Post-beach breakfast.

It’s really only over the past couple of weeks that I’ve come to appreciate how lucky I am to be living literally across the road from the beach.  For some reason, over Christmas I finally decided it was time to put self-consciousness aside and go swimming…the first time I’ve been in a swimsuit out in public for over 20 years, maybe longer. So it’s a pretty huge thing for me.  Only took me six months of living a minute’s walk away to do it…crazy, I know.

In reaching this milestone of sorts, I want to make it clear that it’s not because I’ve finally achieved a ‘beach body’ of any description, and now feel the need to get out there an flaunt it…far from it.  In fact it would probably be true to say that I’m actually the heaviest and most out of shape I’ve EVER been in my life.  Which rather than making me MORE self-conscious, is adding to the feeling of freedom I’m getting from the whole thing.  I just don’t care any more whether people judge me for my wobbly thighs or my huge bum…well, I care a little bit, I’ll be honest…maybe a bit more work to be done on that perhaps.  But the point is, I care FAR LESS than I don’t care, and after a life long battle against crippling self-criticism, it’s nice to see the scales start to tip in a direction that is far kinder to myself, even if the other scales seem to resolutely keep going up up UP.

And the feeling of stepping into the sea water and swimming out into the waves…I can’t believe I’ve allowed myself to be robbed of that for so long.  It really is pitiful.  Once I am immersed in that warm salty bath, under the vast spreading sky, and with the sand between my toes…all cares vanish.  I am just me…me and the sea.  It’s magical. And the thought that I was living so close to it for so long and felt too fearful of the judgements of others to get out there and enjoy it…makes me quite sad, really.  Anyway…I’ve moved past that now, thank goodness.

So…despite all the challenges and set-backs I’ve endured over the past six months since moving to this seaside idyll…I’m starting to see what the plan was when I felt the pull to up stakes and head north.  Not quite what I thought that plan was, of course…but a pretty amazing journey nonetheless.

On that note, here is today’s post-beach, no filter breakfast…

Breakfast

Yum 🙂

Now to continue enjoying my last official day of freedom before heading back to work (I don’t count the weekend as I’ll be busy prepping for a new year…and god knows what next week…)

xo

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Motivations.

I’ve been giving some thought as to what my motivations are for the next year/going forward (in the spirit of thinking of these as life adjustments, rather than short-term goals).

There’s a few things swirling around right now but I think what it boils down to is a combination of moderation, mindfulness and balance.  I want to bring a few key things in my life into balance, by practising a lot more moderation and mindfulness.

Moderation when it comes to eating and spending money.

Mindfulness when it comes to eating and moving my body.

Balance when it comes to all of the above.

I’ve spent much of my life focusing on the wrong things, trying to achieve certain outcomes…I swing from hyper-motivated and organised to inert and depressed within days and I never seem to get a handle on it.  Now I am getting a bit older, I’m finding about a week a month is a hormonal disaster zone too, so it’s much harder to try and hold onto the threads of a balanced mindset.

I’m not sure how I get around this or solve it but clearly what I’ve been doing hasn’t worked, or only partly worked, so I need to figure out what my best motivation is in order to achieve a life I can be comfortable in.

Many years ago, my Mum finally gave up smoking after over 20 years of trying.  In the end, it wasn’t health concerns that tipped the scales for her – it was money.  As the price of cigarettes began to skyrocket in Australia, she finally found the motivation to quit.  It was pretty surprising, as all previous attempts had met with failure and she never really seemed to have that internal drive to NEED or WANT to quit…but faced with the hip-pocket pain, suddenly the conditions were right.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that I’m wondering if I can harness the desire to get my finances under control in other areas of my life – not consciously, but as a flow-on effect.  For example, I’m really sick to death of wasting money on food, and despite this profligacy, not really nourishing myself properly.  I know how to eat well, and I know how to cook – those things aren’t my problem.  The problem is fear – I fear restriction, I fear denial, I fear insufficiency and meagreness.  So I buy food to fill those gaps, so I don’t have to worry about going without.  But then…I just waste it, either by letting it go bad or over-eating to assuage my guilt at the waste.  It’s not very healthy, mentally or physically.  How can I combat something that is so deep-rooted in me?

