Monday, February 8, 2016

THE VALENTINE'S DAY EDIT



With Valentine's Day approaching, I would like to share a few carefully selected, beautiful and thoughtful gifts that I have recently added to the online store.

Treat your loved one to an elegant blend of home grown and locally gathered edible flowers, vanilla and rose himalayan bath salts, a candle scented with notes of blood orange, elderflower and goji berry. Or perhaps a personally signed cookbook might be a lovely gift idea for your Valentine.

Limited numbers available. Shop online here. 







Friday, February 5, 2016

LEMONY MOUSSE WITH POACHED RASPBERRIES AND THYME HONEY


Raspberries truly are the most exquisite of fruits. Served in unadorned simplicity, layered within a lemony cream mousse. Thyme honey brings a slightly herbal note to this elegant dessert. Serve in appropriately small portions, and devour with a teaspoon. Find the recipe in this weeks column for Viva- The New Zealand Herald.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

THE PREGNANCY SERIES / ESSENTIALS FOR MAMA


During pregnancy, I often find myself feeling stronger and more beautiful as a woman. There is such a special sweetness in the slow nature of growing a child within your body. One thing is for certain, there's no other experience in life quite like it. I instinctively have a desire to pamper and nourish myself more so than before. I have detailed a few of my well loved pregnancy essentials here on the blog that have been helping me to feel content and well.


FEELING LOVELY DURING PREGNANCY

Comfort is essential during pregnancy, although I still enjoy feeling lovely and wear clothing that will accentuate my growing curves rather than hide them. I seem to be a little fussy when it comes to having anything around my belly, and for this reason have been wearing simple summer dresses most days, not only for lightness but for the beautiful femininity they bring.




I prefer to wear cotton and silk, particularly during summer as I find the fabric breathable and gentle on my belly. Investing in a few practical essentials that can be worn before, during and after pregnancy ensure plenty of wear from each piece.

Simple, elegant and feminine, the Staple and Cloth lounge slip dress pictured above has a soft a-line silhouette. It floats beautifully over the belly. The silk dress has delicate adjustable straps and a flattering neckline with soft gathers. I previously owned this dress from an earlier season in a light denim fabric, I have never worn a single piece of clothing on such high rotation. Made in New Zealand, and beautiful quality. You can browse more beautiful pieces online here.




The Madeline nursing bra has beautiful intricate lacework with an elegant balconnet neckline. A simple and comfortable piece of lingerie, perfect for both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Made from a soft stretch lace and cotton lycra. Browse more styles online here.





Nature baby’s relaxed Henley style t-shirts come in both long and short sleeve. Made out of 100% organic cotton jersey, the fabric washes extremely well and is beautifully soft on the skin. The easy shell button opening gives easy nursing access. Browse the styles online here.





The simple white t-shirt is an essential to any wardrobe, during maternity or otherwise. The fabric is important, it needs to be soft and durable. I love this particular piece from Staple and Cloth made out of an incredibly soft lightweight cotton knit. The dropped back hem is a nice detail, it’s slightly oversized, a great fit for my round belly. I opted for a size M as I wanted space to grow. I might also invest in the black and grey color, they will be a great essential for breast feeding. Shop online here.

Sleeping can be a little uncomfortable when you are pregnant. I sleep on the side with a large pillow between my legs each night. This helps me to feel comfortable and supported. I make do with a well loved euro pillow pictured above (beautiful floral pillowcase from Father Rabbit) although there are plenty of body pillows designed specifically for pregnancy.

I am also wishlisting this beautiful silk one piece from maternity label Hatch. I also love this cashmere sleep set - quite possibly the most beautiful pajamas I have laid my eyes on, although perhaps a little out of my price range (we do spend 1/3 of our lives in bed don’t we?!).




Embracing a bed time ritual is something I put more care in to during pregnancy. If I don’t nurture those hours before bed, I often get distracted by my phone or computer. I  often enjoy a long hot soak in the bath with magnesium salts and a few drops of Nature baby belly oil. 

Nature Baby’s belly stretch oil contains a blend of pure botanical extracts and oils that can help optimize the elasticity of the skin. I have used the oil for all three pregnancies, it’s wonderful for preventing stretch marks. There is also a baby massage oil that I am thinking of buying for when baby arrives. Find out a little more here.

I then tuck myself in to bed early, normally before 10pm with a mug of chamomile tea and a romance novel to calm my mind.

I rarely leave home without my stainless steel ECOtanka drink bottle. Its practical, eco friendly and ensures that I am reminded to stay well hydrated. I purchased mine from East West Organics in New Lynn, also available online here.




