil)
2 1/4 cups white sugar (I thought this was a bit too much sugar, so I just used 1 1/2 cups instead)
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to around 150 degrees C
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together in a bowl
- Beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl for about 5 minutes (until light in colour). Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini and the nuts until well combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
- Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan.
I encouraged my daughter to help me make this bread, which she enjoyed, until we got to the part where the nuts and zucchini are added. She declared ‘I’ve finished now’ and off she went to leave the final stages to me.
I wasn’t quite sure how my daughter would react to the ‘cake with vegetables and nuts’ but once this bread is cooked, you cant see the zucchini and because I chopped the nuts up really small, you cant really see those either. When I gave my daughter a piece, she looked at it suspiciously and gave it the usual once over, then ate about half and said that she liked it – so a good result! The rest of the family enjoyed the bread too and it does taste really nice when it’s still a little warm. The recipe makes two ‘loafs’ and they can be frozen and kept in the freezer for two weeks.
This week I was inspired after talking to Sheryl Downey, a Medical Herbalist & Iridologist. Sheryl specialises in Nutrition, Iridology assessment and physical and emotional wellness. During our conversation, she mentioned that she makes faces out of food for her children! I thought this would be a fantastic way to inspire a bit of creativity and interest in food in my daughter.
Here are the results:
As you can see there are lots of variations to the lunch and dinner faces. Ingredients, from left to right:
- Lunch face: circular wrap, cucumber, spinach, carrot & baby picked cucumber
- Dinner face: Pasta, baby pickled cucumber, cucumber, carrot, wholemeal bread & omelette with carrot, potatoe & onion
- Dessert or snack face (I saw this one in one of the newspaper magazines): rice cake, peanut butter, strawberry, banana, grape, blueberry
- Lunch face: circular wrap, carrot, cucumber, baby pickled cucumber, celery, strawberry
- Lunch face: circular wrap, cold pasta, carrot, cucumber, baby pickled cucumber, zucchini
Verdict: Making these faces was very popular with my daughter! Since we started making them late last week, she has requested them every day for lunch and dinner and we have come up with a whole array of ideas: one day even making a mini garden out of carrots, peas and beans – we made a little fence out of the carrots and then used green beans for tree trunks and peas for the leaves. During our artistry, I got my daughter to try three new foods which she has never entertained before: spinach (a whole leaf!), wraps (the whole wrap!) and zucchini (a tinsy bite – she wasn’t keen on that one!). She also tried the omelette, which she used to eat as a baby but which has been labelled an “I don’t like that” food since she was about two. Success!!
A Healthy Breakfast for the Family: Banana Porridge with Almond Milk
I discovered a new way of making porridge this week. While I was doing my weekly shop, I noticed a product I hadn’t tried before, almond milk! As part of my healthy eating mission, I thought this would be a great substitute for cooking with cows milk. Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
1 cup of wholegrain porridge oats
just enough almond milk to cover the oats
1 handful of natural seed (I use pepitas, sunflower kernels & pine nuts)
1 teaspoon of honey
Method: place the oats and almond milk in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes, then mix in the chopped banana, seeds and honey – done!
Verdict from the family: Delicious! Both my husband and 12 year old son thought it tasted yummy and it really does make a filling and nutritious breakfast. Here’s some facts I found about almond milk:
- Heart Healthy: contains no cholesterol or saturated fats
- High in Antioxidants: a great source of vitamin E, so can help prevent cancer and slow the signs of aging
- High in Vitamins & Minerals: almond milk contains copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium
- Low in Fat & Calories: a great milk substitute as it is very low in calories and contains only ‘good fats’ – omega 3 fatty acids
Warning: Almond Milk is not safe for those with tree nut allergies and may not be safe for infants
If you would like expert advice on food and nutrition, check out Sheryl Downey’s facebook page CLICK HERE
19/01/12 – Sheryl Downey, Medical Herbalist & Iridologist Writes:
I am a big fan of artistic plates, we as adults eat with our eyes, so do kids! We just have to be more age appropriate in what they would like! Don’t feel you have to do it all yourself, i get my kids to choose what they want to make and/or what ingredients to use!
Today my girls had a ladybug toy they were playing with before breakfast, so i made them so we made ladybugs out of multigrain toast with ABC spread (almond, brazil and cashew nut butter) and then cut some grapes in half and got them to put the spots on their ladybug!! They loved it, clean plates = happy mummy!! Its not hard, and in combination with our protein fruit smoothie, it contains fruit, carbs and protein for a balanced breakfast and healthy kids!! Cheers Sheryl
Plus, for the rest of the family: Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa
This week I had a slight change of plan. Instead of attempting another recipe for my daughter, I had a brainwave about getting her to try some new fruits. I also embarked on a new mission – getting the whole family to eat a more healthy dinner.
