• cooking,  essentials,  ethical shopping,  food,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW – Munch Reuseable Produce Bags

    Now team you all know we  have been making small changes as a family in our plastic bag use.

    It’s not been hard but it definitely makes you reassess your plastic.

    For us by getting our online groceries packed in boxes our plastic bag use has decreased to almost zero!

    BUT we were still getting some of our fruit and veges packed in plastic fruit and vege bags.

    So it got me thinking …. What can we do to stop this?

    Here is where Munch Reusable Produce Bags come in.

    pic – www.munchcupboard.com

    Munch have packs of produce bags which firstly are very deceptive.  These stretchy, colourful and New Zealand made bags can hold up to 2kg of produce (perfect for the potatoes).  The airflow can circulate around your fruit and veges because of the perforated fabric. Perfect for stopping the potatoes and onions sweating and getting stinky!!

    Each bag comes with a bungee like drawstring which once pulled keeps your bits in and not rolling around the bottom of your trolley or fridge.

     

    In the Munch pack you get a set of 3 bags (2 small and 1 large).

    The large is perfect for the large veges like potatoes, kumara or onions.

    The smaller bags were perfect for literally EVERYTHING else!!

    This set retails for $19.99.

    They are easy to use at the self service checkouts too and don’t cause the virtual shop assistant to have a moment with your oranges!!

    Munch Reusable Produce Bags will be well used in this whare and I am so happy that I can keep reducing our plastic use as a whanau.

    By having 2 sets of these we can drop our produce bags and shopping bags off at our local supermarket and when the online shopping is done we can have our shopping packed almost plastic free!!

  • cooking,  essentials,  food,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  Uncategorized

    Create with Crockpot Express Crock Multicooker

    Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker

    Let’s face it we are all time poor.

    If we want to maximise our time away from the kitchen I am all for that.  We just need to think smart. But let’s not be martyrs we need a little help.

    We are all about maximum family time.

    A time for being together.

    For our whanau sitting down at the end of each day and having dinner is probably the only time during our hectic schedule where we all stop and see how everyone is doing.

    By having less time in the kitchen and more time together as a family we are winning right?

    Here is where Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker comes to the party.

    The new Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker is a one stop shop.

     

    Don’t have 8 hours to cook that stew?

    Use the pressure cooker function.

    Done in 1 hour.

    At work for the day but need dinner done when you get home?

    Use the slow cooker function.

    Need to brown off your meat before slow cooking?

    Use the brown/saute function.

    What’s even better is you do it all in the one pan.

    We all hate extra pots and pans to wash.

    There is literally nothing this bad boy can’t do.

     

    We… I say we it’s actually Miss Teddie who is into naming all household equipment and furniture has christened our Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker ….. Carl.

    Carl can do many things other standard crock pots can’t do.

    He can steam (perfect for steamed puds), he can keep things warm (for when kids are home at different times), he is a rice cooker AND he is a yoghurt maker!!

    Crockpot gave me the challenge to come up with a great winter warmer recipe using their new Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker or as we call him Carl.

    Mexican Beef with Creamy Polenta.

    Serves 4 (or 3 adults and 2 small people)

    1kg beef (chuck or stewing steak)

    4 tablespoons Pepper & Me Mexellent paste (or any other mexican recipe base paste)

    2 onions

    2 tsp crushed garlic

    2 cans chopped tomatoes

    1 can water

    Salt and Pepper to taste.

    1 cup of polenta (quick cook)

    3 cups cold water

    40gm butter

    ½ cup heavy cream

    ½ cup parmesan grated.

    Cut beef into 2 cm cubes and season with salt and pepper.  Using the BROWN/SAUTE feature brown the meat in batches. Once all the meat is browned add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the Mexellent (or what you are using) paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

    Add tomatoes and water.

    If you are wanting to add other vegetables you can add them here.

    Switch to the SLOW COOK function and slow cook for 6-8 hours OR

    Switch to the PRESSURE COOK function and cook for 1.5 hours.

