Perfect Slow Cooked Meat

Uncategorized

  
I absolutely love my slow cooker. In fact, it’s the most used kitchen appliance in our house. I use it for just about everything, and it’s my not-so-secret weapon in making flavour packed meats. 

The secret is in the seasoning and in the amount of liquid you use. So let me give you a run down of how I do it. 

I start with a piece of roasting meat, or whole boneless chicken pieces and I rub them in seasonings. Then I put them in the slow cooker (no I don’t seare the meat in a fry pan, tried it a few times and didn’t do anything to the end result) and then I place 1 or 2 cups of liquid, depending on the size of the meat (1kg=1 cup). I cook the meat (pork, beef, or lamb) on low heat for 7-8 hours and then I ‘pull’ the meat apart and leave it rest in the slow cooker for another 30 minutes. If I’m cooking chicken I put it on low heat for a max of 6 hours, after that amount of time it gets floury and mushy. 

Liquid choices: red wine and beef broth, tomato purée and beef (or chicken) broth, beef or chicken broth. Never use just plain water…tasteless. 

Seasoning choices: there are sooooo many, you can literally use anything that will compliment the meat that you’re using, just make sure you rub it all over your meat before putting it in the slow cooker. 

Beef: 

  • Mexican Chilli (pictured above)**1 Tablepoon cacao, 2 teaspoons chilli, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of each-oregano, cumin, allspice. Use tomato purée and beef broth as liquid. 
  • Greek inspired- 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of each-Rosemary, thyme, sage, cinnamon. Use tomato purée and beef broth with 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. 
  • Moroccan inspired- 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons of each-cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion flakes. Use tomato purée and beef broth as the liquid. 

Pork:

  • 1 Tablespoon of each-cumin, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of each-salt, coriander, pepper, cayenne pepper. Use 1/2 cup each of lemon juice and lime juice and chicken broth (or pork if you have) as the liquid. 
  • Classic pulled pork: 1 teaspoon of each-chilli (or to taste), onion flakes, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper. Use chicken broth (or pork if you have) as the liquid. 

Chicken:

  • 1 teaspoon of each-salt, ginger, garlic powder, cayenne pepper. Use 1 cup pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative), and 1/4 cup coconut oil. 
  • 1 Tablespoon of each-cumin, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of each-salt, coriander, pepper, cayenne pepper. Use 1/2 cup each of lemon juice and lime juice and chicken broth as the liquid. 

What are some of your favourite flavour combinations? 

Yours in Health and Happiness 

Jess xx

Print Friendly

Should We Really Eat That?

Uncategorized


It’s true. You only have to ask your grandparents (I’m not suggesting they are 100 years old) what they ate growing up and what they had for school lunches. You’ll hear things like, “homemade bread, homegrown vegetables, meat, chicken, eggs, the occasional homemade cake or biscuits, oatmeal, fresh milk,’ well that’s what my Nan said. If your older, like I am, you’ll even remember that everything in your house was homemade from fresh or home grown produce (at one point we had a farm and cows to milk every morning, thanks Mum), and the weekly sweet popped in your lunch box was an Anzac biscuit or if we were really lucky some chocolate slice.

Fast forward 20 years and take a look at what fills most homes and children’s lunch boxes (I’m a teacher so I get the privilege of seeing inside lunch boxes).   (Image from the AdditiveFreePantry.com) For some children, convenience food has take the place of homemade food and children, as well as most adults, are eating ‘occasional’ food daily…and sometimes multiple times a day (a packet of tiny teddies and a sugar loaded muesli bar at morning tea and a packet of chips at lunch time). The problem with all of these ‘convenience’ foods is that they are loaded with sugar, salt, preservatives and additives. I can tell you that God did not make, or intended for you to eat, preservative 282 (calcium propionate), which you will find in some baked products and pasta. It’s derived from petroleum and can cause developmental delays, headaches and migrations, irritability, learning difficulties, neurological problems, sleep disturbance and is prohibited for use in infant foods. There many more preservatives and additives that are just as harmful, this one is common that’s why I selected it. This is not what we should be eating or feeding our children.

