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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...


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The Pounamu Prophecy – birth of a book

Posted on : 06-09-2015 | By : Cindy | In : Event buzz, New Zealand



Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That’s the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy – my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving countries several times, childbirth, motherhood, nutrition work and the plain fact that I am a very slow writer!

Writing a first novel is like setting yourself an assignment with no deadline, that likely no-one else is interested in. There is no weekly pay cheque, no emotional massage of ego, and no-one who is interested in listening to your struggles over character, perspective or plot. It wasn’t until I joined a writer’s group that the gestation of The Pounamu Prophecy started to pick up pace. A good writer’s group is a ‘god-send’ and I would never have finished this book without the encouragement and brutal honesty of my writer’s group. They do not let me get away with anything!

Everything about this book has been slow. The title, as I mentioned in a previous post, changed four times. The cover also took months of back and forth design options and a couple of mad dashes up to the point above Mission Bay in Auckland to get the perfect photo. Early one morning, after dropping my husband at the airport for a 6am flight, I had driven up to the point and taken some shots with my iPhone in the hope that they might work as a cover design. The publisher liked them and asked for a high res photo but I had already left Auckland. I desperately called my brother, asking him to take the picture at the same time and in the same place that I had stood. In between ward rounds, an exam and a four hour drive, he managed to do it and I am eternally grateful. In the end, the publisher miracuously found the same shot on Getty Images and that is what is on the cover.

The Pounamu Prophecy owes its existence to many people: the writing group, my brother, Rhiza Press for editing out all the cringe-worthy stuff, the other publishers who sent the most encouraging comments along with their answer of ‘No’, the elders at Ngati Whatua who graciously answered all my questions, my father-in-law who guided me in all things Maori, my husband and sister-in-law for the beautiful face on the cover, and my other sister-in-law for the title-inspiring gin and tonics on a balcony in Bangkok!

The Pounamu Prophecy comes out in October with an author talk/launch at Balmain Library, Sydney on 12 November. I hope and pray that those who read it will be encouraged, inspired and entertained.

Kia hora te marino, kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, kia tere te karohirohi. May the calm be widespread, may the surface of the ocean glisten like greenstone and may the shimmer of summer dance across your path forever.

Gluten free Italian almond biscuits

Posted on : 15-07-2015 | By : Cindy | In : My idiot-proof recipes



Amaretti are my favourite biscuit, not only because they taste delicious but also because they are so easy to make and pretty healthy – as far as biscuits go.

It’s not the gluten free bit that makes them healthy, although it does come in handy with the current popularity of eating ‘gluten free’. No, what makes them healthy is the fibre and unsaturated fats from the almonds – essential for beautiful skin, hair and nails, girls!

In this recipe I have reduced the sugar by almost half. Most amaretti recipes use equal proportions of ground almonds and sugar but they taste just as good with less.

With this recipe your hands are your utensils – no mixing spoons. It’s a little like re-living that wonderful childhood pastime of squishing mud between your fingers. Just make sure you don’t have to answer your phone! Pop them into the oven for five minutes and you have the perfect treat for the lunchbox or with a strong Italian coffee.

400g pack ground almonds

2 small cups of sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

Dash almond essence

4 egg whites (I make custard with the leftover egg yolks)

Icing sugar

Mix almonds and sugar in a large bowl with your hands. Add essences, then egg whites. Mix with hands. (It feels all squidgy like a kid playing in mud!)

Sprinkle icing sugar on bench. Roll a portion of almond mix into a sausage shape. Coat in icing sugar. Cut into 2cm pieces.

Place baking paper on flat trays. Stand each biscuit upright on tray and press down with fingers to make a nice, uneven shape.

Bake at 170-180 5-6 minutes until just beginning to crack

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.