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The Pounamu Prophecy - birth of a book 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...


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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Healthy chocolate brownie

Posted on : 16-07-2011 | By : Cindy | In : My idiot-proof recipes, Snacks


Chocolate brownie is popular with adults and kids alike. But it is usually packed full of fat, sugar and calories. Here is a quick, healthier version adapted from the Healthy Food Guide chocolate brownie. This version uses wholemeal flour which gives an extra nutty flavour and texture that goes well with the walnuts. It has no butter which slashes the saturated fat to almost zero while the walnuts provide a few healthy omega 3 fats. Both the walnuts and wholemeal flour add fibre which hopefully prevents a complete pig-out of this yummy treat! The best thing about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to whip up. Give it a go…

Chocolate – don’t share it with your pet!

Posted on : 19-03-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Food safety, Snacks


In the story of Winnie-the-Pooh, Pooh Bear gets stuck in Rabbit’s hole and has to lose weight so he can become unstuck. Rabbit puts up a sign which says “Don’t Feed the Bear”. At Easter, all families with a dog need a similar sign attached to their chocolate Easter Eggs: “Don’t Feed the Dog.”

Animals can die from eating chocolate. They are sensitive to theobromine – a compound similar to caffeine. Compared to humans, animals metabolise theobromine more slowly which means it stays in their body for much longer. Even a small amount of chocolate may be enough to cause vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and even death.

Chocolate – great if you’re rowing across the Atlantic!

Posted on : 14-07-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Snacks, Special diets, Training, exercise & workouts


“Chocolate is actually quite good for you,” my ten-year-old niece informed me yesterday. “It’s got iron and calcium in it.” “Not much,” I replied, bursting her hopeful bubble. What it does have is stacks of kilojoules (calories) which is why we’re meant to keep it for occasional treats… unless you plan to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

paddleMy cousin, Rob Hamill, and his rowing mate, Phil Stubbs, ate around 350 Cadbury chocolate bars during their world record breaking 41 days rowing from the Canary Islands, Spain to Antigua. “We could have eaten 12 (50g blocks) a day but we had to ration them,” he told me. Rowing two hours on, two hours off, they needed all the energy they could get. Chocolate, with 30% fat and 60% sugar was ideal – along with cereal and milk powder, macaroni cheese, fruit paste energy bars and heaps of fluid replacement drinks.

Never one to sit still for too long, Rob has taken on many challenges since the Atlantic race. But perhaps his greatest challenge is the current one – meeting and testifying at the trial of the man who tortured and executed his brother during the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. Chocolate won’t give him the strength he needs to meet this challenge – he needs something more than food. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Rob.

Oh – and if you want to know the calcium and iron content of chocolate… To get as much calcium as in a glass of milk you need to eat five big blocks (about 1kg) of dark chocolate or a 150g block of milk chocolate. And our body doesn’t absorb calcium so well from chocolate as from milk. With iron, dark chocolate actually has quite a bit – 2.3mg iron per 100g. That’s pretty close to lean beef at 3mg per 100 grams. But there are two big differences: how much is absorbed and how many kilojoules each has. Iron in meat is far more easily absorbed than iron in chocolate, and 100 grams of chocolate has 2230kJ (530cal) compared to 770kJ (180cal) in 100 grams of lean beef.

For most of us who will never row across the Atlantic, it’s best to eat small amounts of chocolate for pleasure, not nutrition!

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Read about the making of  “Brother Number One” – a documentary about my cousin Rob’s journey to Cambodia to confront what happened to his brother at the time of Pol Pot.

Follow up: 18/8/2009 –  Rob at S-21 commander Duch’s UN trial in Cambodia.

Totally unhealthy boys’ birthday bash and smash!

Posted on : 05-07-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Cakes, Colourful taste, For the boys


cpin cakeI’m finally relaxing after 24 hours of baking pita bread pizzas, chicken nibbles, iced cup-cakes, choc-chip cookies, citrus slice and of course, birthday cake. This was no ordinary cake, it was a Pinata cake and totally not healthy. Oh well, it was my son’s 8th birthday and I don’t think he and his 12 friends would have appreciated carrot sticks and egg sandwiches!

Back to the Pinata cake: it’s a basic round cake with a hollow cut in the centre. You ice the whole thing with decadent chocolate butter icing and pile up rainbow choc-chips and gold chocolate coins in the centre. Then you melt a pack of chocolate melts and swirl the chocolate around a metal basin until it sets. I left it in the freezer overnight then this morning placed it over the cake, loosening the chocolate shell from the basin with my hair blow-dryer. Then I melted even more chocolate to stick M&M’s all over the shell. If you want the full recipe, it’s in the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘kids’ birthday cakes’ recipe book.

What more could a bunch of hyped 8-year-old boys want than a cake filled with chocolate and lollies that you get to smash open!

Oh, I did have one token to healthy eating: a basket of mandarins. They looked great on the table and I think someone even ate one!