dinsdag 9 september 2014

Empty nest syndrome when I still have one little chick left...

Mmmm. I have been a professional, I have always had a job: since my first newspaper round at 13 before and after school. And Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Although some would look at me and say I don't have a job, and to be honest sometime  I feel that I don't either - I have been running my own internet business, with lots of ups and downs due to the crisis. But hopefully things are back on the up again.

Anyway, the point of today's blog was to help me work through some emotions that I suppose come with age and milestones. 

I am sitting here having been busy with visits from mum and sister, who are now back in the UK - and I am back at the desk working on my webshop. 

The house feels and sound empty but there is one little chubster approaching her 6 month milestone, sleeping upstairs and all I can hear is my typing. And my old biddy dog Ramsay breathing. He turns 15 next week. He and I have an agreement that he must stay at least until 15. So far so good.

Two things changed this school year. My third bubba is 4 and goes all day to school, and the kids no longer come home for lunch as the school now has a ├žontinurooster: they all stay at school from 8:25 until 2:30. My two oldest are already at school and enjoy spending the whole day there now.

My 4 year old doesn't have to legally go to school here in the Netherlands but we send her nonetheless. And I come to the conclusion that although many parents have no choice but to send their kids to school at 4 due to work contraints, I don't feel I have that pressure as I work from home. So why is she going?

I have to say that I miss that little girl pottering around the house making mess as she walks, with My Little Ponies dripping from her hands as she walks over to the Duplo box and spills it all out, and then the Playmobil. I miss her demands for "cheese/peanut butter/chocolate paste sandwich", her surprise kisses. 

It makes the feeling all the worse when I can hear the school kids playing outside as we live across from the school! Is it really doing her any good to be in fulltime school so young? I know that she needs to stimulation that school gives her, and that she loves being around others her own age. But we have them all for ourselves for such a short period of time, will another 6 months at home really make a difference?  I reallywish the school could be fleixible in the first year so that a child could attend school only for a few days a week if the parents felt that would be beneficial. I have at least negotiated her staying at home on Fridays but "only until the Herfstvakantie"..

I have at the moment a real feeling of loss, that her and I have been at home together for our first 3 years in this country: and now that period is over.

I hope that this is just a phase and it is a adjustment that I will eventually relish and that I will get used to just one bubba at home. But I have to say that walking my baby and Ramsay in the forest just isn't the same without the little girl running next to me with her green bucket filling it with acorns, leaves and dead beetles. 

Although it is such hard work lots of the time, enjoy your toddlers while you have them, breath in their smell, and let their lust for life pick you up out of that bad mood - before their school career takes them away to different places. 

It is time to pick them all up: roll on a house full of kids!

Remind of this when I am pulling my hair out by this evening....

PS. Afspreken ended up at my house so I had an extra 2 girls and 1 extra boy. If you have 4 kids at home, you might as well have 7...

maandag 10 maart 2014

Whole wheat carrot cake - low sugar

My youngest daughter has a smelly but much loved rabbit who goes everywhere with us. Today she wanted to bake a carrot cake for her rabbit. We had much fun and it was an easy recipe for her, she especially loves recipes with 4 eggs as her speciality is breaking the eggs into the mixture.

I needed less sugar than the recipe used: okay, it uses apple sauce and honey but they are both essentially sugar! I added slghtly more oil as missing out on the sauce and honey means it would be less moist. You could also add carrots...


 Carrot Cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ginger
1 cup of oil
3/4 cup of brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

You can make a simple powder sugar and water for some glaced icing or you could use cream cheese and powdered sugar for the traditional topping. Both are out of bounds for me just now so I had a squirt of cream instead! No sugar, but yes fatty.


