Saturday, October 31, 2009

tamari ginger soba noodle salad



I made this recipe up TODAY and l hate to float my own boat- but man it was gooood. Make it for lunch and be sure to make a generous amount so you have leftovers. Soba noodles are a really healthy carb made from buckwheat flour. They contain rutin, which is an antioxidant (similar to flavonoids). Rutin helps to prevent high blood pressure so it reduces risk of heart disease. These noodles also contain high amounts of thiamine and riboflavin.

Ingredients

3 serves worth of soba noodles
1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley washed and chopped
1/2 red capsicum , diced
8 dutch carrots, chopped
6-8 cherry tomatoes, diced
2 handfuls of fresh peas
1 head of broccolini or 1/2 head of broccoli cut into small segments
3 tbs sesame seeds
4 tbs roasted pumpkin seeds

Dressing
2 tbs sesame oil
5 tbs rice wine vinegar
6 tbs tamari
5cm square piece of ginger- grated

Directions

Add the noodles to boiling water
Put sieve over boiling pot of noodles and add the broccoli, peas and carrots until steamed and slightly tender

While these are cooking make your dressing- combining all ingredients together

Remove noodles when al dente, and put under cold running water until cool
Remove steamed veggies and also put under cold water until cool
Put the raw veggies, steamed veggies, seeds and parsley in a bowl and mix together

Get out your serving bowls and place one serve of noodles in each, add the veggies on top of noodles
Finally, dress with the ginger tamari dressing and serve.

Friday, October 30, 2009

i almost forgot to write


I was sitting here pleasantly knitting away with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on in the background, sipping tea, eating too much chocolate and watching youtube tutorials on “switching colours while knitting”, when it occurred to me- I haven’t written today! Since launching September 1st (armed with a collection of 14 entries from August) I have not missed a single blogging day. I certainly cannot miss one just because I am hypnotized by the soothing motion of the needles knitting back and forth. I have to save my sickie for a really important event. I had planned on writing a rant about green bags and my depressing trip to the supermarket last Sunday (in a nutshell, as I lined up at the checkout at Safeway, my heart sunk as I saw family after family loading up with weeks worth of over-packaged supplies shoved into double lined plastic bags), but I’ll save the rant for another day (in the meantime if it’s you I am talking about BRING YOUR GREEN BAGS- pleeeaaasseee! Before I become the crazy girl at the grocery store who stands at the exit shaking my finger, pleading, “Where is your green bag!?!?! What’s your excuse!?!?”).

Big Breath.

So, here’s a photo of my pathetic excuse for an entry tonight. I started it about an hour and a half ago. I’m going with “big chunky scarf” for L’il B next winter, as I think it’s the easiest thing to do for my first ever knitting project. I am using a whole bunch of wool that I bought at ...wait for it... Vinnie’s! Gosh, now that I’ve revealed this tonight, what will I show for next Thursday’s “Creative Space”? Toodeloo!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

trikonasana- triangle pose



Benefits
Triangle Pose stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees, ankles, hips, groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine!
It stimulates and naturally massages the abdominal organs.
Because it gives such a deep stretch in the hips, thighs and groins (places where we hold a lot of subconscious tension), if you breathe through the pose, it is a great stress reliever.
This pose is also especially good for people going through menopause, who have digestion problems, or who have chronic backaches.

Directions
Triangle Pose can be used as a part of your flowing vinyasa sequence or can be performed on its own with a few other poses as a pick-me up during a mini practice throughout the day.
Step your feet a legs length apart, with one foot facing forward and one foot on a 45˚ angle and your hips and torso facing forward.
Inhale your arms up stretching them out and across you body and then exhale reach forward with your front arm keeping your core firm. Lower your body a little further down (bending with your hip joint, not your torso) while reaching your hand to your shin, and stay where you feel comfortable being careful not to rest your weight into your hand and shin. Stretch the other arm up to the sky and look up past your fingertips sending your energy upwards while continuing to spiral your upper body as well. If you have neck problems just look down being careful not to strain your neck.

