Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My 3 favourite recipes for winter kids dinners in the Thermomix

One of my most popular posts is my Top 5 recipes for super easy kids meals in the thermomix. It's about a year since I first posted it that I though it was high time I did an update.  Finding the inspiration to make dinner for the kids EVERY SINGLE DAY can be quite tedious, so hopefully these might help.   Just in time for winter (well in the Southern end of the world anyway) here is a great selection of 'warm belly food' especially for kids.

1.  Vegetarian Chilli Con Carne

I have actually based this recipe on a Jamie Oliver old faithful, but I have replaced the mince with a whole heap of yummy veggies instead.  It's now one of our favourite dinners (although Mr D does complain that it is lacking in the 'chilli' department as it's very mild).  Can't please them all! Oh and it also makes the kitchen smell AMAZING when it's cooking.
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots (or 3 if they're small)
1 large red capsicum
2 sticks of celery
1/2 sweet potato
1 tbs olive oil
1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes/powder or a real chilli if you prefer (feel free to add more but my kids like it mild)
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tsp tomato paste
1 tsp rice malt syrup (or brown sugar)
2 tbs vegetable stock paste (I used a homemade one)
50g water

Put the onion, garlic, capsicum, celery, carrot and sweet potato into the thermomix and chop for 5 seconds on speed 6.  Add the oil, cinnamon, cumin and chilli flakes and cook for 5 minutes at varoma temperature on reverse speed 1.  Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, chick peas, stock paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar and tomato paste and cook for a further 18 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse speed soft.  I serve it with fluffy basmati rice and a dollop of creme fraishe (or plain yoghurt) on top.

2.  Sweet Chicken Curry

This is the only curry my kids eat (apart from butter chicken) and it couldn't be easier to whip up. It's a very mild dish too so you may want to add a bit of extra spice if you're going to feed the grown ups too.

1 large apple (peeled and cored)
1 zucchini
2 carrots
1 tbsp fruit chutney (I use Mrs Balls Original which I get in the supermarket)
1 onion
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
500 chicken breast cut into chunks
1 tbsp vegetable stock paste (I use a homemade one)
300g water
2 tbsp plain (or gluten free) flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp rice malt syrup (or honey or golden syrup)
1 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut

Place the apple in the thermomix and chop for 5 seconds on speed 4-5.  Scrape down the side and add the fruit chutney.  Mix together for 5 seconds on reverse speed 3.  Set aside in a separate bowl.  Add the zucchini and carrot and chop for 5 seconds on speed 5.  Set aside in a separate bowl.  Put the onion in the bowl and chop 3-5 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape down the sides and add the oil and curry powder and saute for 3 minutes on varoma reverse speed 1.  Add all the remaining ingredients except the apple and cook for 10 minutes on 100 degrees reverse speed soft. Add the apple and cook for a further 10 minutes on 90 degrees reverse speed soft.  Serve up with some coconut rice and enjoy.

3.  Sausage and Veggie Hot Pot

I love this dish and it's soo good on a really chilly winters night.  If there are any leftovers I blitz them in the thermomix on speed 9-10 for about 20 seconds until it's smooth and then freeze it.  It makes the perfect pasta sauce or tomato pizza base on those nights when you need something quick.  It is also freezable just as it is and the kids love it.

500g sausages (of your choice, but I usually use beef)
120g diced bacon
500g veggies (I use carrot, zucchini, sweet potato and red capsicum)
1 clove of garlic
1 onion
1 x 400g tin cannelloni beans
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp vegetable stock paste (I use a homemade one)
100g water
1 tsp sugar (or rice malt syrup)

Place the sausage under the grill and cook for approx. 15-20 minutes until they are cooked through.  Once they have cooled, cut them into 2cm thick slices and set aside.  Add the veggies and chop for 3-5 seconds on speed 5-6.  You don't want them to be chopped too finely, so start with 3 seconds and chop further if you need to.  Set them aside.  Add onion, and garlic and chop for 5 seconds on speed 5.   Add the bacon and olive oil and cook for 3-4 minutes at varoma temperature on reverse speed 1.  Add veggies, tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, sugar, stock and water.  Cook for 18 minutes on 100 degrees reverse speed soft.  Check that the veggies are soft (if not then cook for a further 3-5 minutes).  Add the sausage slices and mix on reverse speed 2 for 3-5 seconds. My kids love it served with lots of grated cheese.