Remember in 1 Corinthians 6:12 Paul tells us that “everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.” Foods that are made in factories are not what are beneficial for us, these types of foods can make us sick, encourage disease, shorten our life-span and our quality of life…does this sound like it’s God’s plan?

Can I encourage you, if you don’t do so already, to love yourself enough to care about the foods you put on your plate, the foods you put on the plates (and lunch boxes) of your family. Let’s create healthy families, body, mind and spirit.

Your in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

Print Friendly

Having an Attitude of Gratitude 

Uncategorized

 

“stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening.”  1 Chronicles 23:30 NKJV

No matter what is going on in my life, I start each day giving thanks for all that I have and for the things to come. I speak from experience when I say that my days are so much happier now that I do this. Don’t get me wrong, life is still stressful and there are times when the demands on me and my time are completely overwhelming, but starting and finishing the day with a thankful heart (you need to voice it, speak it aloud) has really has changed my life. I don’t let the daily stresses get on top of me, I can only put it down to being content with all that I have, secure in who I am, and completely thankful for all of the life experiences/situations that God has brought me through.

When we focus on all of the things we have, it distracts our attention from all of the ‘things’ we don’t. I might not have the nicest house on the block, but thank God we have a house to live in with power and water. I might not drive the newest car, but thank God I have a car to drive. When our boys are stressing me out with their mess and noise, I have trained myself to be thankful for having healthy, happy, energetic sons…before long they will no longer be in our home and I’m going to enjoy them…noise, mess, smells and all.

What if you got every single thing you prayed for, asked for? Do you really think you would be happy? Would you be thankful? Would you appreciate those things?

I’m incredibly thankful that I don’t have all the things I’ve prayed for, that I’ve desired. See, last year I felt sure that I was leaving teaching behind and was going to enter into something else.  I prayed, I fasted, I prayed, I felt so sure that this was the right path. It turned that I was way off and this path got a big fat NO, I then looked for a way around my obstacle and tried to do it someone else’s way. Big mistake, but a lesson definitely learned. Now that I look back at this path that I so desired, all I can think is, ‘Thank You God…that would’ve been the worse possible path for me and the stress involved would’ve/could’ve turned me into a completely different person’. At the time, I was crushed. Now, I’m so thankful that it didn’t come to pass.

I often wonder what would happen if we woke up today with only the things we were thankful for yesterday…

Being thankful, having an attitude of gratitude, makes you a happier person. If it’s not a daily practice for you already, try it. Make a decision to get up a little earlier and spend 5 minutes being thankful for all that you have, remember you need to speak it aloud. Before you go to bed, or while you’re in the shower, spend 5 minutes being grateful for all of the things that happened in your day. Do it for a week and watch your attitude shift. Let me know how it goes :)

Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

Print Friendly

Doing As We Are Told

Uncategorized

untitled

I shared this message with my church a few months ago, it can be related to any area of our lives.  We think that when we become ‘grown ups’ we can do whatever we want to do (well my kids seem to think that this is the ultimate goal of becoming an adult), I tried doing this for a while, it didn’t last long, life did not go well.

IF you love me, do as I have told you to do…

Message Version – John 14: 15 ‘If you love me, show me by doing what I’ve told you.’

Show me by doing what I asked you to do…If you love me you will do as your told….Parents, you’ve said this once or twice before? Many times before I’m guessing.

“Please clean your room, eat your vegetables, why won’t you just do as you’re told? I’m telling you this for your own good.” I imagine that this is how God speaks and feels when we’ve missed the mark. When we haven’t done as we’ve been told, when we think we know better. The truth is that whatever He is asking us/telling us to do, then He’s telling us for our own good. He wants us to live our best life.