Hold for as long as you can and then come out the opposite way from how you came into it. Switch sides.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

newspaper seedling pots

This spring if you’re going to plant some of your very own seeds, why not keep the green thing going and plant them in biodegradable newspaper pots. When the seedlings are ready to be planted, you can actually put the whole pot straight into the ground- no fuss. Best of all there’s none of the plastic waste that is usually associated with seedling containers. You can make your own via. the below youtube tutorial, or you can buy a fancy wooden pot maker from citychicks.com.au.

Monday, October 26, 2009

the joy of crayons



Crayons are a great way to introduce your baby/toddler to art. They’re clean, easy to use and not very time-consuming (as young bubs seem to have an attention span of 5-10 minutes). Crayon drawings can also be a great way to jazz up some homemade wrapping paper or a card, or you can frame them to liven up the house.

L’il B started drawing with crayons when he turned one. He concentrates for about 5-15 minutes and then he’s over it and on to the next thing. I tape a piece of paper to his high chair tray, and give him two colours at a time so that he is not overwhelmed with choices. I showed him how to make a mark once, and now I just let him create. L’il B loves the cause and effect factor in drawing: he puts the crayons against the paper they leave a mark. I imagine he enjoys this because in his mind the action emphasizes his independence and singularity.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

om


I am the taste of pure water and the light of sun and moon. I am Om, the sacred word, the sound in silence, and the courage of human beings. I am the sweet fragrance in the earth and the radiance in fire; I am the life in all living beings and the striving of those who train their souls.


Bhagavad Gita (VII: 8-9)
Aum or Om is literally translated from sanskrit to mean, "to sound out loudly" . It is a sacred syllable that is often chanted before or after other prayers or mantras. This one syllable contains three phonemes: a, u and m, which according to Indian texts, symbolizes the three stages in life: birth, life and death. According to Hinduism (and other Indian religions) all material life has become manifest through primordial vibration. Om represents this primordial vibration in all of us and everything. Om is all the name or sound attributed to God. It represents God's singularity, although he/she has many forms, he like us, is ONE.
Chanting Om “encourages the descent of universality in to the human heart.” to learn more about Om click on this link to find out its history and place in a number of different world religions and philosophies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

encouraging creativity through a beautiful playspace




We are constantly being bombarded with STUFF and so are our children. Children are especially targeted while they’re young- needing the latest gadget, bob the builder truck, talking doll or any other piece of plastic with built in music/sound effects/flashing lights and movement. They become overwhelmed with the number of “toy choices” they have to make at any given moment and are not able to explore one toy for all it’s worth in their imagination.

As of late, I have been slowly giving away (or putting away) most of the ‘flashy’ toys we have been given or have bought as naive parents thinking we needed the latest thing. I am beginning to switch over to simpler, classic and more natural toys that L’il B is able to use in a number of different ways, growing with them instead of quickly growing out of them.

Amanda Soule (the Mother Goddess of parenting/crafting blogs)’s book, The Creative Family, encourages us to ask the following questions about our children’s toys:

Is it Beautiful?
Do the toys and the environment they are placed in evoke a sense of peace, calm, beauty and inspiration in your child? Is the toy handcrafted and therefore made with love and will your child see the beauty of someone’s hard work and experience?

Is it Simple?
Does the toy help to stir a child’s imagination or does it inhibit it?
If it’s a toy that does everything for you, then it’s probably not the best for your child. Select toys that require a child to use their creativity and imagination to play with- cloth dolls, wooden blocks, different fabrics, blankets, baskets, strings and pegs.

What is it made of?
Although you can never completely eliminate plastic from your playspace, try to focus on more natural materials such as wood, cloth and natural fibers. These toys feel good to play with and connect your child to the environment from which they came.

What senses does it use?
Taste- felt or wooden food
Hear- Shakers, Drums, Pots and Pans
Touch- Different fabrics, woods, touchy feely books
See- Is it visually appealing- multi-coloured, natural colours, natural dyes
Smell- Can you collect flowers and put them in a vase near their playspace for them to enjoy? Or make a game out of prepping dinner and smelling the different foods going in the pot

How is it organized?
Just like adults, children are able to be more creative and spontaneous when things are easy to find, clean and accessible.