Grease and line your baking tin(s)

1Combine the dry ingredients.
2Add oil  and eggs; mix well.
3Stir in the sugar and carrots (and walnuts, if adding)
4Bake in two greased and lined 9-inch cake tins for 35-40 minutes at 180 degrees (or a large square tin)
5Cool for several minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
6 EAT! (or add frosting/icing then eat)

Overall a nice easy cake, would benefit from some icing of frosting though in my opinion! The chocolate cookie loving boy did not like the cake, but he doesn't like cinnamon. The two "I love all cakes and biscuits"daughters loved it.  I did not tell the eldest that there were carrots in it and she hasn't noticed.....

dinsdag 4 maart 2014

Yummy whole wheat, low sugar cupcakes by ninerbakes

I had and still have massive cravings for Victoria Sandwich cake, which I cannot have under my current diet. I could have one small piece, but I can't stop at one small piece.So I had to find a recipe that fulfilled my need for cake which will not blow my sugar count.
These cupcakes/fairy cakes using whole wheat flour and hardly any sugar - and they are still yummy and they are HUGE!!!!!

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Baking Time 14-18 minutes
  • Difficulty Easy
Easier if you have an American cup measurement  cup:
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Frosting of your choice! Or make butterfly cakes by cutting the top of an squirting some cream on top or making your own whipped cream, slice the top of the cake in two and replace on the cream to form wings.
  • You can also cut cake in half, spread on some jam and some cream and replace the top of the cake and have mini Victoria Sandwich cakes! 
  • Is als

woensdag 12 februari 2014

Choc chip cookie that is low sugar and low GI but still tastes good??

 Looking for a low sugar, healthy cookie that doesn't taste healthy?

This is a yummy chocolate chip cookie recipe that I have found which I actually reduce the sugar down to 1/4 cup in total and the kids haven't really noticed. You can of course taste that there is less sugar but the choc chips make up for that loss in sweetness. 

In one version I also added a teaspoon on ginger and nutmeg, which I liked but I think it could have done with more ginger - but the kids preferred the non ginger versions.

 I am now going to go looking for a wholemeal low sugar Victoria sandwich cake and see if I can be successful!!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence or you can use vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped up bar of dark chocolate

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (170/180 celsius)
- Using a mixer, cream the sugars with the softened butter for about two minutes.
- Add in the egg, vanilla, and milk. Mix until smooth.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, with the mixer on low. Mix just until flour disappears. Don’t over mix.
- Stir in the oats and chocolate chips by hand.
- Form rounded cookie dough balls, using about 1 tablespoon of dough. Place dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I flatten the balls slightly too.

- Bake cookies for 11-12minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Let cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes to set up. Then move to a cooking rack. Makes around 2 dozen cookies.

They keep for a few days in a tight tin. But they may not last that long, I usually end up making two or three batches each week, as cookie obsessed son prefers these ones to the full sugar versions from the supermarket!


maandag 10 februari 2014

4 weeks of low carbs and low sugar

I just wanted to update on life "without" carbohydrates or sugar.

I say without but I mean of curse, different carbs and hardly any sugar. I have switched to low G.I - slow releasing carbs or food with no or low carbs in them. After the the new diet and checking my blood count three times a day - my blood sugars are great and can now go back to the midwife, leaving the gynaecologist and hopefully await a straight forward birth.

I thought I ate relatively heathily but actually I was fooling myself. There are of course plenty of unhealthy veggies out there and I can see now how much of the UK and US is sleepwalking to diabetes.

Cornflakes for breakfast are not great or brown toast and cheese - without checking the package to see if it is real brown bread; hardly any lunch and then a whopping great bog portion of white pasta for dinner and half a large packet of crisps in the evening whilst sitting on the sofa - having done no more exercise than running around after the three kids.

What I have learnt from living with (allbeit temporary) diabetes:

Check your brown bread! It may not really be brown! I now check that it is 'volkoren bloem'- wholegrain flour: proper brown; if you don't check, you may end up with white bread which is made a brown colour by adding burnt sugar!! That's what we were eating. Now we are not and the kids haven't even noticed the difference.

