Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good Food Friday Treats :: Fetta and Pumpkin Muffins

As soon as I saw this awesome muffin recipe on 101 cookbooks, I was itching to make them. I'm totally in love with fetta, and the combination with roast pumpkin is delicious. These are the perfect addition to this weekend's picnic basket.

Fetta and Pumpkin Muffins
Olive oil to drizzle and prepare muffin tins
2 cups pumpkin chopped into 1-2cm cubes
200 gms of fetta
100 gms parmesan cheese
3 tbs of pine nuts
4-5 springs of thyme
2 tbs seeded mustard
1 cup of soy milk (or milk of your choice)
2 eggs
1½ cups of spelt flour
½ cup of millet flour
3 tsp baking powder
Black pepper
salt and pepper to season

1. Cut up pumpkin and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and place in an oven of 180 degrees. Allow to cook for approx 20 minutes or until cooked through. Whilst pumpkin is cooking, grease tins - enough for 12 muffins.
2. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly. Combine in a bowl ¾ of the pumpkin, ¾ of the fetta (remaining will be used on top), parmesan, thyme, mustard, pepper & pine nuts and mix roughly.
3. In a separate bowl, combine milk and eggs and whisk. Once combined, add to the pumpkin mix and roughly stir. Avoid over stirring so that the pumpkin and fetta remain in tact.
4. Sift in flours and baking soda to the mixture and again stir roughly.
5. Place mix into muffin tins. Place the left over pumpkin and fetta on top of each individual muffin. Once complete, cook in the same temperature oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the tops become hard and golden.

I slightly modified the flours and seasoning to suit what I had in the cupboard. You could use regular flours if preferred, or any combination really. Don't ever be afraid to modify recipes to suit whats in your pantry. You might just surprise yourself and come up with something even more delicious!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

3 Reasons Why you need a Veggie Garden

This is my patch! I'm super proud of it. There isn't a huge variety this year but its quality not quantity!

My veggie garden turned 3 a few months ago. 3 years on and I love it as much as the day it was born. There are so many reasons why you should have your own little patch in the back yard, and no reasons that spring to mind as to why you shouldn't.

Early on in the relationship, I did have one gripe. Olivia used to try and eat the dirt. It used to drive me crazy. Now, I'm all for relaxed parenting, and whilst I admit that the thought of dirt in my mouth is foul, playing in dirt (good, proper dirt) is in fact very good for you. Dirt contains bacteria. Many bacteria are in actual fact GOOD for you. Naturally occurring bacteria in the soil, as you can see , trip the neurons that produce serotonin, similar to the effect of an antidepressant. Our gut also benefit greatly from the bacteria in soil, which we minimally ingest via fruits and veggies. Many of us are missing out on getting these bacteria and microbes, because the best way to get your dose of these is touching and gardening in the soil.

Unless you have yourself set up with a greenhouse, veggie gardens require you to spend some time in the great outdoors. Again - so good for you. We established some time ago, and understanding of how essential the suns ray's are for good health, both mentally and physically. The average size veggie garden shouldn't require more than 15 minutes of attention every other day (the suggested time required to make adequate vitamin D) This would be time well spent both in the garden and in the sun.

Oh and then there are the nutrients! There is nothing better than home grown veggies, free of chemicals and pesticides which come straight from the soil to you. That's the reward for the time well spent on maintenance. Many store brought veggies have so little nutrient content remaining, they are virtually useless. Organic produce hasn't necessarily been proven to have more nutrients however when products are left in storage
for long periods of time, their nutritional value declines. Organic produce is free from toxic chemicals and is bursting with flavor. This means organic wins hands down on the nutritional front when you take this into consideration. Home grown or organic veggies are the perfect ingredient for a more fertile you.

The moral of today's story, get into the garden! Make your own veggie patch, be it in pots or the ground, either way, big or small. If you're looking for some direction or assistance, take a peek of My Little Veggie Patch. It's a one stop shop with tips, advice and products. They will even design a veggie patch for you!

There are no good reasons why you shouldn't garden - other than you might become addicted to it!

Multi-Vitamin & Fish Oil combo GIVEAWAY

It seems that many of you are very interested in my recommendation in the quest for a good quality multi vitamin.

I've decided to give away to one lucky reader one multi-vitamin and one fish oil from my favorite brand Panaxea.

Together they are valued at $70.

