Category Archives: Food

Anything from restaurant reviews to recipes, interesting facts to farmers markets

Why Aldi rocks (but is bad for chocolate lovers)

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Let me preface this by saying this is not a sponsored post. Because, you know, the sponsorship offers of my high traffic blog are just flying in.

Today I would like to rave about Aldi. Aldi rocks. In fact I may have dedicated an entire post to Aldi already…or perhaps it was just to online shopping. Anyway. Aldi rocks. Did I mention that? Let me tell you why. They have an organic range of food that is cheaper, that’s right, CHEAPER than the normal equivalent at a regular supermarket.

They have organic milk for $1.99. Organic chocolate. Organic coffee. Even organic baby formula. They have Lindt equivalent chocolate that tastes just as good (if not better!) and it’s HALF THE PRICE!!! (which is actually incredibly dangerous for chocolate lovers like myself). In fact, Aldi is cheap as chips, and most of their stuff is Australian made.

I started shopping Aldi about a year ago now but my husband wasn’t into it. He’s not really into anything that’s not “normal” or “usual” (I have no idea how we get along). It didn’t matter what I said, I couldn’t sway him from the idea that Aldi was just cheap knockoffs. Until his mate introduced him to Aldi chocolate, and a few other items. Well, of course, if it comes out of his mate’s mouth then it must be right, so finally he’s on board with the Aldi shopping. (Though he has complained about the organic milk, that it doesn’t taste right, but I said “yeah, that’s because it’s go no added crap to it.”)

If you’ve never been before it helps to know what you’re getting into before you go, because it can be incredibly intimidating and it’s easy to look like a newbie. First, bring your own shopping bags, because at Aldi they charge you. Next, you have to be super fast in packing your bags because they don’t do it for you. So my tip is not to bother, just put the groceries into your trolley, move your trolley over to the bench and pack from there.

Aldi is fantastic for staple items, but if you’re looking for more specialist stuff then your regular grocery store is the best option. Still, you can buy enough food to feed a small family of 4 (as in a preppy and a toddler) for a week for less than $100.

Lunchbox fillers for kidlets

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http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/green-kids-lunch-44071008Are you running out of ideas on what to give your scavengers kids for snack time at school? I know I suffer from brain fuzz sometimes when it comes to making it healthy and interesting without giving them the same things all the time. So here are my suggestions, and feel free to add yours in the comments!

  • Sakata rice crackers- the whole grain ones are delicious and have no flavour enhancers or any other bad stuff. Yummy flavours and tasty!
  • A tub of sultanas, banana chips and nuts
  • Frozen berries (Aldi sells boxes of frozen berries for $5.00. Waaaay cheaper than the fresh variety and really yummy once they’ve thawed!)
  • Frozen berries in organic natural yoghurt (Aldi also has awesome organic natural yoghurt…)
  • Tune, avocado and plain natural yoghurt dip (to go with the rice crackers)
  • Chopped  fruit (I find the whole apple will get eaten more often if I have chopped it up rather than left it whole)
  • A tub of cold meat and cheese
  • Organic cheese flavoured corn chips (again, good ol’ Aldi has the organice kind, nice and cheap, with no nasty stuff)
  • Tin of baked beans (good cold and straight from the tin according to my 5yo)
  • Oven baked pita bread broken up into “chips” and sprinkled with herbs
  • Home made gluten free biscuits (like oat and raisen) yummy!
  • Chopped carrots and celery to go with the tuna and avocado dip

There, lots of ideas to rotate, none of them leaving you feeling guilty.

“You’ll never look at dinner the same way again”…

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I’m supposed to be reading the paper, but instead I have been completely distracted by this…

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site – Hungry For Change?.

Reading The Age Epicure (so I was reading) I stumbled across this article about an American farmer, Joel Salatin, who is part of Daylesford Macedon Produce Harvest Week who is waging war against farming with the use of chemicals, hormones etc. The article mentions the movie Food, Inc., which I guess is somewhat similar to Fast Food Nation and created by the same guy, Eric Schlosser.

“When you go through a supermarket there is an illusion of diversity…so much…of our industrial food…turns out to be…rearrangements of corn…” (cue list: tomato sauce, cheese, twinkies, batteries, peanut butter)- Food,Inc. preview

I’ve been becoming more and more obsessed with the food I and my family eat, very aware of how most of what we put in our mouths is somewhat (if not wholly) unnatural and unhealthy for us. We all know it’s happening; chickens being pumped with growth hormones, vegetables growing four times their size but with no flavour whatsoever, and of course, thanks to Jamie Oliver, all the other terrible things that are happening to our food. You can read more about my rants of unhealthy food here.