Perhaps instead of focusing on the food I need to focus on the waste (and by waste I mean of the food itself and the money spent on it).  Bring my life into balance by bringing my spending into balance.

I’m not even going to try to deal with the movement part right now – as an active plan.  I want to get out and about more, now that I can (or at least THINK that I can…we’ll see what my foot has to say about that) but for now, I want to spend the next month focusing on the FOOD:WASTE nexus and see if being mindful of what I spend, I can be mindful of what I eat.  It’s the opposite way around to how I’d usually approach it – normally I’m trying to cut my food intake to achieve a certain weight loss goal, but frankly that’s never really worked for me and besides, I just can’t seem to lose weight any more so why start with something that is a proven failure?  Time to try something new.

Plan for the rest of this week and next week:

I don’t get paid until next Thursday which is when my new year budget plan will swing into action, so I’m really just trying to get through til then when it comes to money and food!  I’ve already spent just shy of $100 on groceries in the past few days just to get by – and this was money I didn’t really have (stolen from my Fitbit fund and my loan repayment account…yeah I know, this is how it goes right now…see why I need to change things?) and given I’ve budgeted $200 a fortnight for groceries this year, I’m going to need to get really serious about meal planning and only buying what I NEED.

(I also spent $15 on a bottle of wine yesterday…that was my response to finding out my work situation is, once more, in a state of total flux. More on this another time perhaps…)

(And in the spirit of complete honesty, I also jammed together some Christmas biscuits with ice cream and ate these EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT AND IT MADE ME SICK…so, yeah…emotional eating and drinking…clearly another big issue.  But I’m putting that to one side for now…and possibly throwing out both the biscuits and the ice cream)

So all that said, what am I eating until next weekend, using ONLY what’s in my fridge and pantry right now?

Today (Jan 5):

  • Breakfast – Fruit (nectarine, mango & blueberries) with yoghurt and homemade granola (I use this recipe and it’s the BOMB) & coffee
  • Lunch – Poached egg on toast with avocado, goats cheese and homemade dukkha
  • Dinner – Left over fried rice
  • Let’s face it I will probably finish that bottle of wine too…it’s Friday so…yeah
  • I’ll also freeze the rest of the fried rice into 3 x lunches for next week

Saturday (Jan 6):

  • Breakfast – same as Friday
  • Lunch – same as Friday
  • Dinner – Buttermilk marinated chicken leg with potato wedges and salad

Sunday (Jan 7):

  • Breakfast – Poached egg on toast & coffee
  • Lunch – Buttermilk marinated chicken leg with salad
  • Dinner – Steamed fish-in-a-bag and vegetables
  • I may be forced to go out and buy a few pieces of fruit for next week’s breakfasts – i’ll head down to the markets toward midday and see if I can pick up some bargains with the few shekels left in my wallet)

Monday (Jan 8):

  • Breakfast – Fruit, yoghurt and granola and homemade iced coffee for the trip to work (coffee, ice, soy milk and agave)
  • Lunch – Fried rice
  • Dinner – Buttermilk marinated chicken leg with potato wedges and salad

Tuesday (Jan 9):

  • Breakfast – Same as yesterday
  • Lunch – Buttermilk marinated chicken leg with vegetables
  • Dinner – Lettuce wrap ‘hamburger’ (beef patty, cheese, tomato, mustard & sauce wrapped in lettuce)

Wednesday (Jan 10)

  • Breakfast – Same as yesterday
  • Lunch – Fried rice
  • Dinner – Same as yesterday

Thursday (Jan 11)

  • Breakfast – Same as yesterday if I have any fruit left.  If not, i’ll make an egg on toast and take this into work and eat it (I leave home at just before 7am and this is too early for me to eat) or grab one of the two pieces of banana bread left in the freezer.
  • Lunch – Fried rice
  • Dinner – Same as yesterday

Friday (Jan 12)

  • Breakfast – Egg on toast or banana bread and iced coffee
  • Lunch & Dinner – I have no idea what will be left at this stage…stay tuned

Saturday (Jan 13)

  • I go shopping and the whole exercise really begins…

Right…now that’s all sorted, I’m going to work up the motivation to go for a swim. More of a paddle really, but I’m loving being in the sea right now.  And best of all…it’s FREE!!!

