Choc Coconut Chia Pudding

GO GET:

120g Medjool dates, pitted weight
2 x 400g tins Organic BPA free coconut cream
70g chia seeds
40g cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
50g organic shredded coconut

GET GOING:

  1. Place dates into TM bowl and roughly chop 5 sec/speed 6.
  2. Add remaining ingredients apart from shredded coconut into TM bowl and blend 1 min/speed 10.
  3. Add coconut and mix 10 sec/speed 3.
  4. Pour into one large bowl or individual serving bowls and refrigerate until cold and set.

Serve with cacao nibs, berries or sliced banana.  We also sometimes like to have ours served with a big dollop of homemade sour cream.

Ten Thousand Reasons (Why)

 

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I first heard about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why only 3-4 weeks ago via a post on Facebook. Reading the emotive comments beneath the post, followed by the actual article itself, immediately sparked my interest, and over the following weeks more and more posts about the series – from blogs, Facebook pages and friends – popped up in my news feed. Close friends began to tag me in posts, knowing my feelings about the series. I can honestly say that over the past few weeks, it has haunted me and I have sat down several times at my computer to try and write this post, but not able to fully gather or verbalise my thoughts and feelings.

This morning, as I showered (my thinking time 😉 ), my mind wandered back to a book I have been trying to read for so long it is embarrassing (long gone are the pre-children days of laying in bed reading for hours!) In the two pages of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp I managed to read while waiting in the car at school pick-up time a couple days ago – through eyes that so badly wanted to close in the warm car – I was struck by this realisation. I dislike the series 13 Reasons Why because it is devoid of any hope. No grace, no forgiveness, no joy, no light…just darkness. Can watching this and showing this to our kids really be of benefit?

Tragedy struck Ann Voskamp’s life at a very tender age when her toddler-sister was struck and killed by a delivery truck on the family farm. Ann writes, “And with the laying of her gravestone, the closing up of her deathbed, so closed our lives. Closed to any notion of grace.” (p11) Throughout the years that followed and into Ann’s adulthood, she struggled to find joy in her world (reasons to be thankful, reasons to live!) until one day, her close friend messaged her with a challenge…

“She dares me, and I don’t even blink. Could I write a list of a thousand things that I love? I read her line again. As in, begin another list? To name one thousand blessings–one thousand gifts–is that what she means?” (p45)

I have been struggling now for over half a day about what to write next. I have written and deleted and written again, over and over. I know that there will be many that read this post and disagree with me. More than anything, I want this post to be positive, to be an encouragement. By no means am I trying to be critical, particularly if you/your kids have already watched this series. I guess that what I am trying to do is give hope. I have personally chosen not to watch 13 Reasons Why and I will not allow my children (aged 16, 14, 12 and 10) to watch it either. I feel passionately that I must protect them from it’s content. That is not to say that I am trying to bury my head in the sand regarding the topics of bullying and suicide. I just believe that there are better ways for Isaac and I teach our kids about these topics than via a graphic, violently explicit, dramatised, perhaps even romanticised portrayal that will be stuck in their heads (maybe even cause damage) for the rest of their lives. (“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:3) I want to teach my kids – and pray that I am already by the way I live my own life – how to treat, respect and love others and also, how to love themselves. I want them to see that even in their darkest days, there is hope and light and life…and little things, daily things, that add up to bigger things to be thankful for.

So this is what I have chosen to do, (thanks to Ann Voskamp for the inspiration!) and will be actively encouraging my children to do as well. Please, join us, if you will:

  • Find an empty notebook.  Something pretty, something meaningful (perhaps gifted to you by a loved one or filled with inspirational quotes), something that makes you feel special when writing in it.
  • Find a pen/s you enjoy using – your favourite colour, preferred tip, glitter or none.  I personally really dislike my hand writing and resist writing at all costs (I even get my husband to write our kids’ birthday cards…naughty me!) but hand writing is personal and so will this experience be.
  • Keep paper and pen in your car glove box, your hand bag, etc so you can jot down notes when out and about – transfer them to your notebook later.
    Write authentically, from the heart, as soon as possible, when the thought strikes you…”I am happy because…”, “I feel joy when…”, “I am grateful for…”, “I am thankful for”, “I feel blessed when…”, “I love..”, “I feel alive when…”, “My senses awaken when…”, “My life is worth living because…”, “I feel hope for the future because…”
  • Keep it simple if that’s all you have, be poetic if you like, be honest, be spontaneous, be yourself. Feel free to get creative – tape pictures, tickets, receipts, memorabilia into your notebook.
  • Number your #reasonswhy – soon you will reach 10, then 100, then 1000, then, before you know it….#tenthousandreasonswhy…to be thankful…alive!  🙂

Many of your thoughts and feelings will be deeply personal, you may feel even slightly embarrassed at the thought of sharing them with others. Thats ok, you don’t have to share. This is for you. But if you feel compelled to share, please do! I will share some of my own #reasonswhy now and then on my Facebook page.

