Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Inspired by Beautifully Glossy, I wanted to share with you some things I am grateful for this week that I'm forcing myself to recognise among the swollen sore glands, sniffly nose and complete confusion that is my current life.

I am grateful for.....
- Pizza nights with old work friends 
- M always offering to hang out the washing
- The beautifully sunny day that Melbourne has been blessed with this Thursday
- The heater being on timer for the chilly mornings
- The 2 whole snapper my Nonna sent to me that I'll be eating for dinner tonight
- Rice flour and pure maple syrup
- Benefit Benetint and Garnier under eye concealer making me look alive every day
- My gorgeous kittens who make me smile around the clock
- Eat, Pray, Love and Lost in Translation for being inspiring this week
- Books on meditation and mindfulness for slowly but surely changing my life

What are you grateful for this Thursday?
& no, you can't say 'That it's Friday tomorrow!'.

Stay well,
Nat x

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

10 Ways to Increase Vegetable Intake

Getting a lot of vegetables into your diet is good for about 237,483 reasons (please don't make me state every one), and one of them is that it actually reduces your risk of something 14,000 Australia's are diagnosed with every single year; Bowel Cancer.  Get in on Bowel Cancer Awareness Week by checking out the official page here.  

10 Super Easy Ways to Increase Vegetable Intake

1 - Finely diced capsicum, zucchini, carrot, eggplant or spinach will take on the flavour of whatever's around them and work amazingly in a good pasta sauce.  Grate them or puree the sauce if children are involved.

2 - Stop counting bits of iceberg lettuce as a salad.  Use spinach or rocket instead of lettuce, and experiment with julienne fresh beetroot, cubes of roasted pumpkin or sweet potato and shredded red cabbage instead of or alongside your regular tomato ritual.

3 - Try parsnip and carrot mash, or sweet potato and chilli mash, or cauliflower mash instead of potatoes.  If you love your potatoes, wash them properly, bake them whole and eat the skin.

4 - Carrot sticks bore you?  Try celery or capsicum.  Still boring?  Try broccoli and cauliflower stalks.  

5 - With a base of onion and garlic sauteed in a little olive oil, pretty much any vegetable will taste good in a soup.  For a Moroccan twist, add red lentils, a can of tomatoes, cayenne pepper, cumin and squeeze some lemon juice just before serving.  

6 - When you roast vegies, roast way too many.  Left overs are great in fritatta's the next night, tossed through pasta with a little garlic, olive oil and some herbs (parsley, basil, oregano..) or squished between the meat and cheese in your sandwich.  I love left over roast vegetables for M's work lunches on cous cous or rice with a can of tuna.  

7 - Get 2 onions and caramelise them in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Get a big green cabbage and half a red one, shred them and cook them with the onions until they are soft and clear (add water to the mixture if it gets dry).  Add a grated apple and some salt and pepper.  Yummy side dish for a week.

8 - Grill your vegetables!  Heaps of vegetables taste amazing grilled, especially when served on a bed of garlic mash and drizzled with a balsamic reduction (put balsamic vinegar in a pot and cook until it becomes syrupy).

9 - Make a dressing for your vegetables.  In salads, Greek yoghurt mixed with seeded mustard, salt, pepper and a little water tastes amazing and is super healthy.  Don't be scared to make a white sauce with olive oil, wholemeal flour and rice or almond milk for kids, too.  It still works!  I promise.  No butter required.

10 - Make pizza!  Mushrooms, capsicum, onion, eggplant and zucchini make a great vegie pizza, and if you home make the pizza tomato sauce you can get even more in!  Or try roast pumpkin, spinach and feta.  Or put some corn, roast sweet potatoes, shredded chicken and a Mexican salsa.  The possibilities are endless and seriously, pizza is good as long as the tomato & the cheese is there.

Please eat your vegies!

Stay well,
Nat x

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things I Am Good At

This is inspired by a mix of the below picture found on somebody's tumblr, all the readings I have been doing on meditation & mindfulness, my current life circumstances, all the thinking that is resulting from that.  Well, I guess that's why I felt the urge to do this.

I think everyone could have a list like the below.  I wanted to write mine down so I could actually refer back to it.  I am always subconsciously working on changing some of them.

Things I Am Good At

- Being indecisive
- Always being annoyingly on time
- Planning for things that can't or won't happen
- Being consumed with the future or the past
- Wondering what the grass on the other side is like
- Wishing
- Worrying, worrying, worrying
- Getting frustrated at myself
- Cooking
- Wanting objects 
- Being insanely disciplined at any cost
- Making lists

(beautiful artwork from this amazing illustrator)

So much thinking is happening in my brain at the moment, but I like it and have no desire to silence it.  Remember computers in the early 90's?  When they had to process something they'd make that strange, almost grinding noise from their hard drive?  My brain is totally doing that.  It's also producing some crazy-ass dreams.  