Dinner on the cheap.

Tonight I made fried rice.  Not something I do very often but it’s quick and somewhat nutritious and I had most of the stuff on hand.  The only thing I had to go buy was frozen peas – I already had 2 lonely looking spring onions, a single little brown onion, garlic (which I forgot to use!), brown rice (cooked up a few hours before and chilled, it works soooo much better that way), a chicken breast and left over Christmas ham from the freezer, carrots that have spent far too long in my crisper, a few eggs and a combo of oyster sauce, soy sauce and sriracha.  Yummo!  I now have dinner for the next few nights, and maybe a couple of lunches for next week too (which I’ll freeze ahead of time of course).  This is excellent news, because I am B R O K E after hosting my family at Christmas, so I have no money spare until pay day next week.  That means cheap dinners are ESSENTIAL right now.  Anyhoo, here is what it turned out like:

Fried Rice 2Fried Rice 1

Eating Ideas for One.

One of the suggestions I did manage to find that I thought might be useful when it comes to meal planning for one, was to make a list of the things you like to eat for each meal.  I’ve never really given this much thought – I either eat what’s there or what I feel like.  But I guess that’s part of why I’m carrying far too much weight and also spending money like water when it comes to food, so I figured this could really help me to start thinking ahead.  So here is an evolving list, divided up by meals.  This is stuff I either currently eat, or would like to eat, so doesn’t necessarily represent how magnificent my diet is right now, or how it should be.  I think there are things I’m about to put on this list which are either way too sugary, fatty or carby but the idea is to get all the things I like on there, and then work out how to make cheaper and healthier versions of them down the track.

BREAKFAST

  • Home-made granola, fruit and yoghurt
  • Poached egg on toast, sometimes with avocado & dukkha
  • Smoked salmon & cream cheese bagel/toast
  • Iced coffee with soy milk and agave (home made)
  • Egg muffins filled with bacon and mushrooms and spring onions etc

LUNCH

  • Chicken and salad sandwich
  • Fritata (though this can get very boring for 5 lunches in a row so I have to be careful not to make a massive batch)
  • Mixed salads
  • Wraps – including lettuce wraps which would transport a bit better I think
  • Fried rice (for dinner too)…god knows I have enough left over ham in the freezer to dispose of right now.  In fact i’m making up a batch of this tonight!
  • ….?  I think this list is a work in progress…
  • Roast chicken & Greek salad
  • Roast chicken & coleslaw

DINNER

  • Baked fish with salad or vegetables
  • Steak with salad or vegetables
  • Fried rice
  • Soup (probably less so now that I live in the sort-of tropics but I can’t rule it out)
  • Smoothie (when it’s hot and I don’t feel like cooking!)
  • Tray bakes
  • Pasta or rice dishes (not a huge pasta eater but I like it now and then)
  • Hamburgers
  • ….wow, this is harder than I thought!  It’s no wonder my eating is so hit and miss…

SNACKS & OTHER STUFF

  • Apples
  • Cheese & crackers
  • I want to try making some sprouted grain bread (Ezekiel bread) to have as toast, or in sandwiches
  • Boiled eggs
  • Hummus & crudites (carrots & cucumber)
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • hmmmm…there must be more.  I LOVE to snack…

Seriously, snacking is where I fall down big time.  If I prepared more meals and snacked less…well I think half the problem could be solved right there.  Watch this space…

 

Hello 2018.

So, this blog has been pretty unloved for a while.  Years in fact.  And a HUGE amount has happened in my life since then.  I’ve changed jobs…several times.  I’ve had a couple of major injuries to deal with.  And biggest of all, I decided on a complete whim to up and move half way across the country and managed to achieve that within the space of about four or five weeks.  Nearly killed myself doing it, but I got there…and what a wild six months it has been since.

I’ll probably get into a little of what that involved later, but for now, I’m doing a bit of planning for the year ahead while I have the time to think about it.  In doing that, my mind turned back to my little website, and I wondered how I could utilise it to help me stay focused and succeed in my goals this year.