I just want to create this awareness that it is something we can control. We are giving these huge food companies the power to do this to our food. Instead of buying at big supermarket chains, we can buy from places like this, Aussie Farmers Direct. They’re exactly like the old fashioned milk man/ green grocers!! On Tuesdays and Thursdays they will deliver bread and milk to my area for FREE (delivery, that is, not produce), and on Fridays they deliver meat, fruit and vegetables! And, they are all Australian produce, so we would be supporting Aussie farmers, while sticking it to the man!!!

Come on people!! Let’s stop shovelling shit down our throats!!

Food, glorious, unmodified food!

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Hi all! Sorry about the lack of posts recently! I went to QLD for a week with my family, and have spent the two weeks since I returned trying to catch up on my studies, as I hate falling behind! But I’m ok now, apart from an assignment due on Friday, and another on Monday. It’s all good. Really, it is! Especially with my mum not being around to help me! (Do you detect a faint whiff of desperation?)

I went to see a nutritionist on the weekend; something I rarely do. Ideally, I want to begin a detox program for a few weeks to give my body a clean slate. But somewhere in the appointment this point got lost (possibly in translation, as the guy was really hard to understand!), and I just ended up getting advice on what to eat and not to eat to give my digestive system a break.
It began with something I already knew- cutting out red meat, dairy and anything with wheat and gluten. Fine, I sort of expected that. But then I was told a bunch of information that is totally contradicting to what I hear in every day life. He (let’s call him George. That is his name, after all) told me he doesn’t believe in a solid breakfast, that people should only have liquid breakfasts, like fresh fruit and/or veggie juice. He also mentioned that the body isn’t ready to eat a proper meal until around midday, and that the biggest meal of the day should occur between 12pm-8pm (whew, got something right!) but that it should be had for lunch.
This, of course, would mean that I have to either totally upturn my family’s eating habits…or that I will need to start cooking two sets of meals a day.
Yeah, I’ll pass on that thanks. What else you got for me?
I wouldn’t have been proper consultatoin if I had walked away empty handed, and so I did not. I brought these seeds called Chia seeds, which are apparently nature’s superfood. You can read more about this superfood here. It turns out I’m also probably (I use the term “probably” loosely) iodine deficient- something to do with my neck. I was also told not to consume margerine or olive oil spread, or any light margarine, and instead, when cooking or using it as a spread, to use pure butter. The theory behind this is that butter is something like 80-90% fat, so if margerine is only half this, what other ingredients does it contain? The idea behind all this is that I should be consuming products that occur naturally, with little or no modification.
So, I have a new food theory. And this is NOT about losing weight, mind you. I may not be satisfied with my body, but I’m in a place where I want it to be healthy rather than thin. So, my theory is, the food we are meant to be eating is the same foods we were eating as neanderthals. 
That is fruit, veggies, grains, seeds, nuts, red meat, white meat, fish and water. That’s it. For all the people that think human’s weren’t meant to eat meat: our canines (teeth, not dogs) say otherwise, as does the history of being meat eaters. If we weren’t meat eaters we would never have been hunter-gatherers right? We would have been only gatherers. But that’s not to say we should eat heaps of it.
Look, I’m starting to preach, and this was not my intention. I’m merely sharing my new food theory with you. I am enjoying this new way of seeing food, and it’s amazing, once I have become aware of it, how much processed food there actually is out there. I really believe that processed food is just totally not good for us. All those chemicals! We’d be horrified if we knew what really went into stuff…like anti-freeze…
Anywho. More posts soon!

Food for thought: Prawn, spinach and basil risotto

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It’s the first time I’ve ever cooked risotto, because I always thought risotto was one of those things you had to get right or it was awful. And it worked, thank goodness. It was delicious, so I’m sharing it with you all.

Time: 15 mins prep, 25 mins cooking
Ingredients
400g raw, shelled prawns
3 Tbsp finely chopped spring onions
125g finely shredded baby spinach leaves
30g finely chopped fresh basil leaves
330g arborio rice
500ml chicken stock
30g grated parmesan cheese (optional)
60g butter
2 Tbsp olive oil

Method
Put aside 6-8 prawns and roughly chop the rest of them. Put chicken stock and 175ml of water to saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add the whole prawns for 2-3 minutes, or until bright pink, then remove and put aside.

Put 2 tbsp of the butter and oil into frying pan, on med-high heat. Add spring onions and sautee until soft. Add rice and sautee until opaque. Reduce to medium heat and add 180ml of stock to rice and stir until most of stock absorbed. Add chopped prawns and stir. Continue adding stock in 180ml batches, adding more every time it has absorbed, until only small amount of stock left, and rice is al dente. Stir continually. This will take around 20 minutes. Add final tbsp of stock along with spinach, basil, remaining butter, salt to taste, and parmesan. Stir then serve immediately, garnishing with prawns that were set aside.

Delicious!!

