Cafe Review

Popping in to Woodside Cafe for coffee with a colleague yesterday morphed into a three hour stint sitting outside with my laptop. The owner came outside to pat Mojo and had a chat about the food – everything on the menu is gluten free made lovingly on site.

The coffee is delicious and the brunch bruschetta I had was AMAZING. Buckwheat bread with hummus, spiced cauliflower, sauerkraut and coriander – as I was ordering the waiter said make sure you eat it with the chutney – which I did. Heaven.

Metro Magazine reviewed Woodside a few weeks ago – you can read their article here

People on the south side of the Harbour Bridge you need to try this place.

Oodles of free parking and it’s literally a hop skip and a jump from Ponsonby. Weekdays it’s the perfect place for a business breakfast / lunch. Weekends you can take a leisurely stroll through Le Roys Bush apres brunch and get a  dose of NZ rainforest – it’s just over the road.

Love Ali x

How to Be a Salad Queen

Paul and I eat a lot of salad. He often has a chunk of steak sliced and tossed through whereas I have beans, chickpeas or sometimes squid or smoked salmon. If you have the basic ingredients at hand it takes literally 10 minutes to make a great salad.

The key to super success is having a balance of textures, flavours and colours as well as a finished dish that looks great.

Textures: soft baked kumara, avocado, hummus, crunchy seeds or nuts, crisp salad vegetables / sliced or grated raw vegetables / fruits, firm beans or other pulses, fruit such as nectarine, apple, feijoa, tamarillo, tomato, plum all give an interesting mouth feel to the salad.

Flavours: tart lemon juice, tangy feta or parmesan, sweet balsamic drizzle and fruits, salty tamari or soy sauce, creamy sweet dressing, fresh vegetables, spicy chilli sauce and ungent avocado or olive oils are some of the flavours to include – not all at once though.

Less is usually more when it comes to food combinations.

Think about what you like to eat and start there – if you’re new to making salads start by making them to please your own palate first and then you can refine your recipe until you get it just right.

This salad I made for lunch one day last week.

Serves 2

Ingredients

10 pieces of crumbed squid – baked in the oven until crispy and sliced thinly

1 large cup prepackaged coleslaw (grated carrot, red and green cabbage, parsley)

½ perfectly baked kumara, chopped roughly (recipe in an earlier post)

2 knobs blue cheese, crumbled

2 really big tablespoons hummus

Small handful of pumpkin seeds

Small red chilli sliced finely – optional if you like a bit of heat

Creamy Caesar or Ranch dressing

Tamari (you can use soy sauce) this takes the place of salt.

Fresh Cracked Pepper

Method

I always like to use nice bowls, you can see my favourite blue one in the picture. People eat with their eyes first. It doesn’t matter if you have mismatched bowls – there’s something quite nice about that too. If you can serve salad in a bowl slightly larger than you need so that there is more bowl showing (if that makes sense) it looks great. Any colour bowl will do.

First place your kumara in the bottom of each bowl, follow with the coleslaw and then the squid – so you have three layers. Just plonk them on top of each other – don’t worry about being too careful. Drizzle over your dressing and tamari – not too much you can always add more later – over dressed salad is a bit yuk. Using your fingers (or two forks) gently toss the ingredients together by scooping and lifting the kumara up from the bottom of the bowl to mix with the squid and slaw. Don’t try and get it perfectly mixed – just separate the layers really and distribute the dressing a wee bit. Next put a big dollop of hummus on one side of the salad, sprinkle the blue cheese and seeds over the top and finally add the sliced chilli pepper and cracked pepper . Serve and eat immediately.

8 Signs that You’re Sleep Deprived…and What You Can Do About It.

Sleep deprivation comes with the territory if you’re a busy working Mum. Waking up early to get an hour or two in before kids get up and squeaking in a couple of extra hours after they go to bed – it’s a never ending cycle. Some of us never recover from the sleepless nights with a new baby.

I am guilty of using iPhone or laptop in bed at night until Paul starts elbowing me to turn it off.

If you consider sleep as a tank which is full, half full or empty – when it’s less than full you will need several EXTRA hours sleep to fill it back up – on TOP of the seven to nine hours that most of us need each night.

One late night out with the girls one night spent up with a sick child one sleepless night finishing that deadline or getting through end of the month will subtract from your tank. When you put it into perspective it’s not surprising that more-than-a-third of NZ women are sleep deprived.

So are you??

Check out the list below to find out.