Volkoren/wholeweat/grain pasta is tastier than the white stuff and better for controlling blood sugar as it releases sugar more slowly than the white counterpart.  I also need to eat less of it.

Eating more regularly throughout the day using wholegrain products fills me up so I am not a complete pig at dinner time!

Sugar is actually too sweet, and you really don't need it - or that much of it (duh!). I find a caffe latte now fine without sugar, and earl grey tea but I just can't get on with English strong milky tea and no sugar: so I have stopped drinking it. I suppose I could use an artificial sweetener but I happen to think a lump of sugar, even with diabetes is better than a chemical substitute; there is that plant derivative Stevia but long term trials have yet to be done and I don't know what effect it has on unborn children: so  shall just live without either.

I make oatmeal, wholeweat cookies with dark choc chip with my eldest daughter every week and my cookie obsessed son prefers the ones made at home - even though they have a quarter of the sugar stated in the recipe. Hurray!

Check even things like peanut butter: price makes a difference for me but they was such a huge difference between the levels of carbs in the cheapest versus the next cheapest that I left the cheapest on the shelf this time. The cheapest had of course only 51% peanuts and the rest was oil and other stuff. The more peanuts in the fewer carbs (but more fat of course). 

Mashing food that is a carbohydrate makes it release its sugars into your blood more quickly: so mashed potato is worse than boiled potatoes their skins on.

I can have a treat now and then. The longer I go without sugar laden foods or white carbs the less  need them. I had one bar of a twirl bar last night: I didn't need any more. It was too sweet. That was the first bar of chocolate in 4 weeks.

That is not to say that I don't look at the tompouse in the cake counter; or crave a nice big piece of home-made Victoria sandwich cake. But I have quite a strong will and I know I should steer clear of them: unless there is a special occasion.

I feel less tired, without a doubt. I have more energy!

I am now at a higher risk of diabetes later in life so ought to stick to this diet after baby is here;   I  have found it pretty easy to rationalise this diet with ensuring a better outcome for baby but I don't know if I can out my own health first and stick to this long term. I hope so..

dinsdag 14 januari 2014

When you thought you ate healthily but then get a shock...

I am 31 weeks pregnant.

There is a fairly hands-off approach to pregnancy here in the Netherlands and that has at times worried me: only seeing the midwife once a month and then no urine checks and only two blood tests.

Anyway, that is how it is and I just go along with the flow; I am almost too busy with the other three to even notice that I am pregnant: although you can't fail to see that I am pregnant, as most people ask if I am due very soon and are shocked to hear I still have 9 weeks to go: and that's only if this one comes on time.

I had a routine check before Christmas and was told that as I was rhesus negative that I need to be checked for anti-bodies in my blood that would show up if baby was not rhesus negative: if baby is not negative then I need a shot of Anti-D to prevent any further complications with baby.

I rang the midwife to let them know that I had gone for the blood test just after Christmas as they had sent me another form to go and get my blood tested. That is when they told me that by 'blood sugar was on the high side' - I wasn't sure what this meant and she gave no further explanation. So I went and had the extra blood test the following morning at the hospital. After 2 hours my blood glucose was 8.0. That is on the high side. I went to the midwife to tell them the result: it needed to be under 7.8 and now I will be referred to a gynaecologist. 

I was rung today after spending hours on the internet in the absence of any advice. Some say eat carbs, some say don't. There is sugar in everything! But the trouble is I am a vegetarian and already restrict my diet. I don't overeat, I don't like biscuits or chocolate. I do not eat much in the day but I always have a big dinner with plenty of carbohydrate in the evening. We eat a lot of dark green vegetables already and lentils and beans.

I immediately bought wholegrain products and took all the sugar out of my diet that I can. No more warm milk and cornflakes...

