I’ve recently become ‘one of those people’ who has become interested in (ok, perhaps leaning more towards the obsessed side) essential oils. I just really love the idea that we can replace chemicals around the home with more natural alternatives. Especially bringing a new little person in to the world (we got a pink one for anyone who doesn’t follow me on Facebook or instagram!) I was keen to eliminate as many toxic products as possible, hence jumping on the essential oil bandwagon (much to my husband’s delight!)
Don’t stress, I’m not a complete and utter hippy just yet and here’s why. Recently, my delightful toddler brought home some even more delightful germs from daycare and so lovingly spread them to our two week old daughter. H loves his baby sister so much (which is incredibly heartwarming) he is always wanting to touch, kiss, pat and be around her. B and I are keen to encourage this behaviour as we know transitioning from being an only child to a big brother is a huge change and we don’t want him to resent his little sister. The downside of this is him spreading his germs through his constant contact and Miss H contracted school sores quite badly. We took her to see a doctor who was…. well… useless. She’d never seen this skin issue on such a small baby and offered no reassurance whatsoever. Dr Google and some instagram Mum’s were much more helpful than this medical professional (it took a lot for me not to put professional in inverted commas) and so when she offered to prescribe a cream to treat the sores, I was NOT keen. How can you prescribe a remedy when you don’t even know what the problem is?!
Anyway, after a week or so, the sores healed on their own thank goodness and she’s now back to looking absolutely beautiful with perfectly clear baby skin. I on the other hand, also contracted these delightful sores and they were NOT fun. They cracked every time I ate, laughed or talked, re-opening and not allowing them to heal. Also as I was up doing night feeds, my body didn’t get the chance to rest and recover. I put some essential oils on them but because I didn’t know exactly what skin condition I had, it was really just a guessing game so when they weren’t showing any signs of improving, I decided modern medicine was needed. I went to the doctor (a different one!) who took swabs to test what they were (why didn’t the other doctor do this with Miss H?!) prescribed me a dose of antibiotics and a cream treatment. Sure enough, they healed within just a few days which I was so grateful for and knew it was the right thing to do. I’m now about to start a dose of probiotics to try and heal my gut as I know antibiotics wreak havoc on gut flora, and my doctor was totally on board with this as I know some doctors (and husband’s!!) are skeptical about the benefits of probiotics.
On the other hand, essential oils really do have their place for medical things too. Just last night I had quite uncomfortable stomach pains and cramps . I took some paracetamol before I went to bed and then three or so hours later when Miss H woke for a feed, I noticed they were still there. So once Miss H was happily fed and tucked up in her cradle, I rubbed two drops of an oil blend on my stomach before heading back to bed myself. When she woke a few hours later, I noticed my belly felt completely normal again so think this is an excellent example of when oils beat modern medicine.
I myself often wonder if essential oils have a placebo affect but for mild conditions or issues, I’m all for trying the natural alternatives. When the time comes, I will attempt to aid things like teething or tummy aches with essential oil blends but if need be, will most definitely turn to modern medicine.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on essential oils vs modern medicine. What do you think? Are you up against a skeptical husband or family member too?! Let me know in the comments below or drop me a line on instagram or on my Facebook page!
So this is fun! A foodie blog post that shows we DO still have a life despite having kids and we DO still go out to dinner (occasionally). Sure, it was mid-week and we were home by 7.30pm but we still went out! My blog used to be littered with fabulous places we’d visited and all the amazing food we’d tried yet these days I’m more about toddler recipes and celebrating when H doesn’t throw food across the dining room.
So when I was invited to dine at Louisiana Redclaw in Fortitude Valley by Chef Robert, I was excited by the offer. I brought along my lovely husband, B, a lover of seafood, and he was a very happy man!
We started with a serving of chips – a restaurant staple and so often done very, VERY poorly. We were offered a half and half plate – the sweet potato fries and potato fries. Perfect because B loves ‘normal’ chips and I like the ‘hippy’ sweet potato ones. The potato chips were delicious and coated in a fabulous seasoning – chips don’t normally float my boat but these were great. The sweet potato fries were my favourite (of course) and a must – delicious!