    Bring the water to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Use a wire balloon whisk to stir the water. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the water (whisking ensures the polenta is dispersed through the liquid as quickly as possible). Don’t add the polenta too quickly or it will turn lumpy.

    Reduce heat to low. BE CAREFUL IT CAN SPIT AT YOU AND BURN!!  Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the polenta is soft.

    Add cream, butter and parmesan mix with a wooden spoon until melted and season to taste.

  • cooking,  essentials,  food,  health,  kids,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  parenting,  Uncategorized

    Apple Crumble Cookies

    IMG20180521105552-01

    Over the past few years, it has definitely become more apparent that the amount of sugar we consume is greater than what we put into our teas and coffees. Sauces, bread, baking and many other things have secret sugar hidden within the ingredients.
    Being aware and reducing the amount of sugar in our diets can keep us and our whanau healthy.
    WHOLE EARTH Sweetener Co. uses stevia a natural leaf found in South America used for hundreds of years to sweeten herbal tea.
    Their Baking Blend uses a mix of stevia and raw cane sugar to allow the look and baking ability of sugar but with 50% fewer calories than regular sugar.
    WHOLE EARTH Sweetener Co. gave me the challenge of finding a recipe and using their products.
    These Apple Crumble Cookies are easy to make and perfect lunchbox additions for little people and in our case, not so little people.
    I double the recipe for our baking loving family of 5, otherwise they would last 2 days if I’m lucky!
    You could also substitute the dried apple with any dried fruit e.g. apricot, figs or dates.

    IMG20180521105539-01
    Apple Crumble Cookies

    Makes 18.
    100g dried apple
    200g plain flour
    1.5tsp baking powder
    100g butter (cold)
    100g WHOLE EARTH Sweetener Co. Baking Blend
    1 large free-range egg
    Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius
    Line 2 trays with baking paper.
    In a food processor put apple and blitz until finely chopped.
    Add flour, butter, Whole Earth Baking Blend and a pinch of salt.
    Blitz till fine breadcrumbs.
    Remove 3-4 tbsp of mix and set aside.
    Add egg and combine.
    Divide into large teaspoon sized balls, roll and flatten lightly.
    Sprinkle over reserved mix.
    Bake for 8-10 mins until lightly golden.
    Cool on tray for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack.

    IMG20180521105552-01

    Happy baking!!

  • beauty,  essentials,  ethical shopping,  health,  kids,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  parenting,  Uncategorized

    Lady Lifesavers – May

    Hey team.

    I’ve got a few more of my Lady Lifesavers for May.

    The may not specifically be for the ladies but they may make your life 100% better!

    Wicked Sensation Children’s Magnesium Cream

    This little pot of magic soothes muscles, frightens monsters away and makes children SLEEP! I have been using this on the kids feet to protect them against “monsters” BUT really I have been helping them sleep! Granted I have pretty great sleepers but it takes them along time to get to sleep. The lavender and magnesium helps to soothe them into a blissful sleep. For us it’s been that winding down post dinner ritual. Bath, teeth and a foot massage for the small ones. They love it! I have also been using it on tight shoulders and for my tension headaches. MAGIC!! Made in NZ and full of natural goodies.

    magnesium-cream-kids-510x510
    Available at Eko Hub or Oh Natural

    So Simple Retinol + Lycopene Face Serum

    So Simple Skincare work on the waterless skincare approach. Basically this means by no water in the product there is more active product. Also by having more active ingredients you need less product!!

    By using this under my night cream EVERY night I have seen a reduction in the large pores around my nose which in turn means less blockage and congestion e.g. blackheads.

    This serum is quickly absorbed and the active ingredients of the retinol and lycopene help kick the butts of fine lines (very important in your 30s) and evens out skin tone.