What would be included on your list?

Stay well,
Nat x

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Food from the Week..

Pretty average edition as I forgot to take photos of most things I made - including the cheesecake I whipped up for my little brother's birthday, which is the one on the cover of Masterchef Australia Magazine at the moment.  If you like a cheesecake that isn't too sweet but is a whole heap of creamy, and you're sick of lemony-tanged cheesecakes, try it!  I was a fan & it was a hit with the fam.

I found this in a supermarket I visited last week and I've been sprinkling it on my morning oats with my LSA.  It's just like a coconut meal - nothing added.  Yummo.

The bomb site of a kitchen after the cheesecake.

Fridge after a re-stock.  I love my apples & pears, but sadly have not had a chance to get to any of my local organic places lately.... be gone, virus.

This was the cauliflower soup recipe I found on the back of my Coles brand frozen cauliflower.  It was 500gr frozen cauli, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic, 2 cups of vegetable stock, salt, pepper, 2 tbls of cream and 1/4 of a cup of parmesan cheese.  I used rice milk instead of cream and topped it with some thyme but otherwise followed the recipe - it was tasty!  I was pleasantly surpised.  Blended into a super smooth soup, this may be a way to get kids to eat cauliflower without the cheese sauce.

A simple mid-week dinner of boiled veg, ricotta, smoked salmon, a few capers & some pepper.

Can you say, "BEST SNACK EVER"?

Sometimes a boy just needs his bacon & eggs.

Personally, right now, I am craving a big fat crumpet with a high butter to honey ratio, but an afternoon snack of pear & nuts, and a dinner of leftover cauliflower soup & something protein-y (not sure what yet) is on the cards.

Eat any yummy food I should track down this week?

Stay well,
Nat x

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Inspiring Juice Photos from Urban Remedy

I'm still a skeptic when it comes to detoxing and juice cleansing and am yet to see any evidence strong enough to urge me to do it.  I did purchase an Urban Remedy juice cleanse probably 2 years ago now, but it sat in my parents' freezer for 2 years & .. well it might still be there...  It just never seems like a good time to live on juice for 3 days.  

Nevertheless, I don't like to diss things I haven't tried and I do love hearing other people's experiences with it.  And, for what it's worth, Urban Remedy do seem to have a gorgeous product, displayed beautifully in these photos from their Facebook page;

Beautiful photos.... If the above doesn't make you want to eat cleanly, I don't think anything will.

As for me trying a juice detox?  Maybe one day, we'll see.

You can check out Urban Remedy's website here... but I really just wanted to share the pretty fresh food love with you all.  Let that inspire you to eat beautifully this weekend!

Stay well,
Nat x

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fears & Dreams.


I had a big post written about the the above image, but decided to delete it.  Let's just say I am taking a break and I will very much miss working with the great woman I just left.

(Buy this artwork on Etsy)

I've been unwell for a while, so I had to defer my studies.  I'm more passionate about nutrition and food than ever and I will always read about it, write about it, talk about it and love it, but I don't think it's what I want to do for my daily dollar.  I actually miss the responsibility I had & the corporate environment of my previous job, so much so I am considering studying business.

Once again, illness changes my life path.

I love so many things, I could very happily study communications, journalism, business, nutrition, teaching, human resources or marketing.. or something else, and be completely happy - if I didn't feel like I was ignoring some other passion.  I have found a general business degree that I will look into in a few months after a break.

I don't know what's next.  I have a completely clean slate and it is both exciting and terrifying.

I was watching Ready Steady Cook the other day (can you tell I've been sick?), and a 25 year old contestant was talking about how she's had 65 jobs in her life so far as she gets bored easy.  She was so comfortable with the fact that that's just how she is.  I don't want 65 jobs over 10 years or anything, but I wish I was not embarrassed to say that, at 25, I do not know exactly what I want yet.  Is everyone else just pretending they do?

Do you know exactly what you want in life?  If yes, how long did it take you?  How did you discover it?

What do you do for your daily dollar?  Do you love it?

I have some recovering to do, but also a lot of thinking...

Stay well,
Nat x

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scientific Evidence of Supplements

I love that friends know I am interested in what I am interested in (health, food, nutrition, fashion.. in fact, all things in life with the exception of mathematics & philosophy), and bother sending me things they see.

