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Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol?Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol? The short answer is yes - you can eat mussels if you have high cholesterol. Mussels are low in kilojoules, cholesterol and fat. The little fat they do have is mostly healthy unsaturated fat with plenty...


Bran MuffinsBran Muffins These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling - a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don't expect to absorb...


Beat the flu with Chicken Noodle Soup It’s Queen’s Birthday holiday today in New Zealand and thank goodness, the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a sunny room writing this post, sheltered from the icy wind blasting up from Antarctica....


My nanna's recipe for homemade Rewena (Maori) bread Rewena Bread Step 1 1 c flour 1 tsp sugar 1 potato Peel and cut potato into small pieces. Place in pot with 1 cup water, lid on, and simmer to mashing consistency. Mash, cool and when luke...


Should I drink bottled water?Should I drink bottled water? Why would you pay for water when you can drink it straight from the tap? Why indeed? Recently I joined a throng of thirsty wine drinkers at the annual 'NZ in a Glass' wine tasting evening in Sydney. ...


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Valerie’s Chestnut Soup

Posted on : 09-06-2015 | By : Cindy | In : Uncategorized


chesMy gorgeous friend, Valerie, introduced me to the wonder of chestnut soup. She grew up in the south of France where chestnuts feature widely in the cuisine. I had never tasted them, let alone attempted to cook with them. In some ways chestnuts remind me of the French – glossy and glamorous but a bit formidable! How on earth are you meant to turn such a solid looking nut into soup?

It’s surprisingly easy, so long as you have a sharp knife to score a cross on the top of each nut. The first time I made this soup I made it too thick – more like pumpkin soup texture. It tastes far better as a thin soup.

The original recipe has 25 grams of butter swirled through at the end (in the best French tradition) but to me, it tastes just as delicious without the butter. I can already hear the cries of horror from my friend!

Gallipoli – My granddad’s diaries

Posted on : 23-04-2015 | By : Cindy | In : Uncategorized



My grandad was with the New Zealand Field Ambulance in World War One – at Gallipoli, Salonika, the Somme and Passchendaele. His diaries are fascinating to read. In honour of Anzac Day here is an excerpt of his arrival and first few weeks at Gallipoli. I have added explanations in italics. If anyone is interested, I will post more excerpts – let me know!!

Thurs 16 Sept 15

Breakfast 7am. Packed kit and then lay in hammock resting till 11am when we fell in. We were then told to fall out as we were not to go, so went below and had some lunch. We had no sooner finished than we had to fall in with all haste and march right aboard the ‘Sarnia’ and stand aboard her packed like sardines.

Heavy rain was falling but soon cleared off so made myself as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. We got aboard about 12 noon but did not sail until 4pm. Cleared Lemnos 4.30 and had a beautiful calm trip to Anzac arriving 9pm. Had plenty to eat and good tea on the trip.

In NZ always thought what queer emotional thoughts one would have on a trip like this where perhaps in a few hours dozens of the men around one would be killed but no I feel as unconcerned as possible, not the least emotional. Here now I can hear the guns going off – the first I have heard in anger. The place where we land looks just like a town. Lights all over the hill. We are now waiting to disembark. Warship bombarding the shore & just after we were all on the lighter for the shore, star shells went up and a terrific rifle fire started. Sounds just like a very heavy hailstorm on an iron roof. Spray bullets started to hit the boat and the water around. We all lay down. Only one man on the lighter was hit. It stopped in about half an hour and we made for the shore. A jetty to land at now.

Landed at 11pm and soon after started on at least a two mile march through trenches to No. 2 outpost. Rolled myself up in my overcoat and slept in a dugout. Very hard, cramped and cold so did not sleep much.


