July 31, 2016

Q and A – Part One

Q and A time! I don’t always get to answer, or see, all the questions that get asked on instagram so I tried to get them all in one place so I could sit down and give you my best in answering them, and here they are (or the first half – cos there were so many!) I love getting to give what I can in answering questions, so I hope this helps you out – thanks to those of you that asked great questions, I think you’ve pretty much covered everything in this selection!

1. KITCHEN

2. MEAL PLANNING/PREP

3. INGREDIENTS WE USE

4. FITNESS AND WORKOUTS

 

KITCHEN

  • I was wondering how you keep things stored away in the fridge? As silly as that sounds, I’m curious because I’m keen to get away from using plastic Tupperware. Thank you!
    • Yes, we try to avoid buying and using plastic at all costs so I tend to use glass. We have thousands of mason jars which I use for everything from dressings to smoothies to freezing rice and meat portions (google about freezing in mason jars first!).  We also use stainless steel for lunch boxes and food storage – our favorites are these and these containers.  I also store portions in our ceramic eating bowls and cover them with Beeswrap, which is a brilliant compoastable and reusable plastic wrap alternative, I also use it to cover a leftover smoothie, or wrap cheese.
  • I have been wondering what waffle iron you use?
    • I’ll be honest, this is one I’m not too proud of! I love my waffle iron (it’s an old version of this one) except that it’s the one non stick item I have in my kitchen and I’d like to change that. We only cook with cast iron skillets but I let the waffle iron go, and I’d love to change to a non stick one.  So for functionality I’d recommend ours but I’d also recommend looking into cast iron versions.

 