All you need to do is refer a friend to the blog for your chance to win this awesome prize. Once your friend has joined, email me at and I will pop you in the draw.

Winners will be announced Friday the 5th of November. Best of luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Multi-Vitamins v Healthy Eats

original image here
I haven't always given multi vitamins the thumbs up. In fact, I'm not sure I've been 100% converted either. It's not that I don't like them, but I've always been of the opinion that our diet must remain the primary source of nutrients. Excellent in theory.
Unfortunately we have done crazy things to our soils that mean food doesn't have the same nutrient quality as it did in previous years. So now, our bodies are lacking. Seriously lacking.

All patients in my clinic are encouraged to eat for their fertility as well as take a multi-vitamin. Adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy reproductive function. So what we aren't getting in our foods, we are lucky enough to be able to 'top up' our bodies to make sure we have everything we need. Long term use of contraceptions, prescription medications, stress and poor lifestyle has lead us to a point where our bodies are extremely depleted. Our health really suffers as a result.

But not just any old multi will do. You get what you pay for. Be careful when choosing your supplements. Some over the counter products have the same nutritional value as cardboard. You can't go past practitioner grade products when it comes to quality and ingredients. This I can't stress enough. Lesser quality products may be doing more harm than good.

If your stuck, just ask me and I can point you in the right direction.

Of course, multi vitamins aren't just good for those trying to make little people. Studies also show that adequate nutrients lead to healthier, leaner bodies. Bodies that have adequate stores of vitamins and minerals are believed to be up to 25% less likely to be overweight in comparison.

It's not a matter of what is 'ideal' anymore. The question is are you getting enough? Eating healthy is an absolute must and should continue to be your top priority. Supplementing with a multi vitamin is a bonus.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Food Friday :: My stuffed Eggplant... and some.

With all the birthday treats I’ve had this week I am posting two recipes today. Each of these eats barely made it to the kitchen table they were such winners!

Stuffed Eggplant

2 larger sized eggplant
1 can of organic crushed tomatoes
2 onions diced
1 bunch of parsley
(if you wanted to make a meat variety, you could use chicken mince)

Cut the Eggplant in half, score and brush with oil .
Place in an oven on 180 degrees. Allow to cook until flesh is soft, approximately 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile in a fry pan, fry onion until soft.
Add tomato and salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Remove flesh from eggplant, once cool enough to handle and add the flesh to the onion and tomatoes. I find the best way to get the flesh out without damaging the eggplant is to cut around the edge leaving 0.5cm border and then spoon out the flesh carefully, making sure not to damage the eggplant skins as they are to be refilled.
Add parsley and stir until well mixed through.
Place mixture back into eggplant shells and put back into the oven for approximately 10 minutes. You could also top with fetta or goats cheese before putting into the oven for extra flavor.

Humming Bird Party Cake

1 cup of self raising flour
2 cups of plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar (or you could substitute it for honey. If you do, use half as much)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 tin of diced pineapple, juice included
Pulb of 2 passionfruit
2 banana's mashed
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 eggs

Grease and line a round tin.
Sift flours and add all dry ingredients and mix well in one bowl.
In another bowl, combine pineapple, passionfruit, banana, oil and eggs (mix eggs first and then add other ingredients) and mix well.
Pour fruit mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined. There is no need to over stir.
Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

I iced this with cream cheese icing - using philadelphia cream cheese & icing sugar, and then decorating with almond flakes.
However, if you wanted to opt for a healthier version, the cake is quite moist and can be eaten on it's own – it is great for little people.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's 'that' time of the month...

Original Image Here

It's been nothing short of a crazy and stressful month. I'm feeling it with every inch of my being. Ever since I started practicing
Chinese Medicine I have managed to have my PMS (pre-menstrual stress) under control - free from pain and tension. This month, however, the stresses I have felt have managed to unravel me. I'm not surprised as I see the impact stress has on the body everyday in the clinic.

As I sit and type, my tummy is heavy and my head hurts. I have a thumper of a headache and a pounding so forcefully resinating in my lower abdomen, we could put a tune to it and have ourselves a nice little theme song! Obviously, I need to shut down my computer and head to bed but I know that if I write this whilst I feel so horrible I can make my point. My point is this; period pain, headache, pre-menstrual tension (emotional, physical or mental) all reflect the body’s inner working systems aren't functioning smoothly. Whilst I'm certain we have all felt different levels of any one of these, these signs are your body’s way of telling you that it is struggling.

