Monday, 20 February 2017

Claire’s Super-f*cking-food Crackers (TMX recipe)



Ingredients:

240g Raw buckwheat
1 sheet of Nori
1 Tbs Dulse flakes
10gm dried shiitake mushrooms
1 heaped Tbs of super greens powder
1 heaped tsp(10 capsules – opened of course) of sulforaphane (broccoli sprout extract)
1 tbs miso paste
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbs whole linseeds
20gm MCT oil
120mL water
Salt to taste.

Method:

  1. Get all your ingredients out so they take up as much space on the bench as possible. Forget to preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Throw buckwheat, nori, dulse and mushrooms into your dry (no really, it is important) thermy bowl. Whizz on speed 9 for 30 seconds. Immediately remove the lid so that a cloud of powder can invade your respiratory tract.
  3. Throw in all the other ingredients.
  4. Stop toddler from throwing coffee grounds all over the stack of clean dishes on the sink.
  5. Remember that you haven’t preheated your oven. Go and turn it on now.
  6.  Finish throwing all the other ingredients into the bowl.
  7. Put blades on reverse mode, you don’t want to chop up your linseeds.
  8. Blend on speed 3 for 1 minute.

    Green, isn't it!
  9.  Feed the cat and get the naked toddler off the bench
  10. Peek at the mix through the hole in the lid, if it is too crumbly slowly add water until it clumps together in big balls.
  11. (optional) add too much water and listen to the engine struggle and whine as a thick green paste appears.
  12. Get out as many baking trays as you can be arsed to find. I generally use 3.
  13. Give toddler the dustpan and broom to sweep up the coffee grounds and garlic skins he has pulled out of the compost bucket
  14. Mmmm, more coffee would be good… stay on task!
  15. Divide your dough into as many equalish pieces as you have trays, even if the trays are different sizes.
  16. Kneed your first piece and roll it into a ball. Plonk it on a sheet of baking paper.
  17. Roll out your ball using a second piece of baking paper to cover the dough. Remember that with out gluten, this baby is going to be a bitch to work with.
  18. Your dough should now look like something out of an ink-blot test. Can you see the life you had pre-kids in it?
    The linseeds spell out "This is what your life is reduced to."
  19. Cut around the edges and try to fill in the gaps with the scraps.  The perfect trapezium will look like it will fit beautifully into the tray, but give you the satisfaction of one edge curling up the side.
  20. Either play lego or tap your feet to the discordant cacophony of your kid screaming because the pieces won’t go together for him.
  21. Place your dough in the pan and using a butter knife, roughly cut it into cracker sizes. If you have more than one child make sure no two crackers are the same size.
    Perfect!
  22. Crack a little salt on it, press it down and throw it in the oven.
  23. Rinse and repeat for the other two batches.
  24. Remove coffee grounds from between your toes and wash your hands
  25. Yes, now wash the toddlers hands too.
  26. Wipe up after the tsunami that ensued from hand washing.
  27. Your crackers will take about 15-20mins to bake, but check them every ½ hour.
  28. Turn them out onto a wire rack once they look kinda kahki in colour.
  29.  Drink all the wine even if it is only 7am.


A couple of helpful hints:

Chose a day when the temperature is above 30 and you have no air conditioning, this will make the dough just a little harder to work with.

Put you crackers in the oven and then try putting the toddler down for a sleep. You will burn them all, but you will get plenty of practice making them.

Add too much oil for a super crumbly cracker. It will make sweeping the floor worth it.


Leave the edges ragged if you have an OCD or ASD kid. It will add a new layer of fun to getting them to eat them.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The main reason women give up on their health goals.

You’re keen. You have a plan. This is it! You are going to achieve that goal. You pick a date and you start. It’s exciting. You are pumped!

The first day feels a bit clunky, but you know it is worth it. You have to keep going over your plan. What is it you are supposed to be doing/eating/thinking/writing? It’s OK, this will be fine once you have created the habit.

The second day is a repeat of the first, but somehow it feels a little harder.

This continues for a few more days or a week, maybe even two. But gradually it is getting easier.

Then something happens. The baby starts teething. A kid gets sick or has exams. The toilet leaks. The car breaks down. You have a baby. The “something” doesn’t have to be a big drama for it to interrupt the process of starting a new lifestyle change. The physical toll eats away at your time, but it’s the mental toll diverting your focus that is often the goal killer. You aren’t superwoman so something has to give.

A week? A month? Six months? Here you are again. You have a plan. This is it! You are going to achieve that goal. You pick a date and you start. It’s exciting. You are pumped!...

And the cycle repeats, but this time a cloud of defeat looms over you.



The next time you even think about it, you conclude “why bother?” Not because you are no longer hungry for that goal, but because you are now back at square one.

Starting something is hard. Whether it is learning a new skill, starting a new job, exercise, diet, mindfulness, flossing your teeth, pretty much everything. It is much harder to gain impetus from a standstill, than from even the slightest bit of forward momentum.