I had wholegrain bread and peanut butter for breakfast, a slice of sardines on toast for a snack and a bowl of home-made lentil and spinach soup - all low in carbs but I am now feeling knocked out, which rather unhelpfully is a sign of low or high blood sugar!

What I haven't had today is my hour walk. I had a 60 minute walk on Saturday and Sunday and I miss it today. My daughters came with me yesterday, but they were not keen again this morning..!

I looked back on my diet: although I have out on weight whilst pregnant I never really fluctuate and tend to eat sensibly -or so I thought. I eat plenty of veg, only brown bread - don't overdo it with sweet things.

Yet I am now diabetic whilst pregnant. I am seeing the specialist next week and having another echo to check the size of baby - babies with diabetic/gestational diabetic mothers can get too big for their gestation and this leads to the need to induce labour before 40 weeks or have a c-section.

Neither appeal to me so I am taking the diet seriously in the hope that my new mostly brown diet can keep my blood sugars low and I can keep intervention to a minimum...

vrijdag 29 november 2013

Vork en Mes - low food miles restaurant in Hoofdorp, mostly veggie food and not expensive.

Vork en Mes
Paviljoenlaan 1
Tel 023 5572963

My husband had his birthday yesterday and I wanted to surprise him with a slightly different lunch. We have three small children and don't get out that often!  I am vegetarian and he isn't, but he likes vegetaraian food. Where we are in Breda there is no veggie restaurant unfortunately, so when i heard the follwing chef on the radio, my ears pricked up.

I few weeks ago I was listening to Radio 1 in the car and heard a really interesting interview with Jon Karpathios, the owner of a restaurant in Hoofdorp.

Now,  that isn't that spectacular in itself but I was heartened and interested in his thoughts regarding locally grown food and knowing where your meat is coming from - and being in touch with nature by eating only what is in season. 

We are all so used to seeing strawberries all year round, seeing our demand for all year veggies fulfilled by faraway places such as Peru or Kenya. I am never too sure whether that is good or not but what I do know is flying all those veggies around the world creates a large contribution surely to the increase in CO2.

It has to be better to eat locally, thinking of our food miles and keeping in touch with the seasons. 

The menu is dictated by what is available in their gardens at the time. And they also work with local farms to provide their meat. 

The drive to the restaurant in straightforward - not far from Haarlem and not far at all from the motorway. The drive down a what looks like derelict plot only adds to the surpise as you appear in a carpark next to a lake and a park. The restaurant building is on the river and it has a wrap-around terrave where children and even your dog will be happy in the drier days. 

We were welcomed, they were expecting us and we were given the menu. What an exciting list of winter vegetables! Joeri and I chose a few smaller dishes to share. We only had the vegetable dishes and there were actually only a few meat dishes. Also some pasta dishes but I was interested in what they were going to do with the veggies. 

WOW! How can anyone make just vegetables taste so good? We were not disappointed at all, one dish was a beautiful mixture of winter veggies: beatroot, parsnips, carrots - just delicious! 

 We had:
Seizoensgroenten op verschillende manieren bereid, hangop met olijven en walnoten poeder
Tarte Tatin van ui met groene kool en komijnekaas
Brioche crouton met paddestoelen, uienjam en noten 

The three dishes were enough for a lunch, but we of course followed the meal off with a desert: Joeri had awhite chocolate pannacotta, grapesoup and chocolate mousse and I had carrot cake with walnuts, yoghurt icecream and caramel sauce.

We finished off with a coffee and left very happy. I even received an email the day after asking if I had enjoyed my visit and if I had any further ideas to improve. How many restaurants do that?

We had a lovely lunch, and I can imagine it is also a great place for dinner. Well done to Jon Karpathios whose concept is badly needed - we do need to think about where I food is coming from, we do need to be closer to nature and eat in season and there is no need that any of this needs to be expensive. 

I also have the cookbook now, so we can practice at home. Although I doubt that we will get anywhere close to the fabulous tastes we had yesterday.

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