Fri 17 Sept 15
Up at 6am and enjoyed the view from the trenches. Had a scratch breakfast and then watched an artillery drill till 10am when we came down to the beach to await orders. Watched wounded being brought in, the Indian transport warships, the ASC (Army Service Corps) and all the other various activities. Had all the various positions pointed out to us. Would like to draw a map explaining same but it would not pass censor. Drew rations and mess tins and then marched about a mile to rest station.

The Pounamu Prophecy

Posted on : 13-03-2015 | By : Cindy | In : Maori kai, Milestones, New Zealand, Traditions


COVER5hAt last, after months of prayer and pondering I finally have a title for my novel. The book has had four different names. If it was a person it would surely be suffering an identity crisis from so many changes! But thanks to my husband and sister-in-law, helped along by a few drinks sitting on a balcony in Bangkok, we have come up with a fantastic title: The Pounamu Prophecy.

Pounamu is a beautiful word for a beautiful stone. It is the Maori word for greenstone, a unique type of jade found only in the South Island of New Zealand. It is a sacred stone,  treasured by Maori as a sign of status or power and used for making peace. It is often carved into pendants and other jewellery which many tourists buy when they visit New Zealand.

In the past it was also carved into tools and weapons. Sometimes these valuable and most beautiful weapons were given to another tribe as a peace agreement. Pounamu is still used this way today. My husband’s tribe gave pounamu as a gesture of peace to another tribe after a dispute over his beautiful Mum’s body.

As a child I grew up on top of a hill where once stood a Maori pa site. A pounamu mere (a short flat club carved in the shape of a tear drop) was found in my father’s vegetable garden. (It was given to the local museum.)

Pounamu is smooth and cool to the touch. It has a depth of pattern, as though looking into the deepest green waters. In The Pounamu Prophecy, Helene, one of the characters, experiences the cool, soothing effect of this remarkable stone. It is a stone that one could readily endow with spiritual qualities but as Helene is reminded by her friend, Mere, ‘It is not the stone, but the maker of the stone that gives us peace.’

Shalom. Kia tau te rangi marie.


Two unlikely foods that reduce belly fat

Posted on : 05-02-2015 | By : Cindy | In : Super-healthy...er...stuff



Belly fat or more scientifically, central obesity, is the most dangerous for health. It wraps around our vital organs and plays havoc with our metabolism. It increases our risk of heart disease and diabetes, amongst others.

You may think that carrot sticks and salads are the only way to get rid of that tummy bulge. They will certainly help but even more so if you add a handful of nuts to your salad and douse it with olive oil. Eating foods high in healthy fats makes it easier to resist those ‘naughty’ foods – you know, the cakes, biscuits, choc bars, white bread jam sandwiches and fizzy drinks. Of course if you wanted to you could stuff these foods in as well and end up expanding your waistline even more. The idea is to add nuts and olive oil in so you can enjoy your moderately sized meals and not feel hungry until the next meal time.

So how much are we talking about? The studies used 30 grams or a small handful of plain, unsalted nuts a day and around a litre of olive oil a week.

Now before you rush out to buy a barrel of olive oil, remember that small changes are much better than drastic diets that you soon tire of. Lots of little changes soon add up to make a big difference.It works with writing novels (lots of small sessions of writing rather than the odd enormous effort) and it works with healthy eating and living.

To reduce belly fat, try these ideas.

* Sit less, move more (Harvard School of Public Health says that reducing sit time is just as important as increasing fit time.)

* Less screen time

* Add a few nuts to your lunch-box

* Sprinkle nuts on your salad or stir fry

* Make Swiss Muesli with chopped apple and almonds

* Try carrot salad – grated carrot mixed with chopped garlic, lemon juice and olive oil – A winner for people who don’t like carrot sticks!

* Roast vegetables – beetroot, carrot, zucchini  in olive oil. Sprinkle with spices e.g. ras el hanout and toss with chickpeas (search Quinoa Roast Vege Salad recipe)

* Mix olive oil with either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Add some chopped garlic or a generous dollop of mustard and pour over salads or steamed green beans or asparagus.