MEAL PLANNING/PREP

  • How do you cook your sweet potato, do you eat the skin? I’d love to know how you make your sweet potato wedges and rounds. They look perfectly done every time!
    • Mostly, I make them the simplest way – just popping the whole thing in the oven for about an hour at 350F until it’s soft, then stashing 5-10 potatoes cooked like that in the fridge for the week. When it comes to a meal, I’ll reheat the whole thing, or chop it in disks/wedges and re heat in a skillet, or mash it up.  For a breakfast hash I dice them and cook them for about 20 minutes in an oiled skillet with garlic, and any other veggies I want to add in.  For wedges, I chop them, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes then dry thoroughly and preheat the oven to 400F.  I toss them in oil and salt, and sometimes garlic too then put them in one later on a sheet pan and cook for 45 minutes.  After 20 minutes I toss them then again every 10-15 minutes until they’re done.  Whichever method I use, I make (lots of!) extras for the week ahead.
  • Generally speaking, how often do you shop for items and stock up for your family? Specifically, How often do you go shopping for fresh ingredients (produce)?
    • I shop for groceries about 2 times per week, with a Monday morning shop that’s the biggest, and a second to refill on things like greens and eggs. We will also sometimes get a few things at our Saturday farmers’ market but that’s not my staple shopping place.
  • Specifically, how often do you go shopping for fresh ingredients (produce)? I struggle with knowing how many fresh ingredients to buy at once for my husband and sometimes it just ends up getting thrown away since it goes bad before I know it.
    • Usually twice per week, because I have that luxury, but one could be enough if I needed it to be. I have a pretty good feel for how much we need for three of us, but I’ll also alter what we eat if it looks like we might have stuff go bad. And if we go on a trip and it looks like we’ll have a lot left I (cook and) freeze what I can, or we juice it up!
  • Do you prepare your food fresh all the time or do you prep it ahead of time?
    • I do a combination of cooking from fresh for each meal, and prepping ahead. I also usually make double of any big meal I make so that we can eat it twice, or Jared can take half for a lunch. I also batch cook certain staples that I can incorporate into meals (mostly lunches) throughout the week. These things are usually: Quinoa, lentils, sweet potatoes, brown rice, black beans (those are once a month and I freeze in portions), hard boiled eggs, pancakes, cookies, grilled/slow cooked chicken, a breakfast hash, simple ground beef, dressing.  So it’s not fully prepped meals but components that I can put together quickly into a meal.
  • What does your grocery list look like?
    • This largely depends on whether we get a produce box or not, as 50%+ of my list is fresh fruit and veggies. My non produce staple are: Quinoa, brown rice, eggs, organic chicken, local grass fed beef, raw milk cheese, mustard, whole spelt flour, oats, tomato passata, good balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, raw honey, cocoa, raw coconut oil, yogurt, bananas, Himalayan salt, almond butter, almonds, sunflower seeds, tamari, garlic, tahini, nutritional yeast, dates oh and locally roasted organic coffee is always on the list!
  • How much time do you spend cooking every day?
    • We eat breakfast together every day to start the day with some family connection, and slow time, even if it’s short. That usually takes 5-10 minutes cooking.  I make Jared’s lunch while I make brekkie if I haven’t got packaged up dinner leftovers from the night before.  Lunch is then simple for me, usually reheating pre-prepped components or tossing a salad, again maybe 10 minutes prep or less.  Dinner is the meal I put a bit more time into, and depending on what I make that prep could be up to 30 minutes of cooking before the meal (but I may have done bits ahead, like kneading dough and leaving it to rise).  At the weekend I’ll also take a bit more time making breakfast, it might be eggs benedict, or waffles and then I’ll take 20 minutes while Jared gets up and takes Clayton. With those times given though, I do make things ahead, so that in the moment meals can take less time. I might do 1-2 hours of batch cooking at points through the week. One of my biggest tips is to make extra.  When I’m already prepping a veggie hash for a girls brunch at the weekend, I’ll make 3 times what I need so that for so little extra work, I have multiple meals for the week.
  • Do you plan out all your meals in advance?
    • At least on the morning of each day, yes! If I know we have a really full week I plan out every bite beforehand but for most of life we live in between those extremes. When I shop on Monday morning, I know which meals we’re eating at home, and which lunches Jared needs, then I have an idea of some meals we’ll eat through the week but not necessarily when we’ll eat them.  I always keep a well stocked pantry, and always stock up on lots of fresh fruit and veggies. So I might know that we’ll eat pizza and then pizza leftovers for two meals at the weekend, but until Friday I don’t know which meals those will be – in my Monday shop though, I’ll make sure we have the dough and sauce ingredients on hand for whenever we choose to make it.  I know it will have some form of meat and veg on top but I’ll decide that looking at what we still have when it comes to pizza night.  Then I’ll also know one night is quinoa and roasted/sauteed veggies but I’ll decide what veggies go in and what dressing/flavours I use on the night as we make it.  I’ll know that Jared will have salads for lunches, with a couple of ‘leftovers’ lunches but which ones go when will depend which nights we eat which meals. Sometimes we have days that get certain meals assigned, but the specifics on the meal vary.  As in, Sundays are always waffles but the toppings change, Fridays are pizza but the toppings change, Saturdays are eggs but whether its on avo toast, or as a benedict varies, Thursdays are a heavy work day so it’s always a prepped ahead meal like a quinoa dish, but that changes. It gives me a little structure but leaving room for seasonality, fridge contents, how we feel, and variation.

 