We asked our lovely waitress what Chef Robert would like us to try seeing as we were going to be reviewing, and he sent out chilli soft-shell crab sliders. I can see why these are a crowd favourite, the sauce is delicious and the crab is incredibly generous for a slider. I’m not the hugest soft-shell crab fan so B happily polished half of mine as well as all of his!
For main, we came for their signature Louisiana seafood boil. Something I’d never tried before, a seafood boil is a traditional Louisiana dish that features crustaceans boiled in fragrant broth with corn, potato and sausage. We enjoyed the Louisiana Redclaw classic platter with Red Claw Signature Zing sauce – spiced medium. It. Was. HUGE.
Packed full of clams, mussels, crayfish, snow crab and colossal prawns, the platter was heaving with seafood. Everything was incredibly fresh and very good quality. Too often seafood platters have average seafood but you can tell the Redclaw team are passionate about fresh and the best possible quality. My favourite was definitely the prawns and B couldn’t get enough of the crayfish. You need the bread to mop up that delicious sauce – it was garlicky without being overpowering and spicy without leaving a lasting burn – a fine balance which Chef Robert absolutely nails. I don’t think the chilli jam was necessary on the side of the bread because the sauce in the platter was so damn good! I’d have loved more sausage in the broth, it was really good and I accidentally ate both pieces, leaving none for B to try!
The bibs and gloves are a fun addition to dinner but also very necessary! Note, do NOT wear white when you visit!!
We had an absolutely terrific meal, the staff were very friendly and attentive and the kitchen features a chef who understands balance of flavours and the importance of fresh, delicious seafood. It’s not a cheap place but you pay for quality and quality is certainly what you get. It’s a great restaurant with a unique-to-Brisbane foodie experience and one I can highly recommend.
Our meal was courtesy of Louisiana Redclaw. Thank you to the team for having us!
Dinner time at our house has become a bit of a challenge. H sometimes eats everything on his plate and the next day he’ll chuck what I thought was his favourite meal all over the floor (usually on the day our cleaner has come – drives me up the wall. And yes, I realise this is a massive #firstworldproblem!) Sometimes he goes to bed with a full tummy, other nights he won’t eat a scrap of dinner. So when I find a meal he loves (and happily eats more than once), I am STOKED and am often shouting about it on my insta – this is one of those times.
Lasagna cups – yes, I could just serve ‘normal’ lasagna but sometimes I like to mix it up for H and get him excited about a new meal. Lasagna is also a perfect meal to sneak in loads of hidden veges (even if he always manages to find the spinach and pick it out, “Yucky ‘pinach. Yucky!”)
Vege packed lasagna cups Makes approximately 12 lasagna cups
What you’ll need… for the mince 2 x tsp olive oil
1 x brown onion, finely diced
2 x cloves garlic, crushed
250g x beef mince
1 x carrot, grated
1 x zucchini, grated
2 x cups spinach, roughly chopped (you can use whatever veges you have on hand)
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
1 x tbsp tomato paste
2 x tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
200ml water (optional)
for the cheese mix 250g x ricotta cheese
1 x egg
everything else 1 x pkt fresh lasagna sheets (I used Latina brand)
½ x cup parmesan, grated
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In a frypan, heat your oil then add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the mince and break up any lumps, cooking till brown. Add the carrot and zucchini and cook for a few minutes. Add the spinach, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper and allow to simmer for around 30mins (longer is better but not essential). Add splashes of water if the mixture starts to dry out – usually only if you’re cooking your mixture for a long period of time.
Preheat your oven to 180o. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and egg. Grease your muffin tins with spray oil if you’re not using silicon molds. Cut each lasagna sheet in half and gently press into muffin tins to form a cup. Place beef mixture in to the lasagna cup, top with a spoonful of ricotta mix and sprinkle with parmesan. You can trim the edges of the lasagna cups if you like, or just spritz with a little spray oil as they will go crispy in the oven.