This week I was being tortured working out  with Kay and he kept telling me not to get off the stair monster, I was trying really hard to do what he was telling me to do. It hurt, I really wanted to stop, every time I stopped he would shake his head and say, “Come on Jess get back on.” I would just shake my head, thinking ‘I’m a 38 year-old woman, if I don’t want to get back on that machine then I’m not getting back on it, you can’t tell me what to do’ (picturing myself having a full blown 2 year-old tantrum right there in the front of the gym).

You see I want change, and I knew that if I really want this change to happen then I would have to listen to Kay and get back on that stair monster and get it done. I was in pain, my legs felt like they couldn’t take another step. But I knew I had to push on, keep going. It’s for my OWN good.

There are many time in life when sometimes we have to stretch, but we have to push on and keep doing it. It is for our own good!

Friends, can I encourage you to push on, to listen that “funny feeling inside your chest”, or a thought that suddenly pops into your head, follow that, do that, see what happens.

Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

Print Friendly

Comparison IS the Stealer of Our Joy

Uncategorized

 I have compared myself to others for as long as I can remember, in good ways and in destructive ways.  This year I’ve been doing a lot of study on ‘who I am’ and I have finally seen comparison for all its joy stealing worth.

I would go for a run down at our local Gooseponds and I would see a vast mix of people down there working out or walking their dogs.  Serious runners (oh God, why can’t I run like them?), skinny toned power-walkers (oh God, why can’t I be skinny and toned like them?), elderly people walking their dogs (oh God, I can’t wait to be old and not have a houseful of dirty dishes, dirty clothes and noisy boys), and then people like me (you go girl! you should be so proud of yourself!).  I would do a lap or two and be so focused on the other people that I would finish my run and feel terrible, instead of finishing with the ‘runners high’ I was finishing with the ‘comparison downer’. My runs (or walks most days) are no longer like this, I have finally stopped and learnt to focus on me and who God made me to be.

When we compare ourselves and our circumstances to others we are robbing ourselves of the joy and the emotions of being us.  We are not meant to live a life of comparison,  “I wish I was…”, you’re wishing your life away…I know…I’ve done it too, I no longer do that (thankfully). “I want to be more like….”, You were born you, there is no other you and nor will there ever be…so enjoy all of the things that make you YOU. Enjoy the foods you eat, the way you walk, the way you speak, the way you love others, the way others love you, the way you move, the (positive) thoughts you have.  When you learn to enjoy yourself more you will all of a sudden enjoy life more, and the people in your life more.

Life is full of ups and downs, that’s just the way it goes (unfortunately), but the lessons we learn in the down times help us really enjoy the good times and give us a greater strength then we had before.

Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx 

 

Print Friendly

Paleo Butter Chicken

Uncategorized

Paleo Butter Chicken

I love the cooler weather, it means I get to cook a lot stews and casseroles and curries.  The kids love this Butter Chicken, it’s one of my go-to meals lately.  Mostly because it’s a crowd pleaser and it’s filling (and I can make it at lunch time and re-heat it for dinner on busy days).

Paleo Butter Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Paleo
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 800g diced chicken thighs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 125g ghee
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon powdered star anise
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 400g crushed tomatoes, pureed in the blender
  • 100g tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1¼ cup nut/seed meal (I used cashew as the taste is perfect with curries)
  • 300ml coconut cream
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add the chicken, salt, chilli, 1 teaspoon garam masala, turmeric, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 clove of crushed garlic, and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Let the chicken sit in the spice mix for 1-2 hours (if possible, not necessary).
  2. Heat a large pot, or wok, over a medium heat and melt a little of ghee. Add the chicken and spices and cook until the chicken is brown.
  3. Add the sliced onion, remaining ghee, cinnamon, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, cardamom, star anise, cumin, smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garam masala and stir until the ghee is fully melted and the pot becomes fragrant (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste and apple cider vinegar to the pot and stir in gently.
  5. Stir the coconut cream and nut meal through the mixture and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with cauliflower rice. Enjoy!

 Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

Print Friendly

Cinnamon (and Jam) Scrolls

Recipes, Uncategorized

I love these scrolls, they are really pretty simple to make and hey, if I can make them anyone can.  There are a few variations that can be made with these…like substituting the cinnamon for jam, or hazelnut chocolate spread…also try leaving the sweetener out of the dough and make them savoury by using tomato puree and cheese (if you have cheese) and ham.

Cinnamon and Jam Scrolls (6)

Cinnamon (and Jam) Scrolls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Paleo Sweets
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup psyllium husk flour (pop in a blender until flour consistency)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (leave out if making savoury scrolls)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons Xylitol (or any sweetener you choose)
  • Jam/Cinnamon/Coconut butter/Chocolate Coconut Butter for spreading
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to a moderate heat (180 degrees Celsius).
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients for the dough, add the wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb the moisture and thicken slightly.
  4. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on the bench, approximately 30cm x 30m.
  5. Place the dough on the plastic wrap and press it out to make a large rectangle shape (see photos in this post).
  6. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon (or spread).
  7. Grab the corners of the plastic wrap and lift, slightly pulling the dough backwards (this is how you will roll it, see pictures).
  8. Once you have continued to lift and roll, you will have a log scroll (which you could bake at this time and have a log scroll).
  9. Slice the scroll into 3-5cm sections and place on a lined baking tray.
  10. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Cinnamon and Jam Scrolls (1)

The dough should be at this consistency when pressing it on to the plastic wrap.

Cinnamon and Jam Scrolls (2)

Rectangle shape the dough should make.

Cinnamon and Jam Scrolls (4)

Grab the edges of the plastic wrap and lift and roll backwards. Continue to do this until you have it all rolled up.

Cinnamon and Jam Scrolls (5)

All rolled up.

Print Friendly

Chia Pods

Recipes, Uncategorized

Chia Pods (1)

Chia pods are so simple to make, they can be made with any milks to suit any type of dietary need.  I love using a combination of coconut milk and cashew milk….yum! And I really like soaking them overnight, I love the thickness that overnight soaking produces.

Chia Pods (2)

I love berries with my chia pods in the morning.

Chia Pods (3)

The kids love theirs with a swirl of organic maple syrup.

Chia Pods
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Paleo Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup of nut milk (I love cashew)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Mesquite powder (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon of sweetener (optional, or ⅓ dropper of liquid stevia)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk.
  2. Let the mixture sit on the bench for 5 minutes and whisk again, repeat after another 5 minutes.
  3. After the third whisking (this avoids clumps and makes sure that the mixture is fully combined) place the bowl in the refrigerator, covered.
  4. Chia pods are ready to be eaten within 30 minutes, but overnight soaking produces a thicker consistency.
  5. You can add fruit puree, a mashed banana, maple syrup or whatever flavour combos you like.

Print Friendly

Language Development and Your Child

Kids' Stuff, Uncategorized

 

School starts tomorrow, and that means William’s first day of Kindergarten. At the beginning of 2014 William began to show signs of having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), his speech and his social skills were the biggest concerns for Paul and I. As a teacher, I knew that I needed to pick up the pace of William’s speech and language development. I drew on my ESL (English as a Second Language) Language Coaching training and started picking up the pace of William’s language development. At first it was slow, but after seven months he was speaking with more words in sentences and I was beginning to understand what he was trying to communicate. Now, twelve months later, I can’t stop him from talking and he speaks with words that completely blow my mind.

As a classroom teacher I have children every year (in grade three) that have limited vocabulary, they are not children on the Autism Spectrum or children with learning difficulties. Language development is not as easy as most of you may think, it’s not something that just comes to you. I thought I’d pen a post about language development and how you can help your child create a solid literacy base.

Learning a language is hard (have you tried to learn a new language?), even if that language is your first language (aka mother language). Most parents get so excited when they hear their baby speak their first words. However, few parents put conscious effort into language development past those first few words. Most parents think that speech and language just happens, it just develops on its own.

