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Just HAVE to share our Christmas Tree!

Just HAVE to share our Christmas Tree!

I am very sentimental. I love homes full of character, faces that tell a million stories and food and things that are associated with special events and occasions! Think birthday presents, lockets, roasts – the list goes on. Christmas for me is very special. I associate the day with beautiful memories of my childhood, my parents (especially my mum whom still makes the day so extremely special) and food made with lots and lots of love! My Christmas tree is no exception! I have decorations I made as a child, ones that have been given to me as gifts from my parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles over the years and new decorations created by my children or that I have purchased for them. I love my Christmas Tree – it is the epitome of love:)

My First Guest Post!

Here is the link to my guest post on Modern Alternative Mama. I am so excited to be given the opportunity to share some tips on minimizing the risk for those with life-threatening food allergies. Head over and have a read – be sure to check back in and let me know what you think!!

Almond Flour Pancakes with Cinnamon-Maple Pecans

Almond Flour Pancakes with Cinnamon-Maple Pecans

I have been wanting to try out a fantastic Maple Glazed Pecan recipe by My Whole Food Life. I added all the ingredients plus a tablespoon of cinnamon and in 2 hours we had hot, sweet pecans! Now I could have simply eaten the whole batch by the handful – but refrained and cooked some almond flour pancakes instead!

Almond Flour is a great grain-free alternative to regular flour (not something to consume daily but great substitute for the odd sweet treat or to crumb fish and meat). It also has a softer consistency than coconut flour which is great for baked goods. I saw a recipe ages ago but I can’t remember where so I just threw these ingredients in and it worked (sometimes I get lucky).

Throw the nuts on top of the pancakes serve with some maple syrup and sliced banana and you have a delicious (naughty) Monday morning breakfast!

Almond Flour Pancakes with Cinnamon-Maple Pecans (My version of recipe by My Whole Food Life )

Ingredients

Cinnamon-Maple Pecans

3 Cups Raw pecans

1/4 Cup Maple syrup

1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract)

1 Teaspoon Sea salt

1 Tablespoon Coconut oil

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Almond Flour Pancakes

1/4 Teaspoon baking soda

2 Cups Almond flour

1/3 Cup Almond Milk (Water, coconut milk, normal milk would work also)

3 Eggs

2 Tablespoons Maple syrup

Directions

Cinnamon-Maple Pecans

Umm put in the slow-cooker and cook for 1-3 hours, stirring often until your house smells amazing! Eat while hot and allow any remaining to completely cool before sealing in an air-tight glass jar.

Almond Flour Pancakes

 

1. Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and maple syrup.

2. Add flour and baking soda slowly, stirring well until smooth.

2. Add a little coconut oil to a fry pan and cook on low-med heat in batches with only 2 heaped tablespoons of mixture per pancake (they are very delicate little things and burn easily so keep your eye on them).

Makes 15-18 mini pancakes!

Next time I will be cooking up a side of bacon to add to the plate – maybe for Boxing day breakfast??

 

 

World Vegan Day

Melbourne is well-known for its shopping, designers and innovative entrepreneurs. Besides having a long overdue break, I was most excited about experiencing the food of this iconic Australian city. It is the cultural hub of our country and I was looking forward to some of that also!

We sure had a good dose of both food and culture on our first day – attending World Vegan Day at the Melbourne Show Grounds (also home to the set of television series ‘MasterChef‘ and their amazing veggie/herb garden). The event was intense, amazing, educational, confronting, sad, crazy…..it was everything crammed under one roof. It was so refreshing to have so many people passionate about our environment, sustainable food sources, and health in the one place. It really had me excited and provided me with a load of inspiration and ideas to bring back and share with everyone up here in the slightly slow (aka backwards) Central Queensland. Don’t get me wrong I am very happy to be raising my young family here and there has been a shift towards healthier living but people up here do not embrace change and the take up of anything new takes a long, looooooonnnnngggg time!