Bake in moderate oven for around 15-25mins, depending on your oven – just until the cheese has melted and the lasagna sheets have crispened up.
Serve with a little side salad – delish!
These can also be frozen so make in bulk and keep some handy in freezer for those nights when you just can’t be bothered for you AND your kids!
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Let me know if you make this recipe and if your little person likes them too! Tag me on instagram@lifelovetravelfood if you do try them! Also, if you have any foodie requests, drop me an email email@example.com or leave me a comment below.
I love breakfast but it wasn’t always like that. I used to eat the same thing every day (often cereals I thought were healthy but were actually full of sugar and evil little additives) and found it SO boring. Slowly but surely, I’ve introduced new, delicious recipes into my morning routine and now, it’s by far my favourite meal of the day.
This recipe was inspired by Sarah’s Day – a YouTuber who I’m a little bit obsessed with. It’s chocolately (let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast?!) fills you up and it’s healthy! So here’s my new breakfast fav for you all to try.
What you need… * 500g raw buckwheat kernels (see note) * 1 cup raw nuts – almonds, macadamias, cashews, walnuts
* 1/4 cup dried fruit – apricots, low-sugar cranberries, sultanas
* 1/2 cup mixed seeds – pepitas and sunflower
* 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
* 1 cup coconut chips or shredded coconut
* 2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/3 cup rice malt syrup
Now what… Pre-heat oven to 180o. Place buckwheat kernels on a tray covered with baking paper, and roast for around 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop your nuts and fruit then place into a large bowl. Add the seeds, cacao, coconut and cinnamon. Add the cooked buckwheat and stir everything together until well combined.
Drizzle over the rice malt syrup and mix well. Give it a taste and add more syrup if you think it needs to be sweeter (keeping in mind you have the dried fruit and will probably serve your granola with berries or banana).
Place the mixture on two lined baking trays and spread out evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes (be careful not to burn it) then allow to cool completely before placing into an airtight container and store in the pantry.
Serve with milk (I love almond or coconut milk) or yogurt (or even better, coconut yogurt) and fresh berries or banana. YUM!
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If you make my current breakfast obsession (that I will admit, I ate for lunch and dinner two days in a row!) please let me know, I’d love to see your creations! Tag me @lifelovetravelfood#lifelovetravelfood
Note: I buy my buckwheat kernels from Woolworths – it’s the cheapest price per 100g that I’ve found so far AND it’s organic! Win.
This blog is a little more serious than most of my food-filled, toddler-story blogs but it’s something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now.
As many of you already know, we are incredibly excited and lucky to be pregnant with baby #2, due in July 2018. What many people DON’T know is that in late 2017, we lost a baby. If this is a topic that is too personal or upsetting for you, please stop reading now – I do not want to cause any upset for anyone, this is just my way of coping with losing our baby.
When we made the decision to start trying for our second baby, we were thrilled to discover we’d fallen pregnant straight away. Amazing! All was going well until one day, it just wasn’t.
I was at work and started to bleed. I tried not to panic, immediately messaged my sisters and asked if this had happened to them. They were my rocks, tried to reassure me but mine was quite heavy so deep down, I knew something was very wrong. To be honest, I should have gone home but I tried to make the situation as normal as possible so as to not freak myself out about it.
I continued to bleed through the day and in my heart of hearts, knew I’d lost the baby. To make matters worse, B was working away so I had to go to the doctor’s on my own and that was REALLY tough. My parents and sisters were amazing – they gave me so much support, as did B who cut his work trip short to get back as soon as he could.
The doctor told me it was likely that I had miscarried but would need a scan to confirm it. So my Mum came with me (there was no way I was going alone) and they couldn’t see anything. They tried to reassure me that because I was early on, it didn’t necessarily mean the baby wasn’t there, but I knew Baby Bun (the nickname we’d given to bubba) was gone.