So there you have it - my top 3.

If you have any other recipes I'd love to hear them.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Dipping my toes into something different........Wordless Wednesday

There are some very exciting things happening behind the scenes on Mrs D plus 3 (well, very exciting for me anyway!!).  We're having a full blown make over!!  It's quite a daunting task as I've got a head FULL of ideas but seem to spend half my time going round in round in circles not knowing where to start!!  The other half of my time has been totally lost in Pinterest - I mean really, who invented Pinterest??  Genius I say.

There is still LOTS to be done and I don't want to give too much away but here is a little peak at some new formats I have been 'playing with' for displaying my photos.  Nothing is set in stone yet, so watch this space.
The biggest change of all for me will be the move from Blogger over to a self hosted Wordpress site.

If anyone has any tips or advice for me, or any widgets I MUST have, please do tell.  I'd love to hear them all.

Happy Hump Day :)) and linking up as always with lovely Trish from My Little Drummer Boys. I also usually link with the lovely Bree from Twinkle in the eye, but she has just had a beautiful baby boy today so (obviously) won't be hosting - congratulations Bree, wonderful news xxxx

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Friday, 25 April 2014

'Reboot with Joe' Days 6-10. Top tips for doing a juice detox.

I really meant for this post to publish straight after my Reboot with Joe days 1-5 posthowever my limited technology knowledge completely failed me.  I attempted to schedule the post while I was sipping wine on the beach over the Easter break but unfortunately it didn't work.  So better late than never - here it is....

I survived my 'Reboot with Joe' detox days 1-5 relatively unscathed and was ready to dive straight into the next 5 days of just juice.  I would much rather have eaten food if truth be told, but I was on such a roll that I couldn't stop now!  The next few days got really tough at times.  I struggled to get my head around not eating - at all!!  I just needed to chew.......something, anything.......(I could have chewed a couple of kids at one point, but luckily it didn't get to that). The first two days for me fell on a weekend which was absolute torture.  Mr D and the kids ate their saturday morning pancakes while I sipped on a 'Joe's mean green' trying not to breath through my nose as the delicious smells wafting through the air were enough to make me leave home (well at least for a walk around the block until they finished breakfast).

I did get into the swing of it though and found the week days much much easier.  There were some juices that were really tasty and filling and others that I had to talk to myself (like a mad women) just to keep swallow them!!  So here's my low down:

Day 6 
I managed it!  That's all.  Sorry if this doesn't sound encouraging but it was really tough getting through the day, even though (strangely enough) I wasn't actually hungry.  It was definitely a mental game.

Day 7
Not much improvement today.  Mostly because it was still the weekend and I was surrounded by all the foods I wanted to eat but couldn't.  I did love the feeling of not being bloated at all AND I managed to get my skinny jeans on!  I still couldn't do them up yet, but that's just details right? HAPPY DAYS!!

Day 8
By now I was in the swing of juicing and apart from the celery and cucumber ones, I was actually starting to enjoy them.  I made sure I had one in my handbag everywhere I went so that I could just sip on it all day long and that really helped keep hunger (and occasional dizzy spells) at bay. My skin also started to break out a little, which to me was a good sign because it mean it was getting rid of toxins! I had a few uncomfortable tummy craps but managed to fix them by eating a small handful of raw almonds. Cheating, I know but at least it wasn't chocolate or bread!!!!
Day 9
I had a really really busy day and I felt exhausted and totally zapped of energy.  I had to dig deep not to make myself a ham and cheese toasty or a bowl full of carbs.  I think I might have even dreamed about one!!