My daughter has always been happy to eat apple, banana, strawberries and grapes, but there is such a wide variety of delicious fruits out there which I felt I should re-introduce her to, so I decided I’d get her involved in preparing a smoothie for me and dad. I wasn’t holding out much hope of her trying the actual smoothie, however, I figured that somewhere along the way, I may be able to get her to try some of the fruit we were preparing.
While I was getting the fruit out, I threw some positive subliminal messages into our conversation about the fact that her best friend loves eating all these kinds of fruits (not sure if she does but hey) and how I used to love eating this fruit when I was little. Next, I laid out a couple of pieces of fruit I know she likes on a little plate and next to those I put one blueberry, one piece of melon, one raspberry, one piece of watermelon and one piece of peach. She wasn’t uttering the words “I don’t like that” yet… so far so good! Next I suggested to her that if she tried a little of each, just a tiny teensy bite, then I would high five her (she loves getting a high five). I also explained to her that for each high five she got, she would get a sticker and once she had got 20 stickers she could get a little reward at the shops (like a magazine or colouring book). Her eyes brightened, she liked this idea! Then I panicked – I didn’t have any stickers! Some quick thinking and I came up with my own version of stickers (see pic below). I’m no artist but I drew little hands on the paper to denote each ‘sticker’ earnt and it seemed to do the trick.
I told her she could eat her favourite fruit first, pointing to the fruit she usually eats (to build her confidence) then try the rest.
After eating her usual fruit staples first, she told me she would lick the other fruit. I saw this as positive progression and rewarded her with a high five and a sticker when she licked each fruit (however, I had plans!). Because she responded really well to the high fives and stickers, I said that if she tried a teensy bite of each piece of fruit, she could have another high five and sticker. It worked! A teensy bit it was, but she took a bite of each.
The next day she actually came to me and asked me if I was going to make another smoothie, so I let her help me prepare the fruit again and attempted the same method of getting her to try each piece and got the same result – so with a bit of perseverance, I’m hoping the bites will get bigger!
Next on my agenda was a healthy meal for the family…
Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa
Preparation time: 20 mins / Cooking Time: 15 mins
For the Salsa:
4 ripe plum tomatos, chopped or 12 cherry tomatos, halved
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and diced or some chili flakes
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
For the chicken
1/2 cup non-fat plain yoghurt
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
For the salsa:
1. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion and pepper
2. Chop the avocado and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of lime juice to keep it from browning. Add the avocado and remaining lime juice to the bowl and toss to combine. (This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)
For the chicken:
1. In a small food processor, puree the yoghurt, red onion and lime juice to make a yogurt marinade.
2. Transfer the marinade to a shallow bowl or plastic bag. Add the chicken and coat well with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours (I marinaded for about 2.5 hours).
3. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard the remaining marinade and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken on both sides until cooked through.
5. Serve the chicken with tomato-avocado salsa.
This recipe was really easy to prepare and I chose to serve it with steamed beans (which I am proud to say I grew in the garden) and asparagus.
Verdict from the family:
My husband said he felt like he was dining in a fancy restaurant it tasted so good and my 12 year old son ate almost all of it too (this was after complaining while I was cooking it, that there were too many ‘weird’ ingredients.) Even though I do say so myself, it tasted REALLY good and I would highly recommend this recipe. The salsa can of course be used in other recipes and it would taste great with some corn tortillas! I put a little of the chicken on to my daughter’s plate too, and tried the high five/sticker technique here, but she looked at me like I was pushing my luck! Oh well, keep trying!
19/01/12 – Sheryl Downey, Medical Herbalist & Iridologist Writes:
Well high 5 to you Saffron!! Most kids respond SO much better to positive reinforcement (high 5, stickers, book) than to negative reactions (eg: eat your dinner or you will be going straight to bed!). Especially at this age, this technique is fantastic as she gets a reward straight away (high 5) a visual reward (sticker) and a reward down the track to remind her what she gets if she keeps it up! I use a similar method with rewards, but i get my daughter (5 years old) to choose what she wants from a magazine or draw a picture of it so that she remembers what the long term goal is!
Smoothies are a great way to get great fruit and veg into kids… here is my morning smoothie that i make for my girls and I:
3/4 cup frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries.. etc..)
1-2 cups water (depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 banana (makes it creamy)
1 tspn of LSA (linseed, sunflower seeds and almond meal)
1/2 tspn of slippery elm powder
1 tspn of spirulina (makes it green and enriches with vitamins & minerals, the girls love it green!!)
1 serve soy protein powder
Blend with a stick mixer, can also replace some water for ice cubes for a cooler, thicker drink!
Getting kids involved in their food is so important. Whether it be to have a garden so they can see it growing and know where it comes from, or getting them to help prepare food (age appropriate) or to put dinner on the table and get them to dish out their own plate of food. Getting kids involved in food, and to be aware of what they are eating, is one of the many keys to help have a healthier next generation! Keep up the good work!! Cheers Sheryl