Quick and Easy Meal: Veggie stir fry with rice vermicelli noodles

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One night I had NO idea what to have for dinner, and I thought we had no food in the house. No meat or fresh veg anyway. What we did have, however, were frozen veggies in the freezer, and vermicelli noodles in the pantry. Mixing this with soy sauce and oyster sauce made the fastest, tastiest, and surprisingly healthy meal that I couldn’t have done better if I’d planned it.

Time: 10 minutes (from start to eating)
Ingredients
1 Packet frozen veg (asian is good, but any are fine)
1 packet rice vermicelli noodles (of hokkien noodles)
soy sauce
oyster sauce
sweet chilli sauce (optional if you have it, for more flavour)

Method
Cook noodles in boiling water until tender
While noodles are cooking, add small amount of oil to wok and throw in as many (or few) frozen veg as you want
Add enough oyster and soy sauce to coat veggies with flavour
Drain noodles once cooked, then throw into wok
Stir all together for couple of minutes, then serve!

Stuck for ideas for dinner? Stock your cupboard with these basics and you’ll never be short of ideas.

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One of the questions that haunts me every day of my life, except Fridays, aside from “what should I wear today?” is “what’s for dinner?” Sometimes my husband will ask me that at 9am, when I’ve just logged on to Skype, and my hubby is at work, at his computer, and hungry from not eating breakfast.

Trying to keep meals interesting and easy is a pretty damn difficult task if you’re not Jamie Oliver, and don’t have a garden full of fresh veggies to choose from. And trying not to cook the same thing all the time is quite difficult too, as it requires having your fridges and cupboards stocked with a plethora of different food stuffs to cater for all occasions- something we might all agree isn’t really financially viable.

So, I’ve created a list of basics that every cupboard and fridge should have, that will help keep meals interesting, without having to buy a fresh bunch of herbs, only to use a few sprigs, and have to throw the rest out.

HERBS and SPICES
The first thing you want to do is establish yourself a hearty spice rack (or cupboard, in my case). Of course, the base of every meal are the spices you use. You could have the same 3 veggies and the same meat every day, but using combinations of different herbs is what keeps the flavours different. So here are my essentials:
– Oregano
– Basil
– Cumin
– Tumeric
– Curry powder
– Paprika
– Garam Masala
– Chives
– Cinnamon
– Nutmeg

I haven’t included rosemary in this because I believe if you need rosemary, you really should use bunches that can be easily removed from the dish, because let’s face it- while the flavour of rosemary is devine, no one really likes chewing on those little stick- like leaves, and rosemary bunches can be kept for ages, as it really doesn’t matter if they dry out.

IN THE PANTRY/CUPBOARD
There are other basics every pantry should have that can help cater for many different types of meals. They can be kept for ages and ages and ages, and called upon whenever you need them. You don’t have to feel bad that they sit in the cupboard unused, because these are things that no matter how long you’ve had them for, you WILL eventually use them. These are:
– Pasta
– Spaghetti or fetuccinni
– Noodles- either Maggi, or those Mi Goreng ones
– Brown or Basmati rice
– Chick peas (cans are easier)
– Cans of borlotti beans, butter beans, lentils (green and yellow)
– Bag of red lentils
– Cans of chopped tomatoes
– recipe bases such as Continentals chow mein, thai green curry, beef goulash, curried sausage, french onion soup, etc.
– Sauces such as soy, fish, tomato, worcestershire, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sweet chilli
– Pesto

VEGGIES
And of course, there are some basic vegetables that you everyone should have:
– Onions
– Garlic
– Potatoes
– Pumpkin
– Spinach
– Sweet potatoes
– Carrots
– Zuchinni
– A packet of frozen veggies in the freezer for emergencies

All other veggies can be seasonal, or whatever you feel like eating at the time. Curries and asian dishes can use whatever you have in your fridge, really.

WHAT TO DO WITH THOSE PESKY VEGGIES YOU DON’T USE
We all have those shopping days when we see a veggie we don’t normally eat on special, or are feeling rather creative, and think “hmm, I might be able to do something great with those asparagus/egg plant/brocollini. We also have those days when you feel like making something specific, and the recpie calls for a few sprigs of…say…spring onions. But what to do with that half a leftover bunch sitting in the fridge now?

The answer? Chuck it all in a pasta or stir fry dish. The great thing about pastas and stir fries is that if you have all the right sauces and spices (and if you follow my basics list then you should have) you can chuck all those wilting veggies in a pasta or stir fry dish and it will taste divine. Either blend it all up with a can of tomatoes and make a delicious bolognese sauce, or slice it and dice it, and chuck it in a wok with some soy, fish sauce, and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s healthy, and you don’t have to feel bad about wasting vegetables.

I have somehow developed this knack of being able to look in the fridge and make a meal out of what’s available, or what needs to be used. And I attribute this skill to a well stocked pantry and spice rack. They are all basics that can be used, or can sit there for years, and still be ok.

If you’re stuck with what to cook, have a fridge full of stuff, but don’t know what to do with it, let me know and I’ll give you some ideas!