Day 10
Total was weigh in day for me and I was another 2.5 kilo's lighter.  That's a total of just under 5 in 10 days.  I honestly couldn't wipe the smile off my face all day.  It's been tough but oh so rewarding and I was really starting to feel fantastic.

If you think you'd like to join in you can fin all the details HERE.  You can also find out how I did on days 1-5 of this detox program HERE.

I still have 5 days to go to complete my challenge, so stay tuned and I'll keep you updated on my progress!

  • Don't do any heavy exercise, you just won't have the energy for it.  I managed to do my body step classes in the first 5 days of my detox but when I was just on the juice there is no way I could have managed it.  Running around after the kids was more than enough!!
  • Make sure you have ALL the fruit and veg you need for the duration.  Believe me you won't be happy if you're desperate for your next fix and you don't have the right ingredients in the fridge.
  • Don't give up.  You CAN DO IT.  It's for such a short time and you will feel fantastic at the end.
  • Avoid places like coffee shops or restaurants if you can, it's just not going to help.
  • If you are feeling really unwell at any time at all during the detox, consult a doctor.

Have you ever felt like you could eat just about anything before (even a kid)?

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

5 today! Can you please stop growing so fast!

"Mouse (our nickname for Miss H) can you just stop growing for a little while, mummy can't keep up"  I whispered to her at bedtime the other night.  "But mummy, I just don't know how to stop" she told me.  "Could you maybe just try, for me?" I asked.  "Ok mummy" she said "I'll stop growing, but only until I'm 5 because when I turn 5 I'll have to be 5 and not 4!!"  "Okay, that'll do" I said as I kissed her goodnight.
Today she is 5!  That means she'll have to start growing again and there is nothing I can do about it except watch her with a heart so full of love it could burst at any given moment.

These five years have been a whirlwind of smiles and I am so proud of the little girl she is becoming every day.  I adore her big heart and untainted view of the world.  The way she still needs me when she's feeling a little shy or nervous and her huge enthusiasm for just about everything life throws at her.  I couldn't be more proud of you my darling and I love you to the moon and back.  Happy Birthday.

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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Wordless Wednesday and The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Yesterday I took my two big school kids to the Opera House to see Oliver Jeffer's "The Incredible Book Eating Boy" and they loved it.  Miss H wasn't sure at all about the theatre because it's 'too dark in here mummy' but once it started she forgot about being scared and joined it with all the action.  It's a great little show and very funny.  If you're in Sydney these school holidays I can highly recommend it.  The highlight was when the cat did a poo!!!

Such a pair of clowns!  
Selfie!! Trying to teach them how to take a selfie was hilarious and we had to do about 100 takes once they go the hang of it.

We've been seeing these beautiful rhinos all of the place of late.  Having some Africa in my soul I think the campaign is AMAZING!  I remember seeing real rhino's in South Africa and they are such beautiful animals. I'll be so sad if my kids never get to see any :(
Rhino love 
Running at Sydney's Opera House until Sunday 27th April
They just couldn't' resist and of course I obliged with my camera
Aarghh getting the boat home instead of the bus was not my smartest decision.  I was greener than a grass snake, much to the kids amusement!

Have you ever seen a real rhino?

The Royal Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be visiting the Opera House in Sydney TODAY, will you be going too?

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Sponsored Post: A spontaneous drive to Palm Beach and a chance to win a $2,000 travel voucher!

We're very spoilt living in Sydney's North as there are just so many stunning drives to go on, and all literally right on our door step.  Actually the whole of Australia is like one undiscovered gem full of amazing drives just waiting for us to jump in the car and explore them.  We just need a few more weeks of holidays thrown into the year and we'll be sorted.