Anyway, this was sent by my gorgeous friend B who I met online ages ago (I may have been, 18 or 19?).  It claims to chart vitamin dietary supplements according to their effectiveness;

What do you think of this?  I think it ignores the fact that many supplements aid prevention rather than 'fix' things that are already broken.  You all know I think prevention is more important.  Nonetheless, it is interesting.

Personally, right now, I am taking vitamin C, vitamin E and a probiotic.  The probiotic was recommended but the C and E I have read far too many positive things (all revolving around prevention).  I wish I knew the be all end all cure for sinusitis.. apparently this taking months to disappear is normal.

What vitamins do you take?
& why?

Stay well,
Nat x

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Food from the Week

I've been a bit quiet - I kicked sinusitis, went back to work, and caught a massive head cold.  Rest, vitamins, layering, scarves and therapeutic baking are my best friends right now.

Here is some food I've made (& eaten) over the past week or two...

Last night's dinner; Salmon with garlic prawns, greens and sweet potato mash.
If you live in Melbourne, especially over the west side, might I recommend Conway's in Footscray for fresh seafood.  Impressive compared to the other options out my way.

A lunch for M & I one day after eating too much of something out of a packet before hand.
I ain't scared of no fruit!

Baked by me; Vanilla Cream Kisses..
Though they really were just melting moments with a different name.

We are adorable, non?

Big tuna salad for lunch one day, with ripped up provolone and anchovies.  Yummmm.

M says he won't be ale to see over the coffee table books soon.  I like stuff being around.  There is another pile next to it.
Don't mind the dust.

Light dinner of steam veg and an egg.
I love salt, pepper and olive oil on my veg.

Good packet food - I eat out of this every day.
Best value berries in the supermarket (1kg for $8.99).
On oats in the morning, in smoothies, as an after dinner dessert...

Stir fry.  
Cabbage is stir fry is bomb-diggity, to me.

This doesn't look appetising, but it was a tasty lunch of left over noodle omelette (vermicelli, tuna, tomato paste, oregano, spinach, eggs, salt, pepper, tuna), capsicum and left over roast veg.

An orange cake.

Cauliflower & sweet potato curry.
Yes, with white bread.  Sometimes I like it.

It is a worry that this is not everything I cooked in the past fortnight, I just didn't photograph all of it.  Cooking is so relaxing when you're sick.  It's comforting.

I feel like getting moving/walking/exercising in some gentle way is going to help me get rid of this head cold.  Does anyone with fitness knowledge have advice on exercising with a cold?  It's so severe I felt like fainting at work on Friday & had to shoot off.  I think I pushed myself too hard, too soon after the sinusitis.

I really wish I was at the Noosa Food & Wine Festival this weekend.  I am aiming to go next year.  I would do almost anything to be in warm weather right now.  

Stay well,
Nat x

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quarter Life Crisis

Just a quickie before I get ready for my day - I am glad to report I am back at work and on the road to recovery! 

This started with my Facebook status earlier this week...

"Not to be dramatic, but can you have a quarter life crisis? I am SO confused. And I totally want to be blonde."

I didn't expect anything from it, just venting as I am super confused about life right now (sinusitis sure gives you time to think, and apparently, time to want to change your hair colour), but then a good friend recommended a book...

Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties 

Then I got Googling, a quickly learnt there is a Wikipedia page for 'Quarter Life Crisis';

"The quarterlife crisis is a period of life following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the late teens to the early thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult."

OK, so, other people have obviously thought this way.

A 2010 Age article (which is where I got the above image, which is a bit depressing and annoying), talks about a Quarter Life Crisis, as described by the above book, as something triggered by "Instability, change and helplessness".... I don't really know if I have any of these elements.  I am stable in most ways, the only change I've had is from full time work to part time work/part time uni, and I don't really feel helpless, just confused.

Plan of action?  Not worry too much and continuously bounce ideas off my great friends.  &, in a few weeks when I've finished my current books, read the above.

I also have chosen to turn this feeling into one of excitement for new discoveries.  

I'll finish with this quiz published by the Huffington Post in 2009, in case you are wondering if you too are having a Qaurter Life Crisis.. though I am not sure how I feel about these questions yet as I answered no to the majority of them. For entertainment value, here we go;

Am I having a Quarter Life Crisis?