The number one reason women give up on their health goals is not laziness - it’s not even the distractions of life - it is starter’s fatigue. It is the mental effort of having to push through starting from the beginning again and again and again and again.

A few tips to help you achieve your goals.

  1. Get the people around you to acknowledge that your goals are important. That you are important.
  2. Start small. Make small easy changes and stagger them rather than go for the all or nothing approach. Build a habit before adding more.
  3. Quit your job as micro-manager. Ask the rest of your family to step up and do things like write the shopping list, notice and do the jobs that need doing etc. (see step 1. YOU are important)
  4. Avoid comparisons. Let go of where you were, or where anyone else is. You are here right now – even if that is back at the start - and that is OK.
  5. Have an empathetic person keep you accountable. Don’t enlist The Commando. Find someone willing to help you lift the burdens, not add to them by telling you that you are crap at self-love.
  6. When it all goes to hell in a handbasket (because it will), try to pare back to the bare minimum rather than let it all go. Ask for help.



So here I am, I have a plan. Wish me luck!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Have you tried yoga?: Helping or helpfulness

Are you interested in losing friends and alienating people? These four little words can really be of assistance: Have you tried yoga (crossfit/meditation/going gluten-free)?

The night had been putridly hot: the high whine of mozzies and their itchy intrusions had allowed me only glimpses of sweet oblivion. Fat, salty tears ran down my face as I sat alone on a mattress on the floor. My worldly belongings fitting into two boxes next to me.

I missed my girls. I missed my family. I missed my home. I had walked out on everything because it had become an unworkable situation. Then as I had tried so hard to hold everything together, I was broken. Tired, homeless and stretched beyond coping I put a post on Facebook, “Feeling sad today.” I was so incredibly down, I needed help.



Among the usual virtual hugs and the offers of help was someone who I loved with a statement of helpfulness, “Why don’t you go to yoga?”

It was jarring and hurtful.

Here I was in a world of overwhelm and these words stabbed me in the chest. An accusation of laziness. I was in overwhelm because I wasn’t doing enough.

When someone is in crisis they need helpfulness about as much as a drowning person needs advice on stroke correction.

Helping is jumping into the water and bringing someone to safety. It’s active, it requires commitment from the helper. Helping is the doing, the listening. It is being present and empathetic.

A person in a crisis often can’t use the tools they have - let alone new ones – because their focus is engulfed by the problem. It is all consuming for them. It is in these circumstances all we can do as a friend is try to ease the burden of the issue. It is the only way they can get the strength to start to look at a resolution.

This doesn’t mean you need to martyr yourself. Sometimes helping is connecting a loved one with someone else who can help or rallying a group of people who can each take a small burden to ease the pressure on the person in crisis.

On the other hand, helpfulness is shouting “How to swim” instructions. It’s passive and as the presenter of helpfulness you need to do nothing more once those words have left your mouth.

You are basically throwing tools at someone who doesn’t have the strength to use them. They can’t hear you over the sound of the water and their own drowning. You can’t throw them a life buoy. They can’t see it or use it.

Giving helpfulness in a crisis is basically a way of absolving yourself of easing the problem; and burdens the drowning person with more to deal with.

Helpfulness is not always wrong.

When someone is swimming, but at risk of drowning, throwing them a life buoy could save their life. Giving someone tools to use when their head is above the water not only means that you are not under undue strain, it is empowering  for the person you are trying to help. Having new tools means they are far less likely to have the same struggle in the future.



So before you jump in with a statement of helpfulness ask yourself: Is this person drowning or dog-paddling? Am I in a position to get them out of the water?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Hopefully it's JUST epilepsy

2016 will be a year to remember, but not in a great way. Yeah, lots of celebs died and then there was Brexit which was then Trumped by the US elections, but really for us they aren’t even on the radar. This year has been hard in a way that I could never have imagined.

I can’t pinpoint when it all started to go wrong. In the middle of the night I would feel my wee boy sleeping next to me. His warm cheek against my arm, his milky breath across my skin. It would be all so peaceful and then he would start to move. A hiccough? A baring down? A vivid dream? It was so subtle that it was easy for me to dismiss and fall back to sleep.


It wasn’t until I saw my boy have a seizure in the daylight that I knew that something was wrong. Within weeks they became longer, more full on and more frequent. I have never felt more helpless in my life. I could do nothing for him while they were happening. I could hold him and talk to him as his brain suffered through these intense electrical storms. His body would spasm, his eyes would go vacant. There were times when one side of his face would drop like someone with Bells Palsy. When they stopped he would fall into a restless sleep for hours. All I could do was hold him.

EEG #5

Getting help was hard, really hard. I won’t go into all the details of the struggles we face just trying to get a diagnosis, but one thing we obvious. There is a massive information void when it comes to epilepsy and general medical staff are often hanging out in it.

During the time we were desperately seeking help, a few people said to us “Hopefully it is JUST epilepsy.” Yep sure. Epilepsy is preferable to say a terminal brain tumor, but it is far more sinister than what people perceive.