Pain in the body is a perfect example of this struggle. From a Chinese Medicine perspective pain may indicate there is stagnation present in the relative area (ie the uterus) and that blood and essential nutrients aren't able to pass around and supply organs and tissues adequately. When blood and essential nutrients can't move or nourish the result is pain; a warning sign. Pain at specific times of the month allows me to diagnose and treat accordingly, ultimately leading to better body function. With fertility in mind, it is essential to ensure adequate nutrient supply to the ovaries, to make great quality embryos. It doesn't stop here, this chain goes on and on. The uterus requires the same level of energy to make sure it's ready for implantation. Stagnation will prevent this from occurring effectively.

I know that some simple lifestyle changes will have me back on track for next month. I also know that if the pendulum has swung too far in the one direction or stress is inevitable, then its essential to get it sorted. Period or ovulation pain (any pain really) shouldn't be experienced every month, nor do the other nasties that may accompany it. It's a free sign from your body. No radiologist required.

Remember this and lessen your PMS this cycle.
~ Your granny wasn't so crazy when she said be careful when swimming during the pre-menstrual window. Take care not to allow the lower abdomen and back to get too cold. This may contribute to pain.
~ Eating Cold prior to your expected period date may lead to a more painful period. Stick to warmer foods in the 3-4 days leading into it as well as during the period time.
~ Exercise to get blood flowing and moves cortisol out of the body. Cortisol is the hormone released when stressed. It's important to move this through the body and to lessen the effects of stress which will disrupt and affect your menstruation.
~ Don't be a wonderwoman during the period time. You are literally bleeding. Back off slightly and feel better for it.
~ Post period - R & R is a must.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why it’s good to Celebrate.

Images from my daughters 1st birthday. She turns 3 next year, my how time flies. As for me, I must make more effort to take a snap or two of me blowing out the candles. I don't have any!

I anticipate one day each year. 1 day in 365 days. 24 hours out of a possible 8760. There is a lot of waiting involved. Yes, I’m a kid at heart, but my birthday is one day I get really excited about.

As a kid, my parents made a big deal of our birthdays. We didn’t get regular gifts throughout out the year, but on that one special day we got spoilt rotten. It’s any wonder I love it so much! I distinctly remember the countdown to my 21st. Of course, I was counting down the days, but I wasn’t alone. My dad called me every day for 7 days in the lead up - just to tell me how many more sleeps there were. True story.

I can thank my parents for creating many special memories for me, both birthday memories and others. It’s the little things like these that we pop into our memory bank for recollection in years to come.

Here's what I don’t do. I don’t NOT celebrate my birthday. I once felt the need to let it ride. Just another day right? WRONG! I spent two years thinking I was 27, it was like 28 never registered because it was never celebrated. I blame the fact that I skipped that birthday. Imagine the horror when I discovered I have skipped being 28. I went straight from being 27 to 29!

Make every minute count. Do your best to be your best everyday. Cherish the special moments everyday, not just your birthday but create lasting memories for your little memory bank. It’s nice to make lasting happy memories.

Did I mention happiness is good for your fertility too? Of course it is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good Food Friday Treat :: Mum's AMAZING Cauliflower Soup

Can somebody please find spring and bring her back to me? The past few days in Melbourne have been really chilly. In fact, today is nothing short of drab. I want my sunshine back. However I'm ok with the extra water my veggie garden is getting, only for a short while though, because all this rain is threatening to pelt off the stunning blossom that is filling my fruit trees. Blossom makes me happy!

I have for you today the most delicious soup recipe I think I may have ever tasted. I've been playing nurse Nat to my mum this week who has been visiting. Sitting in my fridge was an entire Caullie. Mum was bragging about her latest recipe, so I thought I would whip it up . I’m not joking with the 'whip', this recipe is a cinch. It's so delicious I fear I could eat an entire pot! You must make this little winner up. Every cell in your body will love you for it.