I had been toying with the idea of resurrecting this site for a little while, mostly as a vehicle for writing rather than recipe sharing.  However there could be a little bit of both still happening, I think.  I’m no great goal-setter or resolution junkie, but I did undertake this big move in order to change a few things in my life (for the better, in case that isn’t implied!) and also to get on track to achieving a few of those ‘big life dreams’…which frankly, I’ve left it very late in life to do.  I’m staring a very, very big age milestone in the face and it really is now or never for me.  So…time to get serious.  About everything, really.

First up is giving some serious thought and more than that, ACTION to my finances this year.  I do this every year but intention goes out the window when expenses come calling, or something pops up on eBay I just have to have.  But there’s no getting around it…i’m in a precarious financial state.  I earn a decent wage, but always seem to be struggling from one pay cheque to the next, and any unexpected expense (like last year’s car dramas, which I’m still paying for) absolutely throws me for a six.  I’m carrying far too much debt and have no emergency ‘cushion’ in case things go wrong…and if there’s one thing life has taught me in the past couple of years, it’s that things can and do go wrong, often at the worst possible time.  I’ve never really learned how to save, and apart from my car, I have no assets to speak of.  At my age, that’s sort of embarrassing.  Its something i’m really committed to fixing this year…better late than never.  I hope, anyway.

So to that end, I’ve been drawing up a budget and trying to sort out where my money goes so that I can squirrel more of it away for a rainy day.  Hell, who am I kidding – there’s no ‘more’, there’s nothing, so I’m starting from scratch here.  With that in mind, I’ve given myself a savings goal and I’m absolutely determined to stick to it. I am realistic enough to know that I’ll need to dip into it for things like car registration or repairs, but the point for me will be the commitment of putting that certain amount aside each pay day, without fail, and learning to live on what’s left.

One of the things I know I already spend far too much money on is food – in fact, it would probably be true to say that food is my second major expense, after rent.  I don’t really plan, I just randomly buy, and as a result I don’t eat properly, and I throw away far too much food.  Which is a massive pain, not to mention expensive and a bloody waste.  And when I do cook, I cook far too much, and I end up overeating so I don’t feel like it’s going to waste.

Something has to give.

I live alone and while I wouldn’t change this for the world, not only is it expensive, it’s very hard to plan meals effectively for just one person.  In the spirit of preparation, I’ve done a bit of Googling, and hit my old friend Pinterest up to see if I could follow someone else’s well-worn footsteps in this regard…but surprisingly there is very little out there in the way of tasty, healthy, cost-effective meal planning for one.  I guess we’re a bit boring as a target market…far more hits involved when you put ‘family meal plan’ in there I suppose…and let’s face it, it’s far easier to plan meals when you can buy in bulk and stretch a little to go a long way and across multiple meals.  It’s a lot more difficult to save money and not waste stuff when you’re only buying for one.

Anyway…I’m going to do my best to really plan ahead food-wise this year, and save some money in the process.  As well as hopefully lose some weight.  Which I’m hoping will just be a welcome side-effect, rather than the purpose for what I’m doing.  I also want to cut out refined sugars this year also, but once again not from a weight loss perspective…rather from a health one.  So while I’m going to do my best to be ‘sugar free’, I’m not going to bang on about it.  At least, I don’t think I’m going to.  Might have to put a pin in that one and reassess in a month or so 😉

So that’s this year in a nutshell.  Writing, eating better, and saving money.  Shouldn’t be a big ask, right?

xoxo

 

Sunday morning ANZACs.

Om Nom ANZACs.jpg

I doubt there is a single Aussie kid who hasn’t baked or eaten these at one point or another…they’re the quintessential antipodean biscuit.  So bloody easy to make, I remember these were one of the first things I ever cooked in Home Ec class, back in the day (are those classes even around anymore??) – and many, many times since.

These ANZACs have a bit of a twist – partly because of preference, and partly because of what I did (or didn’t) have in the pantry at the time.  That’s the great thing about these biscuits – they can take a bit of tweaking and still taste delicious.  If you can tolerate gluten free oats, these are good for those with gluten issues (just swap out the flour for a GF variety) and vegans can use a vegetable based margarine in place of the butter, to make them completely free of animal products.