When Shell Australia and Digital Parents approached to me write about my most favourite drive, the first one that popped into my head was the drive from our home, along the coast to Palm Beach.  It's only about a 20 minute drive from where I live or just over an hour if you're coming from centre of Sydney.  The road pretty much hugs the coastline the whole way there and the views are just spectacular.  There are quite a few look out points to stop at along the way, where you can just sit and soak up the view.  I think you can see as far as Manly from one them.  When we have visitors over from the UK who are just with us for a short time, this is always the drive I take them on. Also if you're a bit of sticky-beak like me there are also some AMAZING house to look at along the way too.  Some of them are so high up in the cliffs that you have to get a lift to the front door!!  The kids are totally fascinated by them and I can only just imagine the view they must have.

We often do this drive on the weekend and spent a lazy day wondering around beautiful Palm Beach.  The Sunday markets are so much fun and almost right on the water's edge too.  There are also some of the BEST cafe's I've ever been too, with my all time favourite being the Boat House. You can sit on the deck, surrounded by the water and watch the sea planes fly in and out, while enjoying a coffee or lunch.  The best part is that the kids just want to swim and play on the beach and you can actually watch them do it without moving from your table!!  No wonder I LOVE it there.
Last weekend I planned for us all to drive up there for the afternoon, so I could take some photos for this post and enjoy some detox friendly coconut water (served in a real coconut! - and yep I'm still detoxing) but guess what???????  IT RAINED!!!! And rained and rained and rained and rained!!!  So there went that idea and I was left to watch Frozen for the millionth time!

On Wednesday afternoon, completely unplanned and on a whim, I grabbed the kids from school and we headed up to Palm Beach.  It's not something I would normally do on a school day but it was SO much fun!!  I told them we were taking a little road-trip so mummy could take some photos and there would be a big, fat ice-cream in it for them when we got there.  No even a single whinge!!

We had so much fun, cranking up the radio and singing at the top of our voices and playing "blueberry and Spoto!"  Not a stitch of homework was done (oops!) but there were smiles all round!  And the views...........they just never get old. Ever!

I don't often do spontaneity like I did that afternoon but I really really should!!

Here's the sponsored bit and I promise it's worth it so don't stop reading yet!  Shell Australia have launched this fabulous new website called LoVe Drives where you can upload a story, pictures or information about your favourite drive in Australia.  Once it's uploaded anyone can have a read of it, and hopefully you will inspire them to drive somewhere new with some great tips for exploring a place they haven't yet visited.  The other part (which I think is particularly awesome) is that you can use LoVe Drives to plot your route if you are planning a road trip.  That way you can get all the information that other people have already uploaded about your exact road trip, meaning that you won't miss anything exciting on your journey.  You will be in the 'know if you know what I mean!'  I am so going to use this for our upcoming camping trip next week. We have a 7 hour drive to get there and as I have never been south of Sydney before I want to see EVERYTHING that's cool!!  You can use this tool for a day trip, a sneaky city escape or even a long road trip across Australia.

So all you have to do is create, explore (or explore, create) and GET DRIVING!  To make it even more exciting Shell Australia are giving away a $100 fuel voucher to the best 3 three drives uploaded each week (with a total of 18 to giveaway).  The promotion will end at 4pm AEST on 28th April 2014.  At the end of the promotion the 4 best drives will each receive a $2,000 travel voucher!! (these 4 drives do not have to been from the weekly fuel voucher winners, they could be anyone!).  How exciting!!!  You can find all the details and terms and conditions HERE.

This is seriously NOT TO BE MISSED and as we're just about to head into the Easter school holidays there is no excuse not to get driving - even if it's just for the weekend.  Oh and if you're heading South of Sydney please upload your drive and pics and let me know so I can check it out.

Good Luck!

*This post was sponsored by Shell Australia and The Digital Parents Group.  I have been paid to write it however the Palm Beach drive story, all the images and opinions are my own.

Monday, 7 April 2014

'Reboot with Joe' days 1-5. Top tips for doing a juice detox

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine opted to drink a bottle of this revolting looking green juice instead of joining us for our usual mid-morning coffee at our playgroup catchup.  We all listened intently as she told us about this 15 day re-boot juicing program she was doing.  In all honestly I thought she was as mad as a box of frogs!  There was no freaking way I was not having my morning coffee!!!