It was hard. REALLY hard. It still is. It’s incredibly difficult to explain how you can be so attached to someone you’ve never met, and who you’ve only known about for a few short weeks. But that was our baby. A little person we created and he or she was gone in the blink of an eye. I immediately started to think about all the things I did wrong and what I could have done better. Was it the feta I ate in my salad or the drinks I had on our anniversary dinner when we didn’t know we were pregnant. But you can’t blame yourself and should never, EVER beat yourself up over losing a baby because it’s just natures way of saying, this wasn’t our baby. This wasn’t out time.
It took me a good few weeks to feel ok about it all and to ‘move on’ (which sounds incredibly cold) but I knew my body had told me this wasn’t right and our baby was still waiting for us.
One in four women will experience a miscarriage in their life but that doesn’t make it any easier. As part of my grieving process, I felt it was important for me to write about losing our baby but that’s very personal to me – I enjoy writing and feel it helps me create beautiful memories and ensure that Baby Bun will never be forgotten.
The next steps in our story are a lot brighter. When I felt ready, we decided to try again and were truly amazed that we fell pregnant very soon after. We are expecting baby #2 in July this year and I normally stay away from this phrase but feel we are so, SO blessed, grateful and happy. I am not taking anything for granted and trying to enjoy every moment of this pregnancy (which at times can be VERY hard!) because I realise how incredibly lucky we are. Not everyone is this lucky so we are counting our lucky stars.
So that’s the story of our Baby Bun and why Baby M #2 is our special little rainbow baby. Never forgotten, always in our hearts.
A recipe by request and this is one I’m more than happy to share. In high school, chocolate brownies were my signature dish. I made them so often, I got seriously sick of them and even back then, the amount of sugar and butter in them made me feel a bit ill!
Enter the sweet potato brownie – vegan, dairy-free, wheat-free (can be gluten-free too) egg-free and refined sugar free. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it… to give you an example, I made these for my Dad, brother-in-law and husband, and didn’t tell them what was in them until AFTER they all declared they liked them. And I promise you, none of them sugar-coat their feelings about my healthy cooking – they can all be BRUTALLY honest! So let’s get to it – if you make them, please let me know and tag me on Facebook or instagram cause I’d LOVE to get your feedback!
What you’ll need…
* 500g sweet potatoes (about two medium)
* 20 dried, pitted dates (or 12 medjool dates)
* 100g ground almonds
* 100g oats (use gluten-free oats for a fully gluten-free brownie)
* 6 tbsp x raw cacao powder
* 2 tbsp x melted coconut oil
* 3 tbsp x pure maple syrup
* a pinch of salt
for the icing…
* 2 tbsp x coconut oil
* 2 tbsp x almond butter (or pure peanut butter)
* 2 tbsp x maple syrup
* 2 tbsp x cacao powder
Pre-heat oven to 180oC (fan forced). Peel and chop the sweet potato into chunks and place in a steamer to cook for around 15-20 minutes or until really soft.
If using dried dates, soak in boiling water for 10 minutes then drain and discard the liquid.
Once the sweet potato is cooked, add to a food processor along with the dates and blitz to combine. Add the remaining brownie ingredients and blitz again until well combined (mostly so the oats have combined well).
Place into a lined baking pan and cook for about 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Check them after 35 minutes as you don’t want to overcook them.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about ten minutes – don’t skip this step because the brownies need time to cool and stick together.
While the brownies are cooling, make the icing by simply melting the ingredients in the microwave and stirring well to combine. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then into the fridge for a further 15 minutes to firm up.
Remove the brownies from the pan and leave to cool completely before icing. Spread the icing on top, cut into squares and try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.
* This recipe is originally by Deliciously Ella – I have just amended the recipe as I found the original too sweet but I definitely cannot take credit for these amazing beauties!
I am a label addict. I love my brands. Not clothes, shoes or handbags (although I wouldn’t say no to some genuine LV luggage or a Chloe handbag if one was on offer). Grocery labels. Yeah, my early twenties-me would be disgusted that I now spend more time perusing the back of tins than I do flicking through Vogue (of which I’ve had a copy on my coffee table for three months and haven’t even opened it).
