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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...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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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Life on the other side of the ‘ditch’

Posted on : 30-09-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling

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When I first moved from New Zealand to Australia I assumed that hopping across ‘the ditch’ (Tasman Sea) would be just like moving to another part of New Zealand. How wrong I was. Australia is bigger, brighter and bolder – the multi-coloured birds squawk louder, the television reporters like to chase their reluctant interviewees down the street shouting things like “You can run but ya can’t hide, mate” and the prawns are enormous.

After four and a half years back in New Zealand we have skipped over the ditch yet again – this time to Sydney. It’s great to be in an Aussie supermarket again – like coming home! That warm weather up north means I can buy fresh local mangoes and melons – delicious. In New Zealand I tried to buy only Kiwi grown produce but now I’m in Australia it will be only Aussie-grown for me.

Today we took the light rail tram to Sydney’s Fish Markets. We followed the signs but could just as easily have followed our noses. Over the concrete floors we splashed past bright blue spanner crabs, gigantic snapper, boxes of sardines so fresh they looked as though they might jump out, piles of squirmy octopus, and bright red crayfish. An Asian man gently prodded a pile of whole fish, carefully selecting the freshest one.

What I didn’t realise was that you can eat there. With this discovery I hastily discarded the original idea to buy fish and cook it for dinner. Why risk setting off the smoke alarm by cooking in the apartment’s not non-stick fry-pan? I did that last time we stayed here – and that alarm is very loud! So we ordered a piece of grilled snapper, a piece of grilled gem-fish and four prawns on a skewer, sat down with our plastic forks and had fish for morning tea.

Our fish eating wasn’t yet over for the day. After more exploring and lots of walking we headed back to the Vietnamese cafe next to our apartment for the most enormous prawn and egg spring rolls. These are the healthy, not deep fried, type and I am inspired to try making them. All the ingredients are at the Asian supermarket across the road but I don’t have a recipe.

Highlights of a Kiwi long weekend

Posted on : 17-11-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling

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ice cream-vert“Sshh, I think it’s a kiwi.” We stopped on the bush track, silent, listening to the rhythmical scuffling in the bush a few metres away. We couldn’t see anything but I’m sure it was a kiwi. “They’ve let about 100 into the bush around here,” my mum told us later. We were walking the Kohi Point track from Whakatane to Ohope Beach – a 2-3 hour walk along a ridge that was once a Maori pa site. Up and down through native bush, along a coastal path high above secluded beaches and rock pools, down into Otarawairere Bay, accessible only by boat or steep walking track, and up and over a final killer hill to Ohope Beach. we stopped a few more times along our walk to hear the same scuffling noise, to admire the breath-taking view and to allow my almost 80-year-old dad to catch his breath on the steep parts. Mind you he beat me on the downhill and rocky parts. As sure-footed as a mountain goat he traversed the sea battered rocks along Otarawairere Beach with ease. That was this morning.

Now I’m writing this post sipping coffee and nibbling my mum’s pineapple fruit cake. Spread out before me is a 180 degree vista of garden, ocean and islands. White Island – an active volcano about 30km offshore – is quiet today. Not even a whiff of smoke so the visitors won’t need to wear gas masks today. Yes – this is one live volcano you can walk around. To the left is Whale Island (Mohutaroa) and further away the Rurimu’s – a government protected sanctuary for the endangered tuatara lizard.

We’ve stopped off in Whakatane on our way home from a weekend in Gisborne. It’s a two hour drive from Gisborne to Whakatane past vineyards, citrus and kiwifruit orchards, up over the often treacherous East Coast ranges and down the winding Waioeka Gorge. I still can’t imaging how my grandfather cycled this route for business – it’s bad enough in the car. Perhaps it explains why his son is still such a ‘mountain goat’ at almost 80 and his grandsons’ (my brothers) idea of relaxation is a 70km bike ride or a