WORKOUTS AND FITNESS

  • What does your workout routine look like?
    • I love to exercise. I’m a really active person so for me going to the gym is a treat not a sacrifice.  However, with a baby I get there less and I have a goal to go 3 times a week, and then run outdoors with him once a week.  Usually that means going at 5am, or after he’s in bed.  I do a combination of weight training and low impact cardio when I’m at the gym, and when I run it’s usually 4-6 miles. I also make sure I’m doing core strength training regularly, especially after pregnancy. It’s so important!
    • For Jared, he’s a cardio guy and usually hits the streets or a treadmill for a good run.  He’ll say it himself that his fitness definitely increases during NBA playoff season… because the treadmills have TV’s and we don’t have one at home!!
  • Did you develop diastasis recti from pregnancy?
    • Yes I did – I had an experienced friend test my abs at 8 weeks post partum and I could fit about 4 fingers side by side between my abs. I was shocked!  After that I was really careful in how I rebuilt my abs again and helped them heal and they’re now right back together.  Starting at 8 weeks, I did THIS workout starting with the basic versions and then modified it as I got stronger.  I also concentrated on my posture religiously – especially when carrying the baby or lifting anything.  By about 6 months my abs were back together but I still pay attention to my posture and keep doing these exercises a few times a week or else I find that I forget to hold my abs right and that pooch belly appears again!
  • Also, what did you do in terms of fitness to get back into shape postpartum?
    • As for general getting back in shape, I rested and barely moved for about 2 weeks (I was a mess after labour!) – rest is a hugely important part of recovery. I waited till I felt like moving before I moved – and for me to not feel like moving is unheard of so I knew I could trust that I needed to rest!
    • I then walked very slowly for about 100 yards at day 5pp, and went increasing distances each day up to about an hour some days when I felt fully healed (at 6 weeks).
    • I went back to the gym at 8 weeks post partum and began to build my strength up again.  I had worked out with strength training and cardio until the day I went into labour so I wasn’t hugely unfit, and didn’t have much muscle loss.  I also watched myself through pregnancy and so only had 10lbs to lose so I didn’t do anything out of my normal routine, but just slotted back in and let my body find it’s normal again.
    • In terms of eating, I had to find a new normal.  About a month after birth I realized that I had stopped eating meals, or rather – my day was one long meal!  After months of morning sickness that meant I needed to eat all the time, and then those initial crazily hungry weeks of breastfeeding through the day and night, I’d stopped waiting for meal times to eat, and I was just eating. All the time.  When I realized this I started paying a little more attention and found the structure of waiting for meal times and actually eating meals again (but I do 4 a day, or 3 and an afternoon snack).  When I found that rhythm I felt balanced again and the rest of the weight fell off and and I felt back to my normal self. Note: I didn’t use a scale, numbers are just the tiniest part of the story – I’m not scared of the scale but I know ‘feel’ is a much bigger measure for me.