  • You get sick. If you’re not sleeping properly your body finds it hard to shake off bugs. Ever had a cold or sinus infection that lingers longer than it should?
  • Your skin is sallow, lined and lifeless. They call it “Beauty Sleep” for a reason!
  • You’re overly emotional. Yep we are emotional beings – but when you find yourself overly teary, angry or getting upset really easily – or on a giddy high without any reason it could be your empty sleep tank.
  • You’re clumsy. Tripping over things (ever tripped over your own foot?) bumping into the door way, dropping the keys.
  • You can’t make decisions and your memory is shot.
  • You put on weight. Sleep deprivation fries our hormones. In particular cortisol when elevated in the evening leads to weight gain around the tummy.
  • You always feel hungry. Usually this leads to snacking on convenience food, sugary foods and slugging back coffee to perk yourself up.
  • You’re disorganised and can’t think clearly.

I used to be a terrible sleeper – it took me ages to get to sleep in the evening, and when I finally did drift off I would wake up around 3am and that was that. It all changed when I started using a supplement called ageLOC Vitality which aids mitochondrial repair – ever since then I pretty much fall asleep straight away and wake up when the alarm goes off. This supplement has been a game changer for me.

Once you get into a bad sleeping habit it can be hard to break. If you can relate to any of the above some of these ideas may help.

  • Commit to going to bed a a certain time each night and stick to it. If I can get into bed and turn the lights out by 9 I know I’ll feel great in the morning. 9pm is early but in the long run everything in my life goes better when I get to sleep early. (Usually it’s 930 or 10pm however!!)
  • Create a night time ritual. Find a good chamomile tea and brew a cup half an hour before bed winding down with some peaceful music.  If you have a noisy household use earphones.
  • Meditate.
  • Turn off TV and other devices an hour before bed. Chill time for your brain.
  • Get regular (daily if possible) vigorous exercise.
  • Make sure that your bed is comfortable. This is super important. Getting into bed should be a pleasant and conducive to relaxation – if it’s not then make some changes to get it as comfy as possible!
  • Don’t drink coffee after 4pm, alcohol after 7pm and keep away from fatty foods in the evening. Some people are super sensitive to coffee – if Paul has a coffee at lunch he’ll be awake all night and if you’re like him you’ll know it…but the rest of us can have an afternoon coffee not realising that it will cause fitful sleep. The body is a machine and can only do the best with what we put in it. If it is digesting a lot of stodgy or fatty food or processing alcohol in the evening a good night’s sleep is not on the agenda.
  • Turn your mobile on to airplane mode at night so that you aren’t disturbed by incoming messages etc – this also may help stop you reaching for the phone first thing in the morning!
  • Use Lavender Essential Oil on your pillow at night.
  • Listen to a relaxation audio like this one to help relax your whole body into sleep. Ruby loves this – I do a slightly different one with her, talking to her quietly first getting her to take take easy deep breaths…then working up from the tips of her toes imagining each body part feeling heavier and heavier as though it’s sinking down deeper and deeper right through the mattress – toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees thighs working all the way up to the top of the head.

What works for you? I would be so grateful if you could share.

Love Ali x

 

The Working Mum’s Guide to Fitness

 

 

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me with a beetroot face after a spin class

I am an older Mum. One of those women newspaper and magazine articles shriek dire warnings at for waiting too long to have children, all of awful things that can happen during pregnancy and to your baby from leaving it so late. If you can in fact bear children at that age. My own mother said that I would be termed geriatric once upon a time.

As a single 35 year old those stories seemed to be everywhere and make me worry.

A lot.

I married at 36, had Ruby at 37 and just managed to squeak Bekele (sounds like Bikini if you’re wondering) out before turning 40. Ruby’s birth was difficult and took a loooong time to recover from. Bekele popped out without any drugs and the recovery was minimal thankfully.

What I was not prepared for was how exhausted I would be with babies… and this is something a younger woman can deal with so much more easily. You bounce back from lack of sleep when you’re younger. Not so at 40.

Now my babies are 7 and 9. I chose to develop and grow an online business so that I can be a stay at home mum – of sorts. I wake up at 5am and do a blog post or some social media before they get up, after school drop off I talk to my team,  make phone calls, do product training, read some personal development, host live webinars, sponsor and develop new distributors…basically do as much as I can before the school bell rings at 3pm, and once they’re in bed I’ll do a wee bit more.