Picture this – you decide to be amazing and make something from scratch so you know exactly what’s in it… until you realise all your so called natural ingredients are full of additives, stabilisers, sugar, salt and other random things. It kind of makes you wonder why you bothered cooking from scratch in the first place! Grocery shopping can be expensive and labels are SO confusing so it pays to know what you’re looking for when trying to eat healthy.
I have been a label addict for years now so I know which brands I love and which ones make me angry. Almond milk, for example, is one of the most overly processed things out there and often contains more added sugar than almonds – whaaaat?! I’m so passionate about it, once I even had a disagreement with a very snotty barista , who took offence when I asked what almond milk they used and it was a brand I didn’t like. But that’s a story for another time. And he was very rude by the way!
So, I’m here to give you just some of my favourite pantry brands and for the record, I am NOT getting paid by these brands (I WISH). I’m recommending these because I have done my research and read the labels to find the best, most natural options out there for a healthier, happier pantry.
Apologies some of the pictures are really small but if you want to read the labels in more detail, just click on the photo.
Oh and here’s some motivation to keep on reading, I’ve got a discount code for you at the end for one of my favourite brands 🙂
Tinned tomatoes – Annalisa: This is a pantry must-have for me. I am NEVER without a few tins in my pantry! Frustratingly, I have not found an Aussie brand that doesn’t contain salt, sugar or some kind of preservative so, I choose Annalisa and the best part about these is they often come on special so I stock up when they do!
Tomato paste – Leggo’s or Aldi organic: This should be 100% tomatoes. Nothing else. The brands I choose are Leggo’s ‘no added salt’ or Aldi’s organic range. Aldi features a lot in this post. Aldi is coming up with the goods!
Coconut milk and cream – Ayam: This is one of my absolute favourite brands. Just coconut and water – as it should be. I will admit, it is expensive, and have recently discovered the Homebrand version is just as good so I may be converted! And just for the record, I prefer to buy the full-fat version of coconut milk and cream – otherwise you’re just paying for more water! One negative on the Aldi front… I bought their coconut milk and cream and to be honest, I found the taste really awful. They’re good on the ingredients but not so much on taste.
Curry paste – Ayam: I wish I could say I always make my own curry paste. I know it tastes SO much better when I do, but honestly, I do NOT have the time! So, my brand of choice is again, Ayam. I can pronounce and understand all the ingredients, it does contain some palm oil and a little sugar, but all the other ingredients are herbs and spices and genuine curry paste ingredients, so I’m ok with that.
Noodles – Pandaroo: These brown rice noodles (I can only find them at Woolworths in the Asian section) are my favourite! 100% brown rice – how good is that?! I’ve recently discovered black bean noodles and sweet potato noodles – I just love when there’s only one ingredient!
Peanut butter – Sanitarium natural peanut butter: Step AWAY from the nasty peanut butters! Ugh, there are SO many additives in ‘regular’ peanut butter! Especially sugar – yuck! I make my own, however Sanitarium does a great 100% peanuts version. Yes, that’s all peanut butter should be! It’s usually found in the health food section, if it’s not with all the other disgusting sugar-salt-chemical filled spreads!
Coconut water / poppers– H2Coco: I love coconut water for smoothies and rehydrating if I’ve had… umm… a few too many drinks the night before. My
go-to brand is H2Coco, because it’s 100% coconut water and it tastes delicious. They also have flavoured varieties which are great if you like things a little sweeter (I’m not a massive fan, personally) again, all natural and no additives. I am lucky enough to be a brand ambassador for H2Coco but I PROMISE you, I was a fan before we started collaborating.
If you’re looking for kids juices/poppers for lunch boxes, H2Coco has just brought out a lunchbox range. I would never, and will never, promote something I don’t believe is good for my son, so I am happy to spruke their poppers range. H LOVES the H2Melonwater one (100% watermelon juice) and the little coconut water poppers. My personal favourite is the coffee coconut water, and for all you chocolate lovers out there, there’s a healthy chocolate one too – tastes like chocolate milk without the tummy ache afterwards!