But please…don’t EVER call them cookies.  To an Aussie, that’s just sacrilege…they were, are, and will always remain, BIKKIES 🙂

Continue reading “Sunday morning ANZACs.”

Weekend bread.

Bread Sliced

Whenever my niece is home for the holidays, I try to get some quality time in by scheduling a sleep over with her.  This usually consists of pizza, movies, playing games, colouring in and in the morning, a special breakfast.

I saw this recipe in this month’s delicious magazine, and knew it was going to be perfect for this weekend treat – as regular readers will know, I try to steer clear of gluten and especially bread…mostly because I love it so much!  And as you can see from the picture above…what’s not to love?

Given that i’ve been baking pretty well constantly since I had to stand on a chair to reach the kitchen table, it’s somewhat baffling that my experience with bread making is practically nil.  I think I thought if I ever started, i’d never stop…and after baking this little beauty, you can believe my interest has been well and truly piqued.

Super easy to make, this Twisted ANZAC Loaf has a lovely brioche-like texture…I don’t know whether this was sheer luck on my part, or the flour I used – fine Italian “OO” flour, which is apparently the same as strong flour, or bread and pizza flour.  Anyway – i’d highly recommend getting this type rather than just resorting to your standard shelf variety, because the texture was just magnificent.

As for the gluten free variety…please stay tuned!

Twisted ANZAC Bread

Adapted ever so slightly from delicious magazine, April 2016

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp dried yeast
  • 3/4 cup (185ml) milk, warmed
  • 1 1/2 tbs caster sugar
  • 3 cups (450g) bread & pizza flour (strong or “OO” flour)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • Finely grated zest of an orange
  • 100g macadamias, toasted, chopped
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup instant oats
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (90g) golden syrup, plus extra to drizzle

Method

  1. Place yeast, milk and 1 tsp caster sugar in a bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.  Set aside for 5 mins or until frothy.
  2. Place the flour, yolks, yeast mixture, 125g melted butter, 1 tsp salt and remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Knead on medium low speed for 10 minutes, or until smooth (alternatively, knewad by hand on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic).
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and set aside for 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
  4. Go back to bed for a cup of tea and a snooze… 😉
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C.  Combine orange zest and remaining 25g melted butter in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine macadamias, oats, mixed spice and cinnamon.
  6. Lightly flour a large pice of baking paper and place on a work surface.  Knock back dough and roll out on the floured paper to a 25cm x 45cm rectangle.
  7. Brush butter mixture over the dough, leaving a 1cm border.  Scatter over 3/4 of the macadamia mixture, and then drizzle with the golden syrup.
  8. Working from the long edge, roll the dough into a log, pressing down to seal.  Cut dough lenghtwise to create two logs with a large exposed edge.
  9. Turn the halves cut-side out to expose the macadamia mixture, then twist the two logs together and pinch ends to seal.
  10. Using the baking paper, transfer the loaf to a baking sheet.  Scatter with remaining macadamia mixture.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 170C and bake for a further 35-40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
  11. Serve bread in slices, and drizzled with extra golden syrup.

Notes

  • I used the second lowest setting on my Kitchen Aid to knead the dough, and even though it seemed very slow, it worked perfectly.
  • About the instruction to roll out the dough on the baking paper…if you can figure out a way to stop that paper sliding all over your work surface as you attempt to roll out the dough, please let me know because it defeated me.  I tried putting it onto a cutting board, a tea towel, and a regular kitchen counter (my work surface is stainless steel) and all I ended up doing was chasing that lump of dough around the kitchen.  Eventually I gave up and rolled it out on the work surface the traditional way, and just transferred it to the baking tray (lined with paper) after twisting the two halves together (but before sprinkling with the remaining macadamia mix).
  • I didn’t have any golden syrup, so I used a combination of honey and date molasses..this is why it looks so dark in the pic above.  It was a very tasty substitute!
  • Because my oven is so crap, it took me much longer to cook (nearly an hour), and I actually sliced the whole thing down the middle and separated it, to cook for the last 10 minutes.  I was paranoid about it being doughy, but I needn’t have been – the texture was just right all the way through.