1. Are you in a "funk" where you feel like nothing is terribly wrong, but nothing seems right either?
2. Do you feel older for the first time in your life?
3. Are you unmotivated, directionless or passionless?
4. Are you concerned that you don't know what you want to do with your life?
5. Do you feel pressure to grow up and get your adult life in order? 
6. Do you feel entitled to a life much grander than the one you are living?
7. Do you often feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, lost, and maybe even a little hopeless?
8. Do you feel a lot of pressure and expectations to do, have or be something?
9. Do you ever feel that time is running out in regards to figuring out your career and deciding whether you want to get married and/or have children?
10. Are you stressed out by choices that seemingly will affect the rest of your life?
11. Are you experiencing confusion or disappointment in your career?
12. Do you feel that you have failed because you don't know what you want to do with your life?
13. Do you know what you want to do, but can't seem to make it work?
14. Is it difficult for you to make decisions and when you do, you question them?
15. Do you overanalyze yourself?
16. Do you ever feel guilty for complaining about your life or feel like you are disappointing people (especially your parents)?
17. Are you embarrassed that you have not figured out more?
18. Is a breakup, romantic relationship, or lack of one causing you stress and/or sadness?
19. Are you still living at home with mom and dad?
20. Do you frequently compare yourself to other people your age and feel like you don't measure up?
21. Do you feel financially unstable?
22. Could your self-esteem use an upgrade?
23. Are you thinking about going back to grad school because you don't know what else to do with your life?
24. Are you constantly thinking about the future resulting in anxiety and possibly panic?
25. Is your life just not at all turning out like you planned?

I'll finish by saying that if you feel any, some or all of the above, please never feel ashamed to see a psychologist or give Lifeline a call.  I think that talking things through is a seriously underused treatment.

Stay well,
Nat x

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Today is CFS/ME Awareness day. I was once very, very affected by CFS/ME, and you might say I am still in a way as I am still reestablishing life and figuring out what I want and what my limits are.  Ever since recovering I've burnt myself over and over trying to make the most of life.  I'll figure it out - I could have worse problems!

A poster I made for a CFS/ME Awareness day while I was ill.

Me one NYE when I was ill.  I could only go outside if it was dark - this is my back yard.  I was extremely sick from the effort it took to get there.  I really thought, at the time, that I looked healthy and happy in these photos.  I look so sick.

I spent, all, of my time on my bed.  I couldn't get off it.  My blinds were always closed because of my treatment (and had black plastic on them to make it completely dark), and the bulb in that lamp was only 20 watt and even then I had to wear sunglasses (I just took them off for photos).  Look at my bedside table - my whole life was on it.
It sends me shivers to think about it.  It seems like another person's life.
I actually don't remember most of it, I just know it happened.

This was my 21st birthday and this is M.  I was so, so sick.  I couldn't even sit at the table to eat a meal and M is holding me like that as it was hard to stand up for a photo.  I was so determined to dress up and look nice for my 21st - I never got a party as I couldn't handle having guests.  Some days there is no way I could have done this.  M carried me down my parent's stairs for photos.

This is as I started to recover.  My favourite thing ever was to go to the lake and feed the ducks (I still love it!), but I could only go at night.
I love that dress.

This is me a couple of months ago before my friend's wedding on web cam, blowing you a kiss and wishing you good health forever.

I really was thinking about how happy I was to be healthy when I took this shot.  I missed my best friend's wedding in 2008 because I was sick and hated it, so I was so grateful I could make it to this bestie's wedding.

So as you go about your Saturday, running around trying to get things done, holding your hung over head, complaining about the weather, making plans for tonight and whining that you've had sinusitis for so long (oh....), spare a thought for all of those people stuck at home with CFS/ME, or any chronic illness, who don't have the choice and would give their left arm to be able to experience the weather you're complaining about and be able to have a drink without it landing them in hospital.

I always think of my beautiful friend Lynn, who I knew as Jessie, on this day.
Actually, I think of her every day.  Especially when I am struggling with life.  She was amazing, despite her illness, she was a pillar of strength for her friends.  

I'll never forget where I came from.

Stay well and grateful and for goodness sake, smile!  It's not that bad.
Nat x

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Book I'm Loving

As you all know, I've been unwell (getting there!  Apparently it's common for sinusitis to last quite a while), and as a result have been doing lots of reading.  My latest read has been the below;

The New Optimum Nutrition Bible

Patrick Holford

This book was a gift from my brother & his partner (who apparently chose it, clever lady), that I got some time last year and didn't get a chance to get into until this past few weeks.  I've super enjoyed it.  

Why did I like it?