    IMG_6756_1024x1024@2x
    Retinol +Lycopene Face Serum with Vitamin E

    Frankie Apothecary Breathe Roll On + Kawakawa Body Oil

    I cannot rave enough about Michelle and Frankie Apothecary. We only used the Frankie Sunscreen SPF50 this summer and the whole family loved it. Frankie Apothecary have launched two new products this winter. Breathe Roll On takes Kanuka for decongestion, Kawakawa and Eucalyptus oils as well as Marjoram and Lemon oil for headache relief. This has been a godsend with winter approaching and the snots and sniffles that have been bouncing around. With the snozzles snot free we can focus on keeping the moisture in our skin this winter. I don’t know about you but I get such dry skin during the winter. Cue the Kawakawa Body oil. Soaks in quickly so it’s not an oil slick in your pj’s, I love the fact it’s fragrance free as I get a bit funny with overly botanical fragrance in products. It can also been used as a massage oil for mum and baby or as a bath oil.

    This year is flying by. Before we know it will be dare I say it Christmas!

    Take Care

    J x

  • cooking,  food,  kids,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  Uncategorized

    Tray Bake Pasta

    This recipe has evolved from a stand at the stove gig to a throw it all in a pan gig.

    I am all for making good food as easy as possible. I know the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is spend hours at the stove. Bonus ….. even a husband could make this one!!


    TRAY BAKE PASTA

    4-6 good quality sausages of your choice (head to your butcher for the best ones!)

    1.5kg tomatoes OR 1 jar of pasata sauce if you need to sell a kidney for said tomatoes

    1 onion (sliced)

    2 springs rosemary

    1 handful of thyme

    1 pinch of dried chilli flakes (omit or pump it up depending on taste)

    salt & pepper

    2-3 glugs of good olive oil (I use garlic infused for extra flavour)

    Pasta any shape/type but remember shapes are a great carrier for sauces (depending on how many you are feeding. I used 1x 500gm packet to feed my family of 5 with left overs).

    Parmesan

    Fresh basil leaves

    METHOD

    Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

    Add tomatoes, onions, herbs, chilli, salt & pepper to a large baking dish.

    Take each sausage and pull the insides into small meatballs. Each sausage makes 5-6 meatballs.

    Give it a big glug of olive oil cover with foil and bake for 20-25 mins.

    Uncover and smoosh the tomatoes with a fork (if you have used pasata sauce skip this step).

    Bake for another 10-15 until brown.

    While this is happening cook your pasta in boiling salted water until done. Drain and keep 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

    Add the pasta to the baking tray, add the cooking water and with a wooden spoon chuff up the baked on goodness to make the sauce.

    Serve with fresh basil and grated parmesan.

    Enjoy!!

    J xx

  • Dot Dash Family
    education,  essentials,  kids,  learning,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  parenting,  Uncategorized

    Winners and Losers

    In life and adulthood there are winners and losers. Now I’m not talking about winning a race or a game of monopoly. Life is full of outcomes good and bad.

    That job you really want. Sometimes you are successful and sometimes you are not. The hot guy that you have been seeing turns out to be a bit of a douchebag, you learn and move on. As Grandma would say plenty more fish in the sea!

    A paper you have slaved over for weeks sometimes you pass and sometimes you have read the brief completely wrong and your lecturer wants you to re-write. Sitting your driving test and speeding and you get back to the depot only to be told “I am sorry I cannot pass you”. Life it FULL of ups and downs.

    Why am I writing this?

    Tonight I saw Maria from Happy Mum Happy Child shared a moment from her life on Facebook and it got me thinking …. We as parents try not to let our children fail or be disappointed but are we doing them a disservice in doing so?

    Our choices and actions teach us boundaries. Even when they are small, children push those boundaries to learn how far they can go. It’s nature. Failure and disappointment is a natural part of life and in allowing our children not to experience this natural yet shitty part of life are we not teaching them a valuable life lesson.

    Imagine getting to 18 and never experiencing disappointment or failure? You would not have the coping mechanisms and strategies on board to realise THIS IS NORMAL. You would not know what was happening and you would feel like your world was ending.

    Now I am no expert but looking from the outside in I am seeing a generation of kids who have never experienced disappointment or failure. Never lost a game, race or been told no. There are always “winners” and “losers” in this world. Maybe the words are not the nicest but they are reality.