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“I begin the list. Not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have.

  1. Morning shadows across the old floors

  2. Jam piled high on toast

  3. Cry of the blue jay from high in the spruce

This is the beginning and I smile. I can’t believe how I smile. I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down–it is sort of like…unwrapping love.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p45

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts or you just need some love and support, there are many places that can help:

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467

Please know, you are NEVER alone, and there is hope.  ❤

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Ten Thousand Reasons by Matt Redman

 

24-hour Cultured Yoghurt and Sour Cream

Since starting on the GAPS diet approximately one year ago, we have been making at least 2L each of sour cream and yoghurt per week.  The kids most days have a bowl of yoghurt with homemade GAPS muesli (will have to write that one up later!) and we use the sour cream on lots of things from Mexican to stews to frittata to soups to desserts (think, in place of cream!)  I love it with baked berries and pepitas as an afternoon snack.  It is so rich and creamy and delish!!  The yoghurt and sour cream both need to be cultured for 24 hours (the beneficial bacteria eat up the lactose and break down the milk protein casein, making it easier on sensitive tummies) so we do this in a dehydrator and often dry out nuts we have soaked at the same time.  At the end of the 24 hours, you will have jars full of rich, creamy, lactose-free yogurt/sour cream rich with beneficial bacteria, active enzymes, B vitamins, biotin, vitamin K2, and essential fatty acids.  If you don’t have a dehydrator (sorry, I haven’t tried it without one!) you will need to find a way to keep your yoghurt/sour cream warm.  Some suggestions (but can’t guarantee they work) – use a preheated Thermoserver that is wrapped in towels and kept in a warm place, in a water bath in an esky (make sure the water isn’t too hot!) or in the oven with the oven-light left turned on.  When culturing ours in the dehydrator, we have found that using smaller jars (we use 250ml tomato paste jars for the sour cream and small flip lid jars from Ikea for the yoghurt) helps it to set better/thicker.  The yoghurt will never set really thick (both the sour cream and yoghurt will thicken considerably once cooled in the fridge) so you can drip it in a cheesecloth or muslin cloth in the fridge, removing some of the whey.  Our kids love it as is, so we don’t bother.  You can easily reduce this recipe if you don’t have a family as big (or as piggie) as ours, so just reduce the heating time a little (but not the culturing time).

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GO GET:

Sour Cream;

1.75L pure cream
250g good quality natural yoghurt (we use Jalna Organic) or 250g yoghurt reserved from a homemade batch
Enough glass jars for 2L

Yoghurt;

1.5L full cream unhomogenised milk
250g pure cream
250g good quality natural yoghurt (we use Jalna Organic) or 250g yoghurt reserved from a homemade batch
Enough glass jars for 2L

GET GOING:

  1. Depending on which recipe you are making (or if you are as fortunate as us and have 2 Thermomixes, make both simultaneously!), pour cream or milk/cream into the TM bowl and heat 20 min/90ºC/speed 2.
  2. Cool the heated cream/milk until no temperature lights light up on the Thermomix display when you place the bowl back on the machine.  To speed up the cooling process, take the lid off the TM bowl and place it into the fridge.
  3. Add the yoghurt to the TM bowl and mix 10 sec/speed 3.
  4. Heat 15 min/37ºC/speed 2.
  5. Immediately pour the sour cream/yoghurt into clean jars, put the lids on and then place into the bottom of the dehydrator.
  6. Incubate for 24 hours on 37-40ºC (be careful not to go higher than 40ºC!)
  7. Refrigerate reserving 250g yoghurt for your next batch.  Enjoy this creamy delicious delight!  🙂

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One Day at a Time

Over the past several weeks, our 16 year old daughter has been having numerous tests conducted to determine what is causing her severe eczema (the worst case our specialist has ever seen).  Yesterday, we found out the results.  Leading up to the appointment, I was a mixture of excitement and hopefulness.  During the appointment, I was keen to hear the results – to finally have answers and to be able to move forward in improving Talitha’s health.  By the end of the appointment I was overwhelmed, and maybe a little in shock.  No, the results weren’t devastating.  Talitha is not suffering from anything life-threatening and in fact, many of the findings were positive (her beneficial flora levels, for example, are good, which the doctor credited to the diet we have been on for the past 12 months).

