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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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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.



Going nuts with Paul West of River Cottage Australia

Posted on : 31-05-2014 | By : Cindy | In : Super-healthy...er...stuff


nut1“Would you like some nuts? I have just arrived at the Sydney Cooking School and am being welcomed with a bowl of enticingly fresh nuts. I pick out a macadamia. “They’re my favorite too,” says a friendly bloke with a beard. He pops one in his mouth. I soon discover that he is Paul West, the amiable and very relaxed presenter of the popular foodie show, River Cottage.

For the next few hours our little group of food writers and dietitians sit around a long wooden table laden with every type of tree nut, both in the shell and out of the shell. I recognize all the nuts out of their shells but it’s a different story seeing them in their shells. So often we buy nuts already shelled which means that their healthy unsaturated fats turn rancid quite quickly. “Keep your nuts in a sealed jar in the fridge or freezer,” the Nuts For Life people tell us. I dutifully do just that as soon as I arrive home with the enormous glass jar of nuts they give us.

Baby’s First Foods

Posted on : 11-04-2014 | By : Cindy | In : Babies, Kids nutrition



When my baby hit six months I freaked out. Breast feeding had been easy – no planning or thought. Now I had to start cooking for this tiny human and my brain was still in sleep deprived mush. So I dug up all the articles I had ever written about feeding babies to remind myself what to do!! Advice has changed since then so The New Zealand Healthy Food Guide (a great magazine which you can read online) asked me to write an update to the fraught subject of Baby’s First Foods. Here is a shortened version of it.

When should I start giving my baby solids?

Start your baby on solids at around six months. As with adults every baby is different and some may need solids a little earlier but definitely not before four months of age.

Starting solids too early (before 4 months) will stress your baby’s immature digestive system and kidneys, and increase the risk of developing eczema, asthma, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease or food allergy.  If food replaces some of the milk at this early age, your baby may miss out on vital nutrients and energy for growth.

A full term baby is born with enough iron and zinc stores to last around six months. Around the six month mark it is very important that your baby start to eat some iron rich foods. Breast milk contains just small amounts of iron. More than 90% of a breast fed baby’s iron requirements must come from food once the initial iron stores are used up. Starting solids later than six months also increases your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy.

Breast milk is the number one source of nutrients and energy for babies. Babies should be exclusively breast fed for around six months and ideally during the introduction of new foods.


What should I start with?
Most mums start off with an iron rich food such as iron-fortified baby rice cereal thinned with breast milk or infant formula.