Is there too much?
Amanda Soule emphasizes that “less is more” when it comes to toys. Don’t feed your child the habit that you are trying to kick: the tendency to over-consume. When there are too many things around children can become overwhelmed and indecisive about what they want to play with. Tell family members not to buy plastic toys that will fall apart easily and suggest natural alternatives.

At least half of the toys and playthings seen below were bought second-hand.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

homemade veggie burgers


I know this recipe looks intimidating with the thought of having to cook two grains, but the grains don’t need to be cooked until soft they are only cooked for 5 minutes on the stovetop while you prep the rest of the stuff. These are delicious, crunchy, bursting with nutty flavours, and a great way to get out of the rice/wheat carbohydrate addiction we Westerners have. There are so many other whole grains out there that are delicious and nourish your body.

Ingredients
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup hulled millet
2 tbs each sunflower seeds and raw almonds, chopped
1/2 zucchinni, chopped
3 small carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbs chopped parsley
1 can chick peas
pinch of paprika
pinch of salt
3 tbs spelt flour
1 tsp corn flour
pinch of garam masala (or any other mixed herb/spice you like)
2 tbs tamari
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
breadcrumbs (optional depending on consistency of burgers)


Directions

Cook 1/2 cup of millet with 3/4 cup of water for 5 minutes on stovetop
Cook 1/2 cup of barley with 3/4 cup of water for 5 minutes on stovetop
While the grains are cooking, chop the nuts and seeds and then place in a food processor to grind
Put the nuts and seeds in a large mixing bowl with the millet and barley and cover
Put all the vegetables into the food processor (adding chickpeas last after everything else is finely diced)
Add herbs/spices/sauces/sesame seeds and flours to the veggies and process one last time
Add the vegetable mix to the mixing bowl with the grains, nuts and seeds and mix
If this mixture is a good patty consistency start rolling it into balls
If it is too loose or wet, add breadcrumbs to get the right consistency

Slightly flatten the balls (not too much- you want a rounder patty not a thin flat one because if it’s too thin it will fall apart)

Fry them in oil on a saucepan until golden and crisp on the outside

Serve with or without a bun and with any condiment you choose. I love chunky tomato chutneys on them.

Wrap left-overs in waxed paper (BEFORE COOKING) and put into tupperware containers to freeze