It’s important to have wholesome snacks on hand for when I am feeling a little hungry, this also helps to keep the nausea at bay. Franjos Kitchen, ginger and apricot pregnancy biscuits are particularly delicious. They are also vegan, egg and refined sugar free. Available at Nature Baby.

A FEW BOOKS AND BLOGS YOU MIGHT ENJOY




‘French Children Don't Throw Food’ is a great read about an American mother’s journey through French Parenting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it while pregnant with Obi, the sleeping technique 'le pause' definitely helped him to sleep soundly in the earlier months. The philosophy around raising children seemed to make sense to me. I love the simple ideas which, when applied patiently and lovingly sets the tone for a respectful relationship between parents and children.

MOTHER is a gorgeous website that has both informative parenting articles as well as style, interviews, recipes and more.

* I have been reading A Cup Of Jo since before I was pregnant with Bella. Joanna’s posts on parenting and motherhood are humorous, personal and helpful.

* One of my most visited blogs is Practising Simplicity. I find Jodi’s sense of motherhood and simplicity inspiring, and her photos are beautiful.

Wellness Mama has a treasure trove of recipes, practical tips, natural beauty and cleaning tutorials, natural remedies and articles on motherhood.

I hope this series has inspired you to pamper your beautiful self. In the next few weeks or so, I will share the next post in the pregnancy series, a handful of simple essentials for baby. 

Please note: this is not a sponsored post, each item is a personal favourite of mine and I like to support the brands I love. 

FROZEN YOGHURT, FRESH MINT AND MILK CHOCOLATE


The happiest of frozen delights. Combine 1 cup thick creamy yoghurt, 1 cup cream, ¼ cup runny honey and a large handful of finely chopped mint. Gently fold in about ½ cup roughly chopped good quality milk chocolate. Tip the mixture in to a loaf tin or dish lined with a little baking paper. Freeze until set. Allow to soften a little before rolling. About 6 serves.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WELCOMING A NEW CHAPTER


I feel as though I have not been honest enough about the struggles of motherhood, particularly whilst attempting to juggle a full time career. When we're honest, we allow ourselves to soften around the edges, to open up, and to see with clear eyes. Welcoming a new child in to our family has helped me to face some big decisions. For the first time In my life, I am settled. I am happy with being a stay at home mama. I will continue to write about my love for food and family. It's something that I enjoy more so with each passing year. With this love comes something of a plea for contentment. And I think I may have found it. Here. In our home. With my beautiful family. Oh, my beautiful children! This is what happens, I think. With life's experiences. They open your heart, allowing the light to pour in, like sweet golden honey. I have no idea what the future will bring. But for now I am content with living a life at home, here in the beautiful bush. Eleanor x

Sunday, January 10, 2016

THE PREGNANCY SERIES / WHOLESOME FOOD FOR YOU AND BABY


I love to be spontaneous and spirited in the kitchen, there is so much fun to be had. The little boy growing in my belly seems to think otherwise, limiting my palate to a handful of rather boring food choices. Over the past few months I have experiencing quite a change in how I eat, even more so than my previous pregnancies.

During this time I have been keeping a small diary. Sribbled lists, random ideas, and drafts of recipes that only I could decipher. I have turned these notes in to a small and thoughtful guide to wholefoods during pregnancy, with the hope that it will inspire you to cook wholesome food for you and your little one. Today 
I share with you the recipes and rituals that have been keeping both baby and I happy.

Note: please know that I am not a naturopath or qualified natural health specialist, simply a mama who has experienced three pregnancies and would like to share a few recipes and ideas.



MORNING SICKNESS AND THE FIRST TRIMESTER

During the first trimester, the smell of food would often leave me feeling quite ill. I would feel inspired of what to make, spending an hour or so in the kitchen cooking, only to find I just couldn’t face a single bite.  A loaf of sourdough in the pantry would often come to the rescue. Toast with butter for dinner was something I devoured more often than I like to admit. The truth is, although my usual well balanced diet during this time seemed to go out the window, I tried not to be too hard on myself. You can’t force yourself to eat something when you just don't feel like anything at all!


For the first three months or so, my diet has consisted of the following. Bananas, banana smoothies (recipe below) different variations of cheese on sourdough toast, boiled eggs, simple cooked vegetables, grain based meals, crispy skinned roast meat, and a little yoghurt every now and then. My advice would be to get in to the habit of drinking plenty of water, find a handful of wholesome food choices that do work for you in the meanwhile and not get too worried about indulging in the odd takeaway or fast food option if thats all you feel like eating. Do try to keep away from anything too loaded with sugar, in particular sugary drinks, as they ultimately make you feel worse. It's only a matter of time until you start to find your appetite return! 




Boiled eggs with poppy seed parmesan soldiers. Recipe in My Family Table.