It is VERY easy to let the fitness slide when you’re a busy working Mum. ‘Tis true that we put everyone else first. The gym membership can lie idle for months, the walking / running shoes sit unused in the wardrobe and the exercise machine tucked safely away out of sight gathering dust under the bed!

When unfit I feel a LOT more tired, my mood is lower and the diet can slip to convenience foods… I’m not as organised  and I feel uncomfortably flabby with uncomfortably tight waistbands. Basically being unfit sucks – and affects all areas of life. And I think that over 40 you notice it more.

Paul and I were out to celebrate a decade of marriage a few weeks ago. Our anniversary is the time when we discuss the year ahead and what we want to achieve and do. One of my things was to get fitter. I realised that if I took four hours out of my working week I could go to a spin class at the gym and that would help take care of the fitness. A good friend Justine said that she has been going to spin and loves it so I thought I’d try it. I started going here and there only once or twice a week – but in the last four weeks four times a week.

The difference is HUGE. Lets face it, spin is always going to be brutal no matter how fit you are. It doesn’t get any easier but the benefits of feeling fitter are profound. My head is clearer, I feel lighter have SO MUCH more energy, clothes fit and generally feel a lot more chirpy.

If you’re feeling unfit but don’t know how to find the time or motivation to get more exercise into your life some of these ideas below might help.

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1. Do it first thing if you can. Work out before the day gets away from you. Then it’s done and dusted and you will feel a wonderful feeling of accomplishment!

2. Block it out in your calendar so that it’s part of your schedule and you know at the start of the week when your exercise times are going to be.

3. Find a Mum to buddy up with. If you have someone to go with its easier to stick with it – and also if you need childcare to exercise (like I do) helping another Mum by taking her kids while she exercises means that she can do the same for you.

4. Run or exercise in your lunch break at work. Take your gym gear and pound the pavements or a do a class while everyone else is eating at their desk. I’ll bet your productivity goes up that afternoon.

5. Include your kids. Incorporate your children into your exercise routine. At home when they’re little try a babies yoga class like this one or pilates class like this one  When they’re at the park use their playground as a gym to do pull ups, sit ups and monkey bars. When they’re older go for bike rides and run together. They will absolutely love it.

6. While they’re at after school activities instead of sitting on social media, put your phone down and take the time to go for a walk or a jog.

7. Walk to school. If you live within a kilometre / mile of school get the kids out the door early and walk them to school. That’s 4km / miles per day if you do morning and afternoon. We do this on fine days and as we live on a decent hill it’s a mini workout getting them to and from school each day.

8. Be easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a few days here and there. Things happen and as busy Mums we have to roll with it when someone is sick or there is unexpected disruption to the day.

I would love to hear what exercise strategies work for you!

 

Love Ali x

 

 

 

 

Dates with Almond Butter

Dates have had a metamorphosis in recent years. Once an ingredient used in middle eastern and northern African cooking (absolutely amazing in lamb tagine) and something you put into scones, date loaf and sticky date pudding – dates are now widely celebrated as an alternative to sugar in healthy baking and raw movement. Their incredible sweetness and soft sticky texture makes them an easy replacement for processed sugar.

 

I saw these yesterday in a magazine and had to give them a go. I had an online presentation booked at 11.30am and finished making and taking photos of these just before it started. It took me less than five minutes to make four of them and less than five minutes to to scoff the lot! The salt adds a nice balance stopping them from being cloyingly sweet, giving them a salt caramel flavour.
Make these for when you feel like something sweet such as after a meal or to have with coffee – as an alternative to baking. Be aware dates are high in fructose so don’t eat too many if you’re being mindful of sugar intake.
Ingredients
Medjool or fresh dates
Almond Butter
Sea salt or himalayan salt
Method
Carefully slice down the middle of each date without cutting right through. Open to remove the stone. Take a small amount of almond butter on the edge of a teaspoon or knife and smear into the gap before pressing the two sides together. Sprinkle with a teensy bit of salt. Eat!
*Dates are a good source of  calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
*One tablespoon of almond butter contains as much protein as you get from the same quantity of meat. It is also an excellent source of fiber, which helps digestion and nourishes tissues. Just one teaspoon of almond butter contains more than 25% of your daily requirement of Vitamin E.

 

 

Vulnerability. It’s Powerful

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I have been watching reading and LOVING Brene Brown since discovering her a few years ago. She has a natural ability to come across as completely normal – which makes her so relatable and easy to listen to. Her genius cuts straight to the heart of every topic using every day language. A  witty storyteller with an insight into what makes people tick. Us tick.