One of the tests conducted on Talitha was her reaction to a panel of foods (IgA and IgG).  Of the 96 foods Talitha was tested against, she reacts (ranging from very low to extremely high) to 62 foods!  I completely expected her to react to some foods but to two-thirds of everything she was tested for?…no.  Many of the foods Talitha reacts to we have already eliminated from our diet – grains, legumes, certain dairy, cane sugar. But vegetables?…vegetables!  Talitha has a low to moderate reaction to avocado, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, celery, pumpkin, zucchini and tomato.  We eat all of these vegetables and A LOT of these vegetables!  We love our veggies!  I stood at the stove at dinner time last night and broke down.  What do I cook?  We are already so restricted in our diet.  I already have to be so creative to make food we can all eat, and enjoy.  What now?

Last night, my brain went into overdrive.  Of the 96 foods Talitha was tested against, by far the most severe reactions are to eggs, pineapple and honey.  Though we eat pineapple, it is not a big part of our diet, but eggs and honey are.  Honey is our only way of sweetening food, apart from fruit, and eggs are our go-to breakfast most mornings.  OK, we’ll give her almond porridge for breakfast…nope, she reacts to almonds.  Pumpkin soup?  Nope she reacts to pumpkin.  I asked the doctor about foods Talitha has a ‘very low’ reaction to (broccoli, coconut, cabbage, cucumber).  We can give her those foods once every four days.  Foods she has a ‘low’ reaction to (carrot, cauliflower, pumpkin, lettuce, tuna)?  Once a week.  Foods she has a ‘moderate’ to ‘extremely high’ reaction to (green beans, almonds, celery, tomato, and more…)?  Completely eliminate from her diet.  Last night was not a great night.

I woke this morning feeling flat and weary.  It doesn’t help I have my own health issues (including sleep apnoea), but last night we also had a very loud thunder storm here in Perth.  On the days my hubby Isaac works, he leaves for work early, just before I get up.  He always preps what he can in the kitchen – to help me out – and quite often leaves me sweet little notes explaining what he has prepped and expressing his love for me.  This morning was no exception.  Pot of fresh coffee made, eggs beaten and ready to be scrambled, saucepan of chicken broth heated and ready to pour into mugs, banana muffins packed in lunch boxes (a banana in Talitha’s instead).  I jumped into gear.  Poured out the broth, heated one saucepan full of pork and veg for lunch for the younger three kids, a second saucepan with last night’s leftover beef patties and veg for Talitha’s lunch.  Chopped a whole onion, started frying it in homemade ghee…added sliced mushroom and near the end of cooking, baby spinach – Talitha’s breakfast.  Fried the scrambled eggs – the other three children’s breakfast.  Woke the still sleeping 10 year old (she was up several times during the night – the thunder was soooooo loud).  Rushed to my bathroom to dry my hair (yes, I did all of the above with a towel on my head! 😉 )  We’ve got this!

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My plan from here:  Take one day at a time.  Breathe.  Pray.  Cry.  Cook.  Repeat.  Hug my hubby.  Hug my kids.  Talk to my close friends.  We will get there.  I have much hope.  Praise God for the gift of life…His creation.

Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

PS – In addition to the Food Panel (IgG/IgA) test results coming back yesterday, we also found out Talitha has intestinal dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut flora/bacteria), Candida Kefyr (a strain our specialist has never seen before), very low zinc and very high copper.  We will be dealing with all of this at the same time as carefully implementing dietary changes.  Your prayers are very much appreciated.  🙂

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Mini-Meatloaves

These little meatloaves are packed full of flavour and the goodness of veggies.  We always have our butcher mince 100g liver to every 1kg beef mince so they are also another great way of getting liver into you, especially if you’re not a fan – I promise, you can’t taste it at all!  This recipe makes 2-2.5 dozen mini-meatloaves which is perfect for our family size as we always have enough left over for school lunches the next day – the kids are more than happy to down them cold.  You can, of course, halve this recipe, but why would you?  Unlike meatballs, they take very little time to press into the muffin trays.