For children, especially children with ASD or any learning disorder that impairs speech and language development, it is imperative that they are surrounded by rich, correctly articulated language. That involves some effort on the parents’ part. Yes, we are their best role model for language development. The best times to ‘work’ on developing or extending your child’s language skills are during every day experiences. You don’t need to go and purchase special toys, or apps for the iPad. You just need to spend time talking with your child. No conversation is ever wasted, I have had some fantastic language ‘sessions’ with William about a spider in a web, or a crumb that the ant is carrying back to feed its family. It’s not the topic that matters, it’s the language associated with the conversation. For example:

Child: staring at a spider in a web “Spider”

Parent: “Yes that’s right, there is a spider. The spider is in a web.” point to the web

Child: “Web, spider in a web.”

Parent: “Can you see the sparkles on the spider’s web?”

Child: “See sparkles in the spider web.”

Parent: “The spider will catch its food in the web.”

And so on…the point is that the parent models full sentences with correct articulation and the child will often copy what you say, and as their language skills develop further they will add their own thoughts to the conversation. Would I use words that the child doesn’t know the meaning of? Yes, how else will they learn the meaning of the word and the correct context in which that word is used?

Keep your communication genuine and real, where both you and your child are taking turns in talking. This helps them to understand that having a conversation with someone is about talking, listening, pausing, responding and not just about the words we speak.

IMG_3543.JPGThis image is a perfect example: William and I will play and we will talk about what he is doing.  Our conversations flows freely and goes in any direction he wants it to go in.  Our language gets built upon each time we ‘play’.  

A strong oral language forms the foundation for literacy development and success in schooling. To build this strong foundation in oral language the parents will need to model/use rich language that has been articulated correctly.

Articulating words correctly is so important, I don’t know how many times I have to correct ‘I should of gone to the shop’. You model language to your child, they copy what you say, if you say it correctly then there is less to correct later on. If your child says something incorrectly, gently correct them. If a mistake goes unchecked, your child will think it is correct and then keep making the mistake.

What does rich language mean?? Language with a lot of money? No, obviously, but it is similar. It is language that has a lot going for it. Rich language is dense, it has adjectives and adverbs, it ‘paints a picture’ in the mind of the listener (or reader). It has a lot of description in a small amount of words. Modelling this language includes saying the same idea (the girl ran) in a few ways using language that expands on the idea (the girl in the red dress ran fast), adding new words in order to stretch your child’s vocabulary. Keep this language at and slightly above your child’s level, steadily becoming more complex as your child’s language develops.

And read to your child…every single day…read read read! Picture books that create extended conversation are perfect! Occasionally point to the text as you read it, this helps the child to understand that you are reading words from the page.

 

I hope this helps some of you,

Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

 

Print Friendly

Avocado Icy-Pops

Recipes, Uncategorized

IMG_1965

I had an abundance of avocados a little while back, about 15 avocados all ripe at the same time.  Now I love avocados on and in everything but I was sooooo ready to find a new way of having them.  I’ve made icy pops with avocado before (I just make a big smoothie and freeze them in icy pop trays), so I played around with this a little and came up with this.  Was totally yummy!!

Avocado Icy-Pops
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Paleo Sweets
Serves: 6 icy pops
Ingredients
  • 2 small avocados
  • 270ml coconut cream
  • 20 drops (1/4 dropper) of liquid stevia (or you could use honey/maple)
  • 1 Tablespoon cacao (for the chocolate layer)
Instructions
  1. Blend all the ingredients, excluding the cacao, in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into cupcake moulds, filling two-thirds the mould (leaving the rest for the chocolate). Reserve one-third of the mixture in the blender.
  3. Place in the freezer.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of cacao to the remaining avocado mixture and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the chocolate avocado mixture over the semi-frozen 'green' layer, place back in the freezer until set hard.

 Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

Print Friendly