Monday, October 19, 2009

to love. to be loved

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget."
Arundhati Roy

This quote stirs my soul. Arundhati Roy is the award-winning author of ‘The God of Small Things’, as well as an articulately fierce activist for social and economic justice.
Now this may be a bit of a rant but I had to get it off my chest and what better place than my very own blog?
B and I watched Black Hawk Down on Friday (for those of you that don’t know this movie it depicts the Battle of Mogadishu: the United State’s Armed Force’s attempt to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and the intense and gruesome fighting that resulted between U.S. forces and local militia and citizens throughout the day of the mission). I am not really one for war movies, mainly because I get very sensitive about seeing people die like hunted animals. What irks me most about such images is that these are daily realities in war, and war pumps and pulsates and thrives every single day throughout the world (according to this site there are 38 wars going on worldwide today). Watching the movie, I couldn’t plug my ears, close my eyes and comfort myself with the thought that this was all pretend, because all I could really think was, ‘someone out there is dying with a very similar fate right now, at this moment’. And for what? Am I contributing to these deaths? No one deserves to die that cruelly and alone, regardless of race, country, religion, class, age or beliefs.
“To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you.”
When I started University, I hit a real low point for a year or so. I was taking International Development Studies and reading about AIDS in Africa, the complete conquest, murder, rape and wipe out of the Indigenous populations in the Americas and the horrific plundering that white man did throughout the rest of the world. I know you’re thinking, didn’t you know about these things before University? Well, kind of, but I was in my own little high school world, worried about boyfriends and clothing and dances. By second year Uni, I was calling my Mum sobbing hysterically with the shame that I felt as a white upper class snob who had been given everything as a result of her ancestor’s total sum of evils. She tried to calm me by saying things like, “One day these things won’t matter as much to you Meagan, you’ll have other things to worry about in life, you won’t be able to spend all of your energy worrying about all of the injustice in the world”. This of course made me even more upset. How could ANYONE block out these truths? Why wasn’t everyone else repulsed, why didn’t everyone else feel this sense of eternal debt to the rest of the world that I did? Why didn’t anyone else see that we were the “haves” BECAUSE the others “have not”?
When I sat down to watch Black Hawk Down on Friday night, I was feeling all cushy and warm inside. I was safe, I had a full tummy, I had alcohol to soothe me after a long day, I had an extra large bed to fall into that night with the option of heat if I got cold and a big glass of clean water before I went to bed. But what I feel most guilty about is the ingrained sense of deservedness I subconsciously felt. As though these things were owed to me, and that I had, in fact, sacrificed a lot of other luxuries that others had not. How dare I? I hate myself when I forget, when I take for granted how lucky I am and how unfair this crazy world is.
I went to sleep praying and praying and praying to a God I don’t even know the name of and asking for forgiveness and strength and above all, giving thanks for the inexplicably PERFECT life I have been randomly blessed with. I vow to use my good fortune in the pursuit of others happiness. To love. To be loved because I will give love in truth, compassion, respect and understanding. I vow to look everyone in the eye and hope for them exactly what I hope for myself: Lokah Samasthah Sukhino Bhavantu.

Friday, October 16, 2009

ecostore giveaway

I was recently contacted by the good folk at ecostore, who graciously offered to send a gift pack of their baby care line (Shampoo, Sleepytime Bath, Baby Soap, Moisturiser and Massage Oil)
for a couple of my readers to try! Admittedly, I have only used the Baby Soap and baby Massage Oil, I have noticed that they are very gentle on L’il B’s skin and their smell is subtle and fresh. The products are safe for your baby’s health while also being safer for the environment because they are free from toxic petrochemicals, propylene glycol, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphates (SLS), synthetic dyes or perfumes, mineral oils or parrafins. What a mouthful! (and a serious worry that those are the ingredients in regular baby skincare lines.)
Malcolm Rands, the founder and leader of the kiwi based ecostore, says, “One of the main reasons ecostore’s baby products are so gentle is that they contain ingredients which match the natural oils and amino acids found in the skin”.

ecostore is an eco-friendly company who’s company vision is to simply “restore the health and wellbeing of the planet by making it easier for people to be green.” I also use their liquid hand soap, and recently picked up some laundry detergent and love both products. There’s nothing more satisfying than choosing green cleaning products that are effective and affordable.
The most exciting part in my opinion? You can buy ecostore products at most Woolworth’s nationwide!! There’s nothing more exciting than being able to make healthy choices for your family at the most convenient and well-priced place a mother goes to: the supermarket.

I have one gift pack to give away with a variety of the baby products in each. Simply write a comment below by Friday of next week (the 23rd) and I will enter you into the draw. The catch? ecoMILF was only launched September 1st, so it is still a baby site. Please mention this giveaway with a link on your blog so that as many readers as possible get the opportunity to win. If you don’t have a blog or site, simply CC me in on an email to a friend telling them about ecoMILF and the giveaway.

Good Luck!

**WINNER IS: MADELINE OF BARN-RAISING. CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ENTERNG!**

Saturday, October 10, 2009

urban potted garden update I


The garden is growing splendidly, except when a certain someone gets their grubby hands into it. I have had to move the strawberries to a high up place in a separate pot because L’il B felt an irresistible urge to pick the strawberry flowers every chance he could. The zucchini needs to be put into in a bigger pot (AGAIN!). I haven’t figured that one out yet, but I need to... fast. The tomatoes are going great, you can see the little yellow flowers beginning to bud. And the lettuce... well, let’s just say we’re going to have a nice big salad tomorrow. I had to replant it into a makeshift pot: a section of my worm farm that we aren’t using. I put some plastic with holes in it underneath because the black plastic container is filled with gaps and spaces. Now for my questions. I have a whole bunch for all your garden savvy experts out there:

  1. If we pick a few leaves off of each lettuce head, will they grow back continually over the summer?
  2. Should I put each zucchini plant into it’s own separate long pot?How deep does it have to be? Am I looking for square, rectangular and how deep?
  3. Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly does it mean if my tomato plant is flowering? Is it a good sign? When will the fruit come? Will it replace the flowers?
  4. I am interested in harvesting a few potatoes after watching a tv show on SBS this week (sorry I can’t remember what it was called something “River Cottage”). He made it seem like if I got a big wooden crate and planted a few sprouted potatoes, in 6-8 weeks time I would have 10-15 potatoes. Is this true? Do they need a special kind of soil? Are they supposed to be in the light or should they be covered? How long does it take from planting them to harvesting them?
  5. In regards to fertilizers. My mother-in-law brought some “blood and bone” over, which being the vegetarian I am, I cannot bring myself to use. I understand that in nature, animals die naturally or bigger animals eat them and then leave parts of their bodies to go back into the ground, so on that level blood and bone is just a natural part of the food chain. But slaughtered factory farm dried up animal guts in the form of a gardening product called “Blood and Bone” I just cannot deal with. So, I’ve been using this seaweed based fertilizer. Is that good enough? Please say yes or give me some other veggie options.
  6. Finally, I am enjoying this gardening so much (I love watching them grow everyday, and observing how life-giving water and sunlight are), I am interested in planting a few other things. What other veggies might work in pots for the spring?

Hope you all have a few suggestions to head my way. Happy Saturday!



Friday, October 9, 2009

3 easy, healthy vegetarian toddler meals

Bite-Sized Quiches
(this makes 12 mini quiches. They freeze wonderfully)

Ingredients
12 store-bought mini pastry casings OR bread cut into circles to line the bottom of your muffin tin
1/4 leek, finely chopped
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/4 red capsicum, diced
grated cheese and chopped feta (large handful of each)
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
3/4 cup organic milk

Directions
Preheat Oven to 180˚
Grease a muffin tin and place pastry or cut our bread into each muffin socket

Drizzle olive oil in a pan and sweat the leeks until soft
Add the zucchini and capsicum until tender and remove from heat

Beat the eggs with milk, then add the cheese and softened veggies to the mix
Pour mixture into the casings and make in the oven for 10-15 minutes



Green Machine Mac n’ Cheese
(makes about 2 baby toddler serves)
Ingredients
handful of frozen peas
lg handful of finely chopped baby spinach
1/4 of a grated zucchini
1/2 cup cooked macaroni noodles (I like iron-fortified spelt pasta by Bellamy’s)
1 tsp organic Butter
couple pinches of corn flour
1/4 cup organic milk
grated organic cheese

Directions
Drizzle olive oil in a pan and add the veggies until slightly soft
Remove from heat

Melt butter in a new pan and add milk and a pinch of corn flour, stirring continuously, add another pinch of cornflour until mixture becomes thick, smooth and creamy
Add the grated cheese
Add the veggies to this sauce

Mix sauce in with noodles and serve


Chunky Lentil Stew
(makes 4-6 baby toddler serves- use similar ingredients to make your own adult version of this stew adding some salt and red wine to the mix)
Ingredients
1 tsp organic butter
1/2 leek, finely chopped
1/2 crushed garlic clove
1/2 lg parsnip
1/2 carrot
1/2 sweet potato
1.2 can brown lentils
1 bay leaf
1 1/2- 2 cups vegetable stock (low-salt)
1/2 zucchini
chopped fresh parsley

Directions
Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan together and fry the leeks and garlic until soft
Add the parsnips, carrots and sweet potato until golden
Add the lentils, bay leaf, vegetable stock and a pinch of rosemary and cover to simmer for 35 minutes
After 35 minutes add the zucchini and leave for another 20
Add the parsley, let cool and serve