Mum's Cauliflower Soup

1/3 cup of olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium sized Cauliflower broken into florets
2 medium sizes onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5 cups of stock (I use veggie, mum uses chicken)
1 cup of soy milk (original recipe ask for cream)

1. Heat oil in a large pot, adding onion and garlic. Allow to cook for a few minutes until they start to become clear
2. Add Cauliflower and allow it to begin to brown
3. Cover with stock and allow it to come to the boil.
4. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes (the longer the better really) until the Cauliflower is very soft and breaks up easily)
5. Run wizzstick or put into the blender until there are no lumps and the soup is a very smooth consistency.
6. Place back onto the heat and add soy milk.
Serve with crusty bread and garnish with parsley and pepper.

AR-MAZING. It doesn't even taste like Cauliflower soup! So delicious.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fertility :: The New Approach

A little over a year ago, I did some research and found myself approaching fertility treatment in the clinic in a new way. It took a lot of courage for me to totally change what I had learnt and adapt my new learnings into how I thought they best fit in my practice. I did away with the old, and brought in new, radical treatments for pre-conception care and IVF treatments. So what did I do? I found that certain approaches that had always been encouraged were outdated. I found that playing it ‘safe’ with treatments was not enough. I had to work outside the square. I had to push treatment to the limits. Acupuncture points that were previously considered useless became my focus. Treating at specific intervals became extremely important.
I discovered three main things in relation to fertility- three things that acupuncture could achieve to dramatically improve a couples chances of a baby.

The three keys I focus on are:
to reduce stress & increase immunity,
regulate hormones and
significantly improve reproductive function.
From when we started focusing on these three key elements the success rates of viable and healthy pregnancies have reached new levels at The Pagoda Tree.

What I got back were babies. Lots and lots of babies, with plenty of happy parents to match.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More on Millet!

This week I teamed up with Sarah Wilson to talk millet. Visit Sarah's awesome blog to read her tips on millet and my guest blog. Sarah also regularly features amazing, interesting and thoughtful articles and information on mindful and healthful eating. She's a must read for me. You can find her here :: Sarah Wilson's Blog

Monday, October 4, 2010

Perhaps I'm better off not to sleep?

Beautiful Images of Papou with his grandchildren

We lost my father-in-law on Friday, to that demon known as cancer. I can only describe the feelings that followed as mixed. In one minute we felt a sense of relief, and in the very next instant, sadness. I sat at my in-law's house and I watched, as one by one each family member and friend shuffled in to pay their respects. Then something happened. My phone rang. A patient, so overjoyed, I could feel it. She was pregnant. And then... like some miracle... another called. She too, was expecting.
As clich├ęd as it is, I was watching this unfold before my eyes. One life ends and another life begins.

With all the heightened emotions running about in this mind of mine, I have to say, I'm afraid to sleep. I'm not kidding. I have dreamt every night since this that I am pregnant! I type this with a smirk because, for those of you who know me understand that this is not at the top of my list right now. It's a running joke, mostly by those who think they are funny. We will have more children for sure, in the near future, but not right now. According to dream analysis, dreaming of birth signals new beginning and new starts - funny that.

Spring has kicked in and according to Chinese Medicine, this is the time that the Liver energy is in full swing. Emotions and physical health are intimately connected and the liver is responsible for spreading qi, blood and nutrients around the body. Heightened emotions - specifically grief and sadness, will directly affect the Liver. If such emotions are not properly resolved it may lead to all sorts of complaints and illness (like dreaming - interesting that!). It may mean that the liver can't do it's job properly, and so other organs miss out on what they need. As a result, all body systems are affected. I know dreaming isn't an illness, and seems innocent enough. It is when dreams continue to disrupt sleep over a period of time that the body will begin to suffer. Not having a restful nights sleep will lead to fatigue and other health issues. Long term fatigue will for sure affect all body systems, including fertility.

So the aim in this household, especially now that it is spring, is that we take on these emotions and we deal with them properly. We don't tuck them away to be dealt with another day, we allow our bodies to fully feel what we are experiencing each minute. It may be something you aren't used to doing, but let me tell you, it is so important for your health, your fertility and your mind body connection.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good Food Friday :: Tabouli

You may have noticed, there has been a lot of one ingredient spoken about this week. I've been experimenting in the kitchen with millet. You can find millet in your health food stores, or even in good supermarkets.

I hope you enjoy my Tabouli recipe - delicious and healthy with all the fresh ingredients.

Terrific Tabouli

1 large bunch of parsley
3 finely chopped tomato
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup of cooked Millet (boil in a pot with 2 cups of water for approximately an hour or until soft)
The juice of one lemon
2 - 3 table spoons of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl and enjoy!


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