MasterChef Vegetable Garden

 

There is a lot to be said for these events and how surrounding yourself with people who support your ideals and beliefs can influence the conviction you have in your own choices. I often feel a little extreme in my avoidance of grains, dairy, preservatives, chemicals and processed foods because the majority of the people where I live have these things as the staple of their diets. I feel as though I need to justify my choices or that people think I am on some strange fad diet. I am not!  I think that anyone who follows an alternative diet must sometimes feel isolated? Or maybe that is just me? Surely not. People do look at you differently when your children have olives, sardines, cherry tomatoes, spinach, a mango and a coconut flour muffin for lunch. And think my children are ‘odd’ when they hear the latest response to the timely question of what to have for dinner, to which my 2-year-old replied “fish and water”. I loved that this minority group were all together supporting their lifestyle choices and sharing and learning from each other. Not to mention the incredible vegan businesses sharing their delicious creations.

Of the amazing array of food available at the event my absolute favourite was the Vanilla Dream coconut ice-cream I had made by Zebra Dream. It was delicious, thick, creamy and not at all icy and rock hard like other brands of coconut ice-cream I have tried. I was excited to try the Espresso flavour but it was sold out by the time I had worked my way through the crowd. Nevertheless, the Vanilla sure dissipated any disappointment I may have been feeling.

Zebra Dream "Vanilla Dream" Coconut Ice-Cream

The next best thing was being able to order a coffee on almond milk!! Nowhere and I mean nowhere in my town offers this as a dairy alternative and it was delightful to not feel ‘difficult’ when ordering something as simple as coffee.

I fell completely in love with the mason jars from The Raw Food Mum – one of my favourite bloggers! I was so excited to meet her in person and get my hands on a couple of the jars – complete with their own metal straw. They are now used daily and make everything taste that little bit more special.

Cold-Pressed Apple, Carrot and Ginger

So there is a round-up of my first day of adventures. I ventured to many fantastic cafe’s and have picked my favourites to share with you this coming week! If any of you have attended World Vegan Day celebrations what inspired you?

The BEST EVER Chocolate Muffins

Yesterday I accidentally made the BEST EVER Chocolate Muffins. I planned to make coconut flour chocolate cake, but was out of coconut flour. Using almond flour instead and adjusting the liquid quantities resulted in a fantastic grain-free, dairy-free, low sugar recipe that I could not wait to share!

Ingredients

4 cups Almond Flour

2 Tablespoons Cacao powder

1 Teaspoon Baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Rock Salt

1/2 Cup Coconut oil

1/2 Cup Raw local honey

4 Organic Eggs

2 Tablespoons Organic Vanilla Essence (yes it is a lot but just trust me)

1 Cup Dark Chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life Dairy Free but you can use anything you like)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 170 degree (c). Line a muffin tray with papers.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients until well combined and all lumps of flour have broken up.

3. In a separate bowl mix all the wet ingredients with a fork – beating well.

4. Add dry ingredients gradually to the wet ingredients mixing until just combined.

5. Add chocolate chips and stir through.

6. Divide between the muffin cases and bake for 25minutes.

Yum! They are so delicious – we only have 2 left from the batch I made yesterday and I think I deserve dessert tonight……..

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Whole30 Summary

Well I need to update you all on our Whole30 progress or lack thereof! We were going so well with our experiment but we had one major downfall that saw the challenge unravel – communication.

Before my crazy month started I would speak to Michal each night to gather information on his food choices, exercise and temptations. If he had taken any photos he would send them to me after we had spoken for the evening. I would then write it up after putting the kids to bed and post on the blog. This was working relatively well until my nights began to be filled with business plans and study for my exams until the wee hours and my conversations with Mike were few and far between. I did try to ensure that I at least sent him a text goodnight. He responded to my lack of attention by stopping taking photos or recording what he was eating – oh my poor neglected husband. It was not all bad though! We estimate that he lost a total of 6kg based on scale measurements at the commencement of the experiment and just last week! Pretty amazing effort – I wish I could lose 6kg in 3 weeks! Here is a summary of the findings of the experiment:

Experimental Findings: It was found that it is possible to undertake a Paleo lifestyle in a workers’ camp environment. However, there are significant restrictions on the variety of food available and the quality of the choices that are. The level of will-power needed to sustain this lifestyle under these conditions is significantly higher than in a home based scenario whereby you have control over your pantry, fridge and grocery shopping to minimise temptation. The subject reported that adjusting to the removal of added sugars and dairy was rather easy but cravings for starchy carbohydrates were intense and hard to manage. The subject combated these cravings with a dried fruit and nut mix, but when this option was not available or he had a particularly physical day at work the cravings were overwhelming and the subject would succumb to temptation. The subject reported that he felt lighter and less weighed down within the first few days of the challenge. He also reported that his skin was clearer, he was less bloated and had improved digestion. The subject did say that he often felt hungry and if completing the whole30 at home would have made sure there were more options available to satisfy his appetite.

Conclusion: Although the whole 30 days were not completed, the experimental findings showed clear benefits of the diet and described the pros and cons of following a Paleo lifestyle in a camp environment. The physical weight loss and improvement in his skin, digestion, and general feeling of wellbeing are great results to have observed in such a short timeframe. The main objections to successfully completing a whole30 in camp were the lack in variety of compliant food sources and the constant battle with temptation. The subject is keen to participate in another Whole30 but feels he needs to gather more information on managing cravings and also broaden his understanding of the process the body goes through when significantly reducing sugars and carbohydrates to better understand the way he was feeling during the 3 week study.

Thankyou for following on the journey! And I am sure the new year will bring a new challenge.

There is a Positive in every Negative

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There is a positive in every negative….you just have to step back to see it. If you hadn’t noticed I recently dropped off the face of the blogging planet! But I promise I am back!

In the last month I have had two nasty university exams that really stretched me both mentally and physically. I have been running circles around myself financially, as my dog destroyed over $1000 of my clients orders (not insured – there went the entirety of my savings) and I got pulled over by a policeman having a bad day (savings already gone – now onto the credit card). My beautiful business partner for the organic juice bar project had to pull out for family reasons and I have also been struggling through hormonal hell whereby my body thinks it is pregnant and is storing water like a sponge…..way too weird to go into any further. All of the above events have contributed to a massive drop in energy, motivation and blog posts as well as money and sleep. In fact, the only thing heading upwards is my weight (due to hormones and not being able to train due to a third degree burn on my foot).

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On a more positive note, I have just returned from a weeks holiday with my best friend in Melbourne! It was downtime that I so badly needed. I had a forced break from everything on the world wide web as we were staying with her brother and had no internet access at home and our days were jam-packed with activity. I also had a break from university and work which was lovely! I felt a little lost but also a little free (may have been the fact that I was also childless for the week). I so often feel as though I am constantly playing roles – mum, wife, homemaker, uni student, support person, business operator, etc and it was actually fantastic to have the freedom to just be Matilda for the week.

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Having some time away gave me space to dream and gain some clarity around my goals, both in the short-term and the long-term. My short-term plan may have changed but my long-term goals remain the same – I want to educate people on health, wellness and provide support for those living with allergies. As the Organic Juice Bar is sidelined for the moment, I can now focus my energy into my Arbonne business.

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With Arbonne, I have the ability to share my passions through our amazing products and help women improve not just their skin but also their self-confidence and inspire them to start their own businesses and reach their personal goals. I have just launched my own Arbonne Website www.matilda.arbonne.com.au to make it easier for my customers to order, so when you have a chance check it out!

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I also realised that I needed to determine how much time I would dedicate to the blog and what I would do with that time. To keep the flow of my blog consistent for all of you, I will blog about 3 times a week with at least 1 post being a delicious recipe for you to try. As I go on over the next few months be sure to let me know how you are finding the quantity and quality of my posts!

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This week I am going to try to sort out my health with a trip to the doctors and to a Naturopath for further investigation. I also need to increase my water intake and decrease my salt intake to combat some of the water retention. Then I am going to slowly get back into training without pushing myself too far. I do not function well without exercise, it really is a stress release for me and keeps my mind clear.

I am feeling good about my plan and am looking forward to sharing my stories along the way!

Much Love Matilda x

P.S Whole30 was an epic fail – I will update you on that tomorrow.