As soon as I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is drink a large glass of filtered water, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon if we have any in the fruit bowl. I will also often eat a piece of sourdough toast, or some simple crackers to ensure there is something lining my stomach. I find as soon as I allow myself to become too hungry, the nausea always becomes worse. Below you will find my recipe for homemade seed crackers. Top with a nice cheddar cheese and tomato for a delicious snack.




Homemade seed crackers, recipe here.

I find that by eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, this helps to stop the nausea coming on, as well as preventing me from feeling too full. Homemade truffles and fresh fruit are great for nibbling on between meals, I have a few recipes below, although my friends from Snackpack make some delicious flavours that you can order online or buy from a few selected outlets. Check out their website here. 


Something I believe truly helped me this time around with morning sickness was taking magnesium on a daily basis. I have been taking the supplement for about three years now, and always notice a huge different in my moods and the way I feel if we run out for a few weeks. 

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that relieves stress, anxiety, and helps to ensure a restful sleep - take a few hours before your usual sleep time. I like the Solgar brand, available at most health stores.  At least once a week, I enjoy a healing bath using epsom salts - another great way to get a boost of magnesium. A few drops of essential oil helps to calm the mind and prepare for a relaxed sleep.

You can find out a little more about the magnesium for morning sickness in these posts by Wellness Mama, and Mommypotomous.

Morning sickness aside, something I truly struggled with in the first trimester was the fatigue. I didn’t have much time to relax with two littlies running around who needed plenty of time and attention. Now that I am in the second trimester, I still find that a cat nap or short rest is absolutely essential, even if it is for a mere 10 minutes or so. Regardless of how busy I am, I always try to have a little lie down in the afternoons, even if I don’t necessarily fall asleep.


If you suffer from heartburn or indegestion, a great trick is dissolving ½ tsp baking soda in a little water. Garlge for 10-20 seconds, and then swallow. It might sound horrible, but trust me it works! Particularly after a large meal.


DAY TO DAY WHOLEFOODS IN PREGNANCY

Protein is not only said to help morning sickness in pregnancy, it also helps you to feel sustained and fuller for longer. I have been enjoying many different variations of the traditional roast meal. Succulent slow roasted lamb, beef or slow cooked pork with plenty of herbs and vegetables have become a staple meal. You can use any left over bones to make a nourishing broth to keep in the fridge for further meals, find my recipe for homemade broth or stock in My Petite Kitchen Cookbook. Free range eggs and legumes are also an excellent source of protein if you are vegetarian.

Consuming plenty of of good fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development. You can find these in natural sources such as ethical and free farmed meat, butter, ghee, free range eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, good quality dairy, coconut products and nuts. A good tip that I learnt from my naturopath is to eat your veggies with good fats. These help your body to absorb all the vital nutrients fruits and vegetables offer. A personal favourite has been steamed broccoli or cauliflower drizzled in a vibrant olive oil or melted butter, sprinkled with grated cheese and flaky sea salt. Simple yet delicious.




Crispy almond coated chicken with artichokes and lemon, recipe here. Roast lamb with preserved lemon, recipe here.


Green olive chicken with tomatoes and basil, recipe in My Petite Kitchen Cookbook. Apple and sage pork cassoulet, recipe here.


Roast chicken with lemon, rosemary and fennel, recipe here.

Most women seem to crave bread during pregnancy, I certainly did! Try this protein filled alternative for sesame honey bread. The base is made out of ground almonds containing plenty of good fats, a recipe that can be served sweet or savoury. Top with peanut butter and jam, or avocado, sliced tomato, flaky sea salt and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper. I have added flaxseeds to the original recipe for a little extra fibre.





Sesame honey bread, recipe here.

We all know that plenty of vegetables and fruit are essential to a balanced diet. Our digestion tends to slow down and be a little irregular during pregnancy, the natural fibre in fruit and vegetables can help to keep you regular, particularly if you need to take iron supplements. Simple, unadulterated, and comforting vegetable dishes seem to be working for the two of us.





Roasted jacket potatoes with cheese, spinach and chives. Recipe here. 

Home made bone broth made out of beef or chicken will give you and your baby plenty of important minerals. They also contain natural gelatin which can help with digestion and is gentle on the tummy if you a feeling a little nauseous. I could go on and on about the nourishing health benefits of gelatin, if you would like to find out a little more check out this useful link here.

Fermented vegetables, drinks and dairy are also wonderful for you and your growing baby. Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, fermented yoghurt, milk kefir and other traditional fermented foods will help with digestion and ensure your gut has plenty of good bacteria. This is very important, as your baby will get their gut flora directly from you! I could only manage a little natural yoghurt in the first trimester, although I found later on I was able to start adding fermented goodies to my diet. You can also take pro-biotics in oral form if you prefer.