Simple!  It lays down a lot of information about nutrition, vitamins and minerals, both through food and supplements, without reading like a text book.  Although it endorses a vegetarian diet, he is never preachy and gives advice if you just don't want to be vegetarian.  Although he recommends supplements (more than anything I've ever read, actually), he never says x brand - he teaches you what to look for according to your needs and how to read supplement labels.  Mixed in with hundreds of facts from various studies, it's just plain good.  He made me realise holes in my own diet and areas where I've tapered off and as a result, I have changed the way I eat a little.  I have also, for the first time in my life, started taking some supplements.  It really makes you realise how true 'you are what you eat' is.  

What didn't I like?

It was very, very in support of supplements to the point where it fails to mention that many supplements interact with existing medication or may effect some people negatively for various reasons.  That being said, I have a few chapters left, but I think they will only include toxicity levels of vitamins and minerals.  

Who do I recommend it for?

Although it doesn't read like a text book, you won't enjoy it if you don't have an interest in health or nutrition already (and on that, you probably won't enjoy my blog!).  He does recommend a lot of supplements, so I'd recommend strong people who can take it with a grain of salt and not freak out that they're missing out on x and y read it.  I wouldn't give it to somebody who's known for following diets from books or anything.  He offers you a way, through asking you questions and scoring your answers, to form your own supplement program, but I would still recommend seeing a qualified nutritionist or dietitian over starting popping pills based on a book and the opinion of one man.  Even if he seems great, he is one man writing a book for everyone.  A professional knows how to tailor a diet and program to you.

Has anyone else read this book?

Stay well,
Nat x

Monday, May 7, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Plan

...for my little blog!

I couldn't sleep last night because of a certain medication that is meant to help sinusitis (ugh) and made two decisions;
Revive my old blog (fashion, beauty, lifestyle that isn't food - see Lemon Butter Blog)
Change the format of this one.

Why would you change the format!  I love this blog!  I can't live without it!

I know I know, it's OK, all I'm going to do is...
Shorten the posts!  Concise, quick information that you can read in a minute or two is where it's at.  No body has time for long blog posts, especially when there are 50 blog you want to read and only 1 bottle of wine to drink (is that just me?).  

Simple is best.
image cred

Healthy living is meant to be simple, so I am going to try and simplify it for you.  Info on nutrients, opinions on what's in health news, quick tips, recipes etc - in a shorter format.  More posts, less content each.

Whattya reckon'? 

What ya recks of my spellin?

Da ya lyk it?

I DoN'T!

Stay tuned & stay well,
Nat x

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cold Help & Happy May!

Just a quick post to say hi & happy 5th month of the year.  Time flies, ey?  Scroll to the bottom for some cold/flu/sinusitis relief tricks I've learnt over the past month.

I still have extreme sinusitis and am having no fun, so don't have much enthusiasm where cooking and writing is concerned.  I made the boy a cheesy pasta bake last night including butter, white pasta and, obviously, loads of cheese.  See?  I am sick!  It was easy & I have 0 energy.  

I don't have a photo of the sloppy cheese bake I made (I know you were so hoping I did), but I am reading the Wholesome Cook blog this morning and drooling over these chocolate crackers with peanut butter;

I strongly suggest that, if you don't have sinusitis, you action the above at once.

If you do have sinusitis (I hope this relates to NO ONE), or even a common cold, the past few weeks has taught me that the below may help you (don't do any of the below without talking to your Doctor as I am not a Doctor & plenty of the below can interact with other medications or ailments);

- Sniff eucalyptus or tea tree oil.
- Better still, put them in a vaporiser or sprinkle at the bottom of a hot shower.
- Place heat packs on your sinuses for at least 20 minutes (use potatoes if you have no heat packs, they hold the heat), then tilt your head upside down (bend over or lie on your stomach and put it over the edge of the bed), and blow your nose!
- Get a decongestant nasal spray from the chemist.
- Get a neti pot.
- Stay warm, even if it means being hot.
- Get a saline spray and use it.
- Sniff steam, even if you just inhale your cups of tea.
- Drink luke-warm drinks and a lot of them.
- Make simple, brothy soup packed with garlic, fresh ginger and vegetables. 
- Make tea of a cinnamon stick and 5 slices of fresh ginger (this is also very yummy).
- Drink green tea and eat berries.
- Lower your intake of dairy and sugar.
- Try vitamin C and E.
- Sleep with your head elevated.
- Wear a beanie around the clock (yes, I am sleeping in a beanie).
- Try a cough medicine as a decongestant, or a flu tablet containing pseudoephedrine.
- Rest!  No cooking, cleaning, essay writing etc (hear that, Natalie?).

Unfortunately, none of the above has worked well enough for me to get back to work so now a super-cocktail of medications has been prescribed.  It is yuck.

I'll be back!  

Stay well,
Nat x