The idea of just having pretty much nothing but juice and green juice at that made me literally shudder.  There was just no way I could do!! NO WAY!!!

So how on earth did I end up doing it????  Mmmmmm yes, good question.  Well......... the lovely Gina (mad as a box of frogs friend) sent the link for a documentary film called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (delightful title) and I was so intrigued that I had to watch it.  If you're in any way intrigued it!!!  It explains everything you need to know about the benefits of detoxing.

As shallow as it sounds, the thing that caught my attention was the amount of weight Gina had lost in such a short space of time (not that she even needed to)!!  I know I'm not huge, but I have been trying for so long to loose the last little bit of my baby weight and it's just not happening!! I lost it so easily after baby one and two but the third time round I am really struggling.

I couldn't stop thinking about the reboot detox and the concept of literally spring cleaning my whole body (and of course loosing those last few pounds).  For about a week I mulled it over and then grilled Gina about it on the phone one afternoon while I was sat watching Miss H's swimming lesson.  I decided to just suck it up and do it.  And that was it!!

The program I followed was 'Reboot with Joe' and he includes a FULL shopping list, step by step meal plan and all the recipes too.  It takes all the 'thinking' out of it and all you have to do is following the steps and polish up your will power.

I am now on day 8 and still going strong.  Here are a few tips I have if you want to join in too and a few details of what to expect.

  • Invest in a juicer.  I tried to use my thermomix as a juicer but it just wasn't happening, so I went out and bought a Breville Juicer and it has been fantastic.
  • Follow the shopping list and make sure you have all the ingredients you need before you start.  Joe gives you a new shopping list ever 5 days, but I actually got my ingredients every 3 days as I just didn't have enough space in my fridge to store everything.
  • It's a lot cheaper to use frozen berries than fresh ones.
  • Be organised.  I can't stress enough how important this one is.  If you're busy like me you really need to know exactly what you're making that day and if you can pre-prepare anything than do it.  There is nothing worse that being starving and you can't eat anything because you're not home and have not made a juice to bring with you.
  • The first 5 days include juicing and some food but no dairy, meat, sugar or carbohydrates. The following 10 days are just juice.
  • Be prepared to go to the toilet - all the time!!!
  • Be brave - it's only 15 days.  Some of the recipes sound revolting but are actually not that bad after all.
Full details of shopping list, meal/juice plan and all recipes for the 15 day Reboot with Joe program can be found here.

Day 1 
I actually found that there was too much to eat and I couldn't keep up with it all.  I felt great, enjoyed the food and really didn't see what all the fuss was about!!

Day 2
Now the fun kicked in (cue sarcasm!). Not being able to have coffee left me with the most horrendous headache that felt like someone was stabbing at my temples all day.  Other than having to tell myself several times that 'this is self inflicted and NOT the kids fault' day 2 was not too bad.  I wasn't left feeling hungry at all.

Day 3
This was a funny day really - for some reason I felt really emotional and found myself getting all teary over the silliest things.  Also my cravings for a big fat slice of fresh bread with butter REALLY started to kick in today, especially when I was eating soup.
Juice instead of coffee (sobs)
Day 4
Day 2's lingering headache was starting to slowly disappear and I had the best nights sleep I've had in a long time.  I was also starting to get used to drinking the different juices, although it still took some extra will power to drink anything with celery in it.  I also discovered that chopped kale, garlic, onions and some chilli olive oil is actually bloody delicious!! Who would have though it?

Day 5
This was by far the hardest day for me so far as it was our wedding anniversary and Mr D was taking me out for dinner.  We went to a beautiful fish restaurant and I had some amazing grilled tuna with roasted vegetables.  However it just took EVERY ounce of strength I had not to order any wine.  It was coconut water all the way for me.  The only thing that got me through was that fact that I had lost just over 2kgs - in 5 DAYS!!!  The other thing I noticed was how beautiful and long my nails have grown.  Bonus!!