I have been enjoying more grains during this pregnancy, being one of the food staples that I was able to enjoy in the earlier stages. Oats, barley, quinoa and rice are all delicious examples, and are simple to prepare. I like to soak or sprout the grains in water overnight before using to make them more easily digestible, particularly if they contain gluten. I have enjoyed oatmeal for dinner on a few occasions!  Below are a few lovely recipes that are simple to prepare and can be easily adapted depending on what fruit and vegetables you have on hand.




Brown rice bircher, recipe here. Apple pie oatmeal, recipe in My Family Table.




Quinoa Pilaf with peas, mint and parmesan, recipe here. Vanilla bean rice pudding with maple roasted strawberries, recipe here.


In between meals I often snack on home made nut truffles, fresh fruit, wholesome baking or will enjoy a banana smoothie. Here's a few recipes below that you might enjoy.





Four ingredient caramel and dark chocolate cookies, recipe here. Chocolate date truffles, recipe here.




Lemon, coconut and almond truffles, recipe hereBanana vanilla bean thickshake, recipe here. 

I have fallen in to the habit of always having a drink bottle on hand. A woman’s blood volume increases during pregnancy and her body has to supply extra fluid to ensure mama and baby are well hydrated. I often like to make a big jug of iced peppermint or roiboos tea with slices of lemon and chia seeds to sip on through out the day. We enjoy a mug of chamomile tea before bed. This flowering herb can help to sooth and relax the body. There are certain herbal teas that should be avoided during pregnancy, have a read here.


Iced tea with chia and honey. Recipe here. Photo captured by Greta Kenyon. 

I hope this guide has helped you a little, or perhaps inspired you to try out a new recipe or two. Keep a watch out over the next week or so for the next post in the pregnancy series. Eleanor x

Friday, January 8, 2016

JACKET POTATOES WITH PARMESAN AND CHIVES


I stare in to the pantry with an uninspired mind and notice an abandoned looking bag of potatoes sitting on the bottom shelf. It occurs to me that the humble jacket potato could indeed be a dish to use the abundance of spinach growing in the garden, perhaps with fresh chives and a little parmesan. The sort of recipe that lends itself to many possibilities. 

Pre heat the oven to 200 C,  lay 4-5 medium sized roasting potatoes in a dish. Trickle with a little extra virgin olive oil and pierce each with a fork. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove from the oven, and leave until cool enough to handle. Slice off the top, and then scoop out the filling leaving about ½ a cm from the edge of the skin.  Combine the cooked potato in a bowl with ½ cup sour cream, ¾ cup grated parmesan, 2 tbsp butter, a handful of finely chopped chives and 1 cup of roughly chopped blanched spinach. Silverbeet or kale would be fine here also. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then mash well. Pile the filling in to the potato skins, and then return to the oven for another half an hour or so, until golden on top.


Serves 3-4


FOUR INGREDIENT CARAMEL DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES



Combine the following ingredients in a bowl: 1 cup nut butter (I used homemade almond) 1/2 cup coconut or rapadura sugar & 1 egg. Mix until well combined. Fold in 1/2 cup chopped good quality dark chocolate. Using damp hands, roll on to small balls and place 2-3 cm apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Press down gently with a fork. Bake at 180 C for 6-7 minutes. Makes 10 cookies. Enjoy! Eleanor x

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

BANANA VANILLA BEAN THICKSHAKE



Today I create something using the well loved marriage of banana, vanilla and milk. A creamy luscious thickshake, with a consistency comparable to soft serve. Simple, uncontrived and non-showy. Combine the following to a blender... 2 frozen ripe bananas, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2-3 dates, a pinch of sea salt and 1 cup milk of your choice (I used Puhoi Valley half and half, some may believe this to be a little decadent). Blend until smooth. Serves 1. 

SESAME HONEY BREAD



Bound with free-range eggs, this rustic loaf is delicious toasted and topped with the gorgeous combination of avocado, tomato and basil. It keeps really well in the pantry for up to a week. 

2 cups almond meal 
1/3 cup tapioca flour, potato flour, or cornflour 
3 large free-range eggs 
1/4 cup flaxseeds
2 tablespoons honey, or maple or rice malt syrup 
1/3 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut cream, or cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
a pinch of sea salt 
3 tablespoons sesame seeds 

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. 

Combine all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Spoon the batter into the loaf tin, then even it out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over. 

Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. 

Remove from the oven and turn out of the tin. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing. 


The bread will last for up to 1 week in an airtight container. It also freezes really well; for added convenience, cut it into slices before freezing.