Although our boy’s seizures look quite subtle, nothing like someone having a tonic-clonic seizure (formally known as Grand Mal), they were incredibly dangerous. He was diagnosed with a form of seizure called Infantile (Epileptic) Spasm. It affects the entire brain and can cause developmental delays and even permanent disability if left unchecked. 

Epilepsy in general can have a massive influence over the lives of those that have it and their families. It is not just the seizures themselves either, it is the disordered sleep, the pure exhaustion, the mood alterations, the side effects of the medications and the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Many aspects of life change when epilepsy steps in.

There was no “just” in his epilepsy diagnosis. Even now, with the seizures under control, the lad’s epilepsy influences many of the decisions we make every day. There is an enormous question mark as to what the future will look like for our boy. We are doing everything in our power to give him the best chance possible (send me a message if you want to know what those things are), but we just can’t know how this is pan out for him.
This Sunday 20th November, we are holding an E-Tea to raise money for Epilepsy Action Australia. We are hoping to raise $500 to help them to continue to provide services to those living with epilepsy and to fund education programs. These services are vital as nearly 800,000 Australians will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some stage in their life.




PS. This was a really difficult blog to write.  We are currently 20 weeks seizure-free but not a day goes by that I don’t worry that the meds will fail. I watched one of the videos with T’s neurologist last week and I am still shaken by it.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

EAT real food


I once had my mind blown at a conference on “birth, breastfeeding and beyond” when one of the speakers asked the audience this question:

What is more important, breastFEEDING or breastMILK?

Wait what?

What the speaker wanted to cover was the idea that the action involved with breastfeeding was just as beneficial - if not more so - as the nutrition supplied by breastmilk.

For an hour and a half we looked at all the ways in which breastfeeding helped with infant development that were not related to the contents of the milk. It was quite amazing and I walked away with more knowledge than I had anticipated; which then triggered some burning questions.

There is a plethora of information out there - websites, books, blogs (like this one), documentaries and podcasts - all focused on nutrition. They primarily describe the content of what you put in your mouth. There are many theories on what you should be eating. They can vary greatly from “legalise all food” advice, to strict diet strategies like GAPS, paleo and raw veganism… and oh so much in between. But what I see very little of, is the importance of actual chewing and eating.

Roast Pork sandwich!


Which brings me to the reason for this blog. Which is more important; WHAT we eat, or that we EAT?

We live a life of convenience. We want quick, we want easy and we want minimal energy involved. What better way to save time and energy, than by taking in food that almost bypasses your mouth? By that I mean, we hardly need to chew most of our modern foods. In the supermarkets you can find myriad prepackaged meals of a uniform, fairly soft consistency that require almost no chewing. It is mostly bite and swallow.

On the other hand, we have the current fads of green smoothies, juice fasts, shake diets and the many versions of liquid meals.

All of this means that most of us are too often missing the important step of physically eating. But there are a number of processes involved in the physicality of eating that impact not only your digestive health, but also your nervous system, brain, and even your emotional wellbeing.

What the act of eating (chewing) does for you:

1. Chewing stimulates the vagus nerve.
Among other things, the vagus nerve connects your brain to your digestive tract. When you chew, you basically prime the rest of your digestive system to do its job of breaking food down, and absorbing nutrients and water into the blood stream.

When you consume something that doesn’t require chewing, it doesn’t give your stomach time to produce enough hydrochloric acid to break down the proteins into amino acids. This then has a flow on effect all through the gastro-intestinal tract.

2. Produces saliva.
Saliva is so much more than the lubricant that helps your food go down. It contains enzymes that begin the digestive process from the moment the food touches your tongue. Skipping this step, even when that food is in liquid form, puts more pressure on the rest of your organs to break food down into usable nutrients.

Saliva also contains minerals that are required to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

The release of saliva is aided by a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of your feel good hormones. It is associated with love, bonding and feelings of wellbeing. The act of eating and chewing can help to make you feel good.

3. Reduces stress.
Digestion requires loads of energy and when we are doing it properly, the body priorities it over other processes. When you take the time to chew your food, the body down-regulates stress hormones, so that some of the blood supply and energy going to your limbs is rerouted for your digestive system to use. Chewing your food can help lower feelings of stress and anxiety.

4. Increases memory and cognitive function.
Studies have shown that taking the time to chew increases stimulation to the parts of the brain that control memory, alertness and executive function. This occurs when pressure is applied to the periodontal ligament. In fact there is even a correlation between the number of teeth a person has and the onset of dementia.

5. It’s like weight-training for your teeth.
You often hear of the benefits of weight bearing exercise on bone health. Using your teeth for their intended purpose of chewing provides the same benefit. The load applied to the teeth helps to keep the join between teeth and jaw, healthy. Without chewing, bone density decreases and teeth can become loose.



I am quite the fan of good soup, a decent smoothie, or even the odd juice. However, I keep in mind that HOW I eat my macros and micros, is really important if I want to be truly healthy.