I'm about half way though now and although I wouldn't say it's been easy, it hasn't been as hard as I though it would be either.  I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Have you ever done a detox before??  How did you find it??

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

White chocolate Easter Egg bark

Miss H's birthday is right slap bang in the middle of the Easter school holidays.  You'd think it would be much more fun to have your birthday in the holidays but she is devastated because she wanted to take 'cakes' in for all her class at school!!  Poor little thing I did feel for her.

Our school breaks up for the holidays on Friday and the kids are doing an Easter Hat Parade, which I'm sure will be very cute.  Miss H is very enthusiastic about her Easter Hat, but Master J is verging on being too old for it now and is not quite as excited.  The best bit is the Easter picnic that follows and everyone is allowed to bring in an Easter treat for their morning tea.  I asked Miss H if we could make something 'Eastery' for her class and she could take them in instead of birthday cakes to have at the picnic.  THAT got rid of the teas - phew!!

I made chocolate bark at Christmas last year and it was so quick and easy that I thought making an Easter version would be a great idea.

What you'll need
  • 1 bag of white chocolate melts
  • 1 bag of Cadburys mini eggs
  • some coloured string or ribbon (I got my from Woolies)
  • Some clear or Easter cellophane bags (again I got mine from Woolies)
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Take a rolling pin (or something similar) and bash the mini eggs (still in their bag) until they break up into little pieces.  This is a great job for any little helpers you may have.
  • Melt the white chocolate in a pan on the stove top, stirring slowly.  I find it better to have it on a low heat so the bottom doesn't burn.
  • Once the chocolate is completely melted spread it over the grease proof paper in a thin even layer.
  • Immediately pour the crushed mini eggs on top and pop the tray in the fridge in the fridge.
  • After a couple of hours take it out the fridge and snap it up into bit sized shards.  This is another great job for little helpers.
We then put a few pieces into each bag and tied them up with colourful string.

They're all in the fridge waiting to go to school and I'm sure Miss almost 5 will be very happy to hand them out to her friends.  I forget how important these little thing are when you're almost 5!!!

I love Easter baking and made these cute bunny cupcakes last year.  This year we're going to be camping over Easter, so I'm not really sure how I'm going to manage to do any!

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on how to do Easter in a campsite????

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Thursday, 3 April 2014

How to deal with change

Change is something that is often so hard to get your head around, but how could we possibly grow without it??

I've had to deal with quite a lot of change in my life.  Some of it has been huge, like moving to England with my family when I was only a pre-teen, and then moving again to Australia three years ago with my own children.  Some changes have been a lot more subtle though, but equally as tough. I think that sometimes (for me anyway) it's the mental changes that are the toughest.  If I think back to the person I was just a few years ago - she's almost a completely different me.

When I was in my early twenties I went through a pretty heart wrenching break-up and it left me in a bit of a crumpled mess.  One of my lecturers at the time was a very spiritual lady and she taught the me art of Reiki, (which I fell in love with and became a Master Practitioner myself). She also taught me a little something about change which I have never forgotten and I often find myself referring back to it again and again.

 It went something like this.......

You life is just like your wardrobe.  You can only use it to store clothes that actually fit you and that you'd happily wear.  If you kept all your baby and toddler clothes in your wardrobe, you would have no room for when you become a pre-teen and then a teenager etc.  There would be no room for you to grow.  You're always going to have certain outfits that are so adorable or really sentimental that you'll want to keep forever, and that's ok, but they need to be put away somewhere safe where you can get to them as and when you need to.

This is exactly how we should to deal with our emotions as we change and grow through life.  If you cling on to everything you would never be able to move forward in life.  Change is a good thing.  That's not to mean you have to let go of everything.  Some things are precious and need to be stored but others we just have to let go of so there is room for the new stuff.

I hope this resonates with some of you, as it's a little gem that has really helped me to let go and move forward.

What's blocking you from moving forward??  Are you ready to pack it away??

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