Desiccated coconut – Aldi: Not exactly something you’d think you need to read the label of! But most supermarket brands have additives in them so I was thrilled to discover the Aldi brand doesn’t! It’s always in a bit of an obscure place, not with the flours and sugars – I usually find it on top of the freezer section.
Yogurt – Farmer’s Union or Tamar Valley: I’m a big advocate for buying plain, Greek yogurt and adding your own fruit/flavours too. Sugar is WAY too high up on the flavoured yogurt ingredient list for my liking. And this way, you’re not committing yourself to 1kg of one flavour! Add some pure vanilla, berries, banana, fresh mango – endless options and much healthier choices. The brands I’m recommending are my favourite for ingredients AND taste. Oh, and buy full cream – low-fat has nasty added sugar and natural yogurt is often very tart and not as enjoyable (but that’s my opinion!) I have recently started making my own yogurt and my clever friend T taught me how to make it without having to use the yogurt makers own packet mix so it’s cheaper and healthier – win!
Breadcrumbs: Let’s be real here. It’s just bread, blitzed up. Well, it SHOULD be. Have you ever read the ingredients for store-bought breadcrumbs? Some isn’t even vegetarian which is incredibly concerning! Take five minutes (not even) out of your day and blitz old bread in your food processor and chuck this into a zip lock bag in your freezer. Breadcrumbs on hand 24/7. Or, use oats! Oats make a great binder too.
Microwave packet rice: The convenience of rice cooked in 90 seconds is incredibly appealing. There are brands out there that are 100% rice (although most have stabilisers and salt in them), however for the amount you get in a packet, they’re expensive! So, next time you make rice for your curry, make double and once cooled, freeze it in a zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When meal time comes, break off enough for your meal into a bowl, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil (I do this with brown rice as it can get a little dry) and zap for 60-90 seconds in the microwave. Done!
Rice malt syrup – Pure Harvest: Probably one of my favourite supermarket brands. I LOVE their products (not sponsored, I swear!) because they’re all natural. When I discovered rice malt syrup, it revolutionised my cooking and my health. I substitute it in baking for golden syrup. I put it in baking instead of sugar (and use about 1/3 of the amount of sweetener). It is amazing.
Nut milks – Pure Harvest: I have nothing against dairy or cows milk. I buy it for my husband and for H (I never buy supermarket-branded milk as the farmer’s get more money from sales on the branded milks) however for me, it leaves me a little bloated and uncomfortable. So, I jumped on the nut milk bandwagon a good five years ago and throughout this time, have trialed a LOT of bad products. My preference is almond milk, but I also buy coconut milk as it’s delicious in my greeñacolda smoothie (I’ve linked the recipe here for you!)
As I mentioned above, SO many brands are one or two per cent nuts, they have added sweeteners, preservatives and other rubbish. Sure, it’s best to make your own but I do NOT have the time, patience or $$ for that! So my favourite for both coconut and almond milk is Pure Harvest. Yes, it has a little organic rice syrup in it (they do have an unsweetened almond milk, but it has less almonds in it… I don’t understand why!) but it has the most almonds and I can understand all the ingredients!
A few more tips…
* If sugar is high on the ingredients list, avoid it!
* If you can’t pronounce or understand most of the ingredients, don’t eat it.
* For the majority of your shop, try to stick to the outside of the supermarket – fish, meat, fruit, vege etc
* Stock up on your favourite brands when they’re are on special – I have a slight obsession when it comes to this one. To the point that when rice malt syrup was half price one week, B had to physically show me my ‘collection’ in my pantry and explain that I already had a six to 12-month supply and it would surely come on special again closer to when I run out.
* Fancy trying the H2coco range? You can get 25% off from h2coco.com.au by using my discount code ‘H2lunchbox’ – you’re welcome, enjoy and you can thank me later!
This is by no means a complete list so if you have any questions about what other brands I recommend for your favourite foods, drop me a message below, I would LOVE to chat pantries (had to make sure I didn’t forget the ‘r’ in that one!!) with you!