    Are we setting our kids up to “fail” by not teaching them the crucial life lesson?

    It saddens me when I hear of schools not allowing “winners” in a race, because the other children will feel disappointment. Does this also not allow the winning child to feel a sense of pride and achievement? It also allows us to be apart of society that cuts achievers down with extreme hatred ….. Tall Poppy Syndrome anyone?

    Here in NZ our teen suicide rate is high, too high.

    As a mother with a child heading into this turbulent time I hope that I have given him the foundations of life lessons to get him through. I hope I have instilled in him that there is more to life than what can seem like the end of the world.

    I would love to hear others thoughts.

    Like I said this is only my opinion. I am not a parenting expert or child psychologist. Just a mum speaking as I find.

  • beauty,  essentials,  ethical shopping,  health,  lifestyle,  motherhood

    A pain in the GINA

    Now we are going to get into the nitty gritty.

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

    If you don’t want to hear a woman talk about periods keep on scrolling.

    As women we know what happens once a month.  When you are younger you want your little friend to visit you that 1st time because you want to feel grown up. It is a novelty. Your transition into womanhood.  Then reality hits and you realise that it doesn’t make you feel grown up, it feels like your vagine is going to fall out and someone is scraping your insides out with a blunt spoon. Well that is how I felt.

    For 15-16 years I have dreaded each month. Those days where I want to crawl back to bed because I feel so awful.  The days where I debated shoving a nappy between my legs to stem the flow.  The days where I have debated inventing a vagina shelf that holds it up in a sling . The days where I’d be pain killered up to the eyeballs and still crying because it hurt so much. The months where I would go through a box of supers in a day.  The mornings I would ROLL out of bed with a towel between my legs and my husband yelling in the background “it’s OK, I will change the sheets”.

    I think my lowest point was standing in a room FULL of men at work with it gushing down my legs and I didn’t know what to do but thank the baby Jesus for my work friend who rescued me and saved me from a VERY awkward situation/conversation.

    I accepted this as “normal”. I was just unlucky.

    I was the unfortunate one who just had terrible periods and I looked at those bitches using slim minis, who would say “oh I barely even realise I have it” with pure jealousy.

    Heading into my 31st year, I had a life changing epiphany. Now in all honesty I wouldn’t have gone and bought organic tampons. So when BON sent me some to try I really didn’t have any expectations because a tampon, is a tampon right?

    WRONG!

    Oh my god how I was so wrong.

    For the 1st time in 15 years I had a painfree period.

    Coincidence says I, because how can a tampon make a difference?

    Because it bloody does!!

    4 months on I’m still pain free and it’s gone from the texas chainsaw massacre to really a period that really doesn’t affect my day to day life AND I used a mini ……… without having to run to the ladies 5 mins later!!

    So I guess why I am oversharing is the fact that what I experienced for 15 years wasn’t normal. I mean yes this could be all coincidental and it might not even be related to the change in tammys BUT it’s the only thing I have changed and the impact on my life has been so drastic.  So life changing that I wanted to share my story and if I can help one person to have a pain free, non monthly gush fest I will.

    So what’s my theory on this whole organic tampon shenanigians?

    It could be the fact that the bleaches, dyes and chemicals used in regular tampons could trigger an immune/pain response and that is what I was experiencing.


    Who knows, I am in no way a tampon/body/period expert!!

    Something as simple as switching up your regular tampons to organic can possibly make a difference. It did for me.

    If it makes a difference then why the hell not!

    P.S – this is not a sponsored post. It’s just me talking about something that has actually changed my life.

  • cooking,  food,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  parenting

    Sweetcorn and Kale Fritters

    For a twist on the traditional sweetcorn fritter.