She nails it.

Brene’s message that vulnerability is not something that we are raised to be resonates with me. A lot.

It is REALLY uncomfortable for me to be vulnerable, makes me feel out of my depth and out of control – it may be for you too.

“Vulnerability is not a weakness, and that myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Brene Brown

I hope this TED talk about the power of vulnerability makes you FEEL empowered … and if you’ve seen it already, click below for another watch – it seems to get better every time.

 

 

Green Summer Salad

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Late summer is my favourite time of year for making salad. Everything in the garden is ripe to overflowing and you can whip up a salad like this in five minutes. Anything green will do: diced cucumbers, shredded rocket / basil / mint / any kind of lettuce, coriander leaves.. basically if you have it and it’s green and fresh then use it – the key is to have pieces small enough to easily eat so shredding or tearing them into the right size is important. This salad serves one, double or quadruple etc if you’re making for more people.

 

Ingredients

8 raw green beans chopped into 2 cm pieces

1/8 avocado chopped chunky

small handful of basil leaves shredded

6 mint sprigs, shredded

small handful of rocket

knob of blue cheese, crumbled

¼ cup tinned chickpeas

2 tbs pumpkin seeds

dressing: fresh lemon for squeezing, balsamic drizzle

garnish: rocket flowers/ borage flowers/ nasturtium flowers etc

himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper

Method

Pile all ingredients into a bowl – except for the dressing and garnish – and toss loosely. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle balsamic reduction over the top, season and apply floral garnish. Eat immediately.

 

 

Chilli Lime Jam

Our garden is a perpetual experiment and this year I decided to grow chillies.

John at Tumbleweeds Garden Centre advised me to wait until the end of October but Tabasco went into the ground at the end of September and it was lovingly tended every day and kept under a cloche (an upturned 4 litre plastic bottle) to stay cosy for the first month or so.

Eight weeks later it started looking lively upon which Serrano, Jalapeño, Asian Fire and Thai Hot were dug in to keep it company.

This recipe uses a mixture of Asian Fire, Jalapeño and Serrano. I didn’t weigh them but there were 55 chillies harvested. Tabasco and Thai Hot are still getting there.

Viewing cooking as an ongoing experiment also, I have adapted this recipe from Annabel Langbein’s Chilli Jam. The fish sauce was omitted to make it relevant for vegans and vegetarians, sugar was decreased by a fair bit because I didn’t have enough in the cupboard, the amount of chillies and the amount of lime upped, fresh ginger decreased (on advice from friend Sonya Blennerhassett) and there are couple of other added ingredients as well.

As I was in the process of prepping the chillies a pair of sales people knocked on the front door. One was a friendly Indian guy who said that his mother always puts a few grinds of cracked black pepper in her Chilli jam to add texture and depth of flavour.

That’s in there too.

It tastes fresh hot and sweet and the lime really shines through. The consistency is chunky and sticky like home made marmalade without the big bits of peel.

This recipe yielded 4 x 400g jars plus 2 x 250g jars of jam.

Divide it by the relevant amount of chillies you have on hand.

Ingredients

55 medium – long chillies – ripe red or green or a mix of both. Stalks removed and chopped roughly.
3 large heads of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped roughly.
3 x 5cm pieces of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
10 cups of raw sugar
2.5 cups water
2.5 cups rice vinegar
12 limes, zest and juice.
3 tsp sea salt
Few grinds of fresh black pepper.

You will need: hygienic gloves made of latex or silicon to wear while prepping chillies. This is a must.

Method

Place clean glass jars and lids into the oven on low to heat up and sterilise.

Place chillies, garlic and ginger into the food processor and blitz until mixture looks like a thick paste with little bits of chopped chilli visible.

Place this mixture and all other ingredients into a large saucepan and turn on to a medium heat stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.

Bring to the boil and lower heat to a simmer, stirring regularly to avoid it sticking on the bottom.

Cook in this way until the mixture has reduced by at least a third. This took nearly an hour of simmering for me – it may not take as long for you. Be really attentive so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

When it looks nearly done test consistency by putting a small teaspoonful onto a saucer and waiting for it to cool, taste to check if it needs more salt.

When the desired consistency has been reached turn off heat. Use a pyrex or heat proof jug to dip into the jam and pour into heated jars. Screw the lids on and leave to cool. Makes a nice gift and will keep for ages.