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GO GET:

50g linseeds
Handful parsley and/or other herbs of choice
3 cloves garlic
1 onion, halved
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, including leaves, roughly chopped
100g baby spinach leaves
1 zucchini (approx. 150g), roughly chopped
1kg beef mince (or half beef, half pork)
2 eggs
2-3 tbs butter or other good quality fat (ghee, coconut oil, duck fat)
2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: Bacon to line muffin holes
Homemade ketchup or BBQ sauce

GET GOING:

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC and line 2-3 muffin trays with paper or silicone liners.
  2. Place linseeds into TM bowl and mill 30 secs/speed 10.  Tip out into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Place parsley, onion and garlic into TM bowl and chop 3 sec/speed 7.  Tip into mixing bowl.
  4. Place carrots, and celery into TM bowl and chop 5 sec/speed 5 or until finely chopped. Tip into mixing bowl.
  5. Place spinach and zucchini into TM bowl and chop 5-10 sec/speed 4, until evenly chopped.  Tip into mixing bowl.
  6. Add remaining ingredients to mixing bowl (apart from bacon and ketchup/BBQ sauce) and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  7. Press mixture into muffin holes to the top of each hole (if using bacon, line each muffin hole with a slice of bacon first).  Bake 25-30 mins until beginning to lightly brown.
  8. Remove mini-meatloaves from the oven, top with approx. 1 tsp ketchup/BBQ sauce each, then return to the oven for a further 10-15 mins.  The meatloaves are also delicious topped with a slice of cheese.  Pour remaining juices (in muffin holes) over the meatloaves (or if having mash, over that!) when serving – delicious!

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Mini-meatloaves served with cauli-mash and steamed green beans.  A perfectly balanced GAPS meal.

 

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

This icing recipe is incredible!  It is refined sugar free (uses the goodness of raw honey) and perfect for those on the Full GAPS diet.  It is obviously still a now-and-then treat recipe but is absolutely perfect for birthday cakes and other special occasions.

GO GET:

230g cold butter
180g raw honey
30g cocoa or cacao powder
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

GET GOING:

  1. Place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix on speed 4, stopping now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Once the icing is creamy and well mixed, you are done!
  3. Ice cooled cake/cupcakes immediately.  Store leftover (haha!) icing in the fridge and bring out to soften slightly before using.

VARIATIONS:

Choc Mint:  Add up to 10 drops of dōTERRA Peppermint oil in step 1.  Start with 5 drops and add more after tasting to your preference.
Jaffa:  Add up to 10 drops of dōTERRA Wild Orange oil in step 1.  Start with 5 drops and add more after tasting to your preference.
Choc Peanut Butter:  Add 150g natural/homemade peanut butter in step 1.  Goes perfect with the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes (pictured below).

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Grain-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes with Choc Peanut Butter Icing and cacao nibs.

Super-moist Grain-free Chocolate Cake

One of the hardest parts about being on GAPS, especially with kids, is trying to find good recipes that are equal to their unhealthier counterparts in terms of flavour and texture, and don’t leave you feeling deprived and disappointed.  This recipe was a very pleasant discovery just prior to my 40th last year.  I wanted a low-key celebration with just my family – lunch at a local winery, followed by cake and coffee back at home.  Good ol’ google came to the rescue once again – I found this recipe originally on Honest Body and tweaked it slightly plus adapted it to Thermomix.  It uses A LOT of honey (which provides both sweetness and moisture), but is very rich so you only *need* a small piece.  In the pic below, I doubled the recipe and it easily served more than 16 people (yes, I have a large family!)  The buttercream icing recipe is also from Honest Body and my adapted Thermomix version (plus peppermint, jaffa and peanut butter variations) can be found on this blog.  Decoration was kept simple (like me!) – native flowers from my garden (just make sure if using flowers they are not poisonous!)  The cake was a huge success, enjoyed by one and all!  Victory!  It is always exciting when a recipe is a success, especially when also eaten (and critiqued) by those who just eat “regular food”.  😉

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GO GET:

120g butter, cubed, or coconut oil
280g honey
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
6 eggs
40g unsweetened cocoa or cacao
60g coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

GET GOING:

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC.  Grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin.
  2. Place butter into TM bowl and melt 2-3 min/50ºC/speed 1-2.
  3. Add honey, vanilla and eggs and mix 5 sec/speed 5.
  4. Add cocoa, coconut flour, baking soda and salt and mix 5 sec/speed 4.  Scrape sides of TM bowl and mix 5 sec/speed 4.
  5. Pour cake mix into cake tin and bake 40-50 mins until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

This recipe also works very well as cupcakes- bake 20-25 mins instead.

Once cooled, ice cake or cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing of choice.

Recently, my eldest son wanted a peanut butter dessert for his 14th birthday.  Once again, this recipe came to the rescue!  To make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full with cake mix, dollop a generous teaspoon of natural/homemade peanut butter into the centre of each cake, then top with a little more cake mix.  Once cooled, ice with Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing.

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Cupcakes from my daughter’s 10th birthday party.  We used a few drops of dōTERRA peppermint oil in the icing and topped them with Hoppers sprinkles…they were demolished by the kids and parents!