    3/4 cup of plain flour

    1 egg (free range if possible)

    440g can creamed sweetcorn

     can whole corn kernels

    2 tablespoons chia seeds

    4 -6 kale leaves (chopped)

    1 pinch chilli flakes (more if you like it hot)

    salt and pepper to taste

    oil 

    METHOD

    • Place flour, salt and pepper in a bowl.
    • Add the egg.
    • Add both tins of corn and chilli.
    • Mix till WELL combined.
    • Add chia seeds.
    • Add kale.
    • Oil large flat plan and cooking over a medium heat til golden.
    • Serve with salad and sauce of your choice.

      I served my fritters with Lisa’s Carrot and Cumin dip and dry toasted sunflower seeds.

    • cooking,  food,  lifestyle,  motherhood,  Uncategorized

      NEW YEAR. NEW ………

      To me the new year does not mean a new me or a new diet or even a new life path.  To me the new year is all about how I can make this year 2017, even better than the last.

      15723410_1274442402617687_3926562001289754067_o

      I love to eat but I also love to cook. Food for our family brings us together. Be it a family dinner or watching an episode of Australian Masterchef. I am not quite sure where my love of food came from. Mum is a baker but not a cook. At family dinners I make the dinner, she makes the pud.  I remember recording (on VHS I may add – showing me age!) the very 1st cooking show Jamie Oliver ever did “The Naked Chef”. I would watch it over and over again. Maybe it all started there? Who knows. Still love Jamie though!

      img_20170108_113813_055

      2017 is about trying new things, cuisines and techniques.

      Each week I will be trying a new recipe from my ever growing cookbook collection. Because lets face it. We all have those cookbooks we brought but have never actually used.

      WEEK ONE:

      I embarked on week one with my new friend Donna. Donna Hay that is.  Her latest cookbook “Basic to Brilliance” is probably the best cookbook I have read in a VERY long time. Core recipes like roast chicken, pork belly or beef shoulder are then transformed into 2 or 3  additional recipes.

      img_20170110_191810_115

      We started with her basic recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi then I pimped it up with my chorizo and cherry tomato sauce.

      Chorizo and Cherry Tomato Sauce

      4 small chorizo

      1 punnet cherry tomatoes

      spinach (as much as you like)

      Splosh of red wine vinegar

      Salt & Pepper

      Chop your chorizo and place in a pan with a dash of oil. Fry until the oil has a beautiful orange/golden hue. Add your tomatoes, spinach, salt and pepper. Add a splosh of the red wine vinegar to taste. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed.  Toss your gnocchi when the spinach has wilted. You can either crisp up the gnocchi or keep them soft and pillowy. Top with extra parmesan.

      16143823_1295589920502935_1411683262843304451_o

      My tip for ricotta gnocchi – FLOUR, FLOUR and FLOUR some more. This gnocchi is sticky and sticks to everything. Dust your board, plate, knife and anything that it will touch otherwise it will be a sticky disaster!

      img_20170123_192702_466
      Thanks IG husband for this shot!!

      So keep following our food adventures on Instagram and Facebook and enjoy our food journey for 2017.

       

    • cooking,  food,  kids,  lifestyle,  motherhood

      CHOC CHIP COOKIES

      Believe me when I say I am no baker. When I cook I tend to wing it so restricting myself to exact quantities and measurements just doesn’t fit my nature.

      When I bake it has to be easy with minimal fannying around.

      These chocolate chip cookies are easy, quick and you can double the recipe with out fuss for those school trips and shared lunches.

      15137433_1230652363663358_1600758937508227647_o

      INGREDIENTS:

      125 grams of butter

      1/2 cup brown sugar

      1/2 cup white sugar

      1 egg – free range if you can get it (let’s be kind to those chickens)

      1 and 3/4 cups of flour

      1 teaspoon vanilla essence (we use the Equagold vanilla paste)

      1 and a half cups of chocolate buttons (milk, dark, white or a mix)

      METHOD:

      Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

      Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

      Mix in the egg and vanilla.

      Mix in the flour.

      Mix in the chocolate buttons.

      Roll into teaspoon size balls.

      Bake at 180 degrees until lightly browned (15 mins). Cook for a shorter time if you like a chewy cookies or longer if you like a crisp cookie.