INGREDIENTS/BAKING

  • Can I use almond meal instead of grinding almonds like in some of your recipes?
    • Yes! That’s what I use as my go to for paleo baking.
  • What’s a good substitute for sweetened condensed milk in recipes?
    • Things like this would really depend on the recipe and it’s needed to do different things – in banofee pie that can use a boiled condensed milk caramel I switch it out for a date caramel, you can get the recipe HERE.
  • Can you recommend alternatives to pasta?
    • We don’t eat a lot of pasta, and I tend to make zoodles with our beloved spiralizer instead which is a low carb, highly nutritious alternative that you can still top with your favourite sauce. But if you want a really good non wheat or grain subsitite I recommend a chick pea, lentil or quinoa pasta (This one is our personal fave). They hold up really well, have great flavour and give a good fueling meal.
  • Is spelt suitable for those who are gluten sensitive/intolerant?
    • If you have coeliac disease, spelt still has gluten so it won’t be an option for you, however, a gluten sensitivity and an allergy are different and if you are just sensitive, you may be able to have good spelt. The bread we buy is from Berlin Natural Bakery and I’m always amazed reading about the gluten intolerant people who can eat their bread.
  • Have you found a good tasty alternative to milk? I’ve heard that the pasteurizing process is what’s bad but I love milk. Coconut milk doesn’t quite cut it and milk alternatives are expensive. Any thoughts? 
    • I think this depends on what you are after. Personally I love cashew/coconut milk that I make myself and find that it holds up well in coffee (even froths) and has the most neutral taste, but I also love good grass fed raw dairy and drank it a lot when I worked on a dairy farm.  We don’t drink regular ‘processed’ milk but will occasionally have raw milk products in the house (cheese, kefir and occasionly milk).
  • What’s your favorite dark chocolate brand / baking chocolate brand? 
    • In business baking I use extra dark, soy free chocolate chips from Guittard. For our personal eating, we pretty much love anything extra dark, and fairly traded (that’s important to me).  The Nohmad Snack Company are one of our favrourites with their raw, coconut sugar sweetened chocolate, and when it’s just me, I’ll always choose a really good 100% cocoa bar.
  • Turbinado sugar vs coconut sugar … What’s your fave? 
    • Not for any good reason, but I use organic coconut sugar (along with honey) in all my business baking, and raw local honey for personal use.
  • What are your thoughts on raw milk vs nut milks and on traditional sourdoughs vs gluten free breads? I’ve read a lot about keeping things raw and traditionally cultured. So basically: do you think that nut milks and gf is superior to raw dairy and long fermented wheat? 
    • I don’t think nut milks and gluten free products are necessarily superior and actually things carrying those claims on the label are often far far worse due to additives and refined/processed ingredients. But assuming a good quality, clean version, I think they are just different (that is of course unless you have allergies/sensitivites that make the raw dairy/sourdoughs impossible). I’m not an expert at all but we eat organic sprouted grains and sourdoughs and have no problems with them in theory or in practice, I love integrating them into our diet and when our son is older I’ll introduce them to him too.
    • I think a lot of the problems people experience with grains and dairy are due to bad quality versions, but equally, a lot of people also don’t have access to the good versions. So then I would say good nut milks and healthy non wheat/grain breads can be better. Notice I didn’t say ‘gluten free’, because, (and I’m just going to jump up on a soap box here!!) gluten free does NOT MEAN HEALTHY! This is one of the biggest lies people are buying into currently. The only thing that a gluten free label means, is that someone with coeliac disease won’t have a reaction.  That’s it.  You can read my full thoughts on gluten in my post on Gluten: Fact, Fiction or Fad.
  • When creating Paleo/GF desserts what are musts to know? And where do you start when converting a recipe to GF?? 
    • My favourite way to create these kinds of recipes is to think totally outside of something that ‘needs’ gluten or grains rather than trying to substitute, which is why I love raw desserts like this and this. But in baking, gluten is a protein that makes things fluffy and binds ingredients together – so you have to find a way to recreate that without the gluten. Nut flours are really the staple of gluten free baking but more obscure non nut flours are emerging like cassava roottiger nut and others (I love the tiger nut for a pie crust).  My personal go-to is either oat flour (in pancake recipes like this) or a nut meal with a combination of coconut flour and arrowroot starch and I alter the ratio for different things.  Arrowroot gives some extra binding ability, but in cakes I also use extra eggs as well for stability. One note on a problem you can often run into when making raw/paleo things and using honey is to remember it contains water – so when mixing it with nut butters or oils, it can seize. THIS is a great post on that by The Foodie Teen.
  • Why is apple cider vinegar used in Paleo/GF baking? 
    • It’s usually a leavening agent.  Personally though, I use it in cleaning, a few drops of raw AVC in my water for flavour and health, and in dressings.
  • What is your best advice in regards to sugar? Since you make paleo donuts, what sugar do you use? I can’t stand stevia, and looking for other alternatives.
    • I’m with you on not liking stevia. The taste is not one that either of us like, and I personally see it as a pretty processed product – even if it comes from a plant.
    • We do make a lot of sweet things here but despite what we post, we actually eat very little sugar ourselves.  My reasons for creating lots of sweet treats and doing dessert ebooks is that it’s often something that a lot of people find it hard to make cleaner version of and so something that people stumble on on their health journies. They can also be hard to find at all for people who have intolerances, so I want to give options, but I really think these things are for the occasional indulgence, and that’s how we use them personally.
    • When we eat out I even leave the honey off my granola/toast, and maybe order or eat a cleanly sweetened dessert about once a month.  I do eat things sweetened with whole fruits, like smoothies, bananas in pancakes, and I sweeten my nut milk with dates.  The only place I touch ‘real’ sugar is occasionally in dark chocolate – but mostly for that I make my own that’s either 100% dark, or sweetened with raw honey.  I think when eating added sugars, even if it’s unrefined and natural,  it should be a treat.  For our treats we choose dates, and raw honey. I think when we do choose to eat those treats we shouldn’t feel bad about the sugar, but really enjoy them and I think what we need to look at is getting the most nutritional content for the sugar intake.  Blackstrap molasses is another nutrient dense sweetener that occasionally I’ll put on pancakes or oatmeal.
  • When I make the spelt flour bread & I try to slice I end up with bread crumbs all over the place… And sometimes the sliced break apart (even when I do thick slices). I know crumbs are normal, but it’s like the bread is too dry or something. Is that normal or does that mean it needs more water or something? 
    • I’m no bread expert at all, but I know that adding oil makes for less dry crumbly bread – and sometimes in my pizza crust I’ll add some arrowroot for extra binding.
  • When you soak dates, how long do you soak them for? And should the soaked dates (and the water) be used right away or will they keep for a while? 
    • It depends how dry they are but usually covered with just enough boiling water to submerge and given an hour, you’ll have what you need. I keep both leftover dates and the water in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Check back in a few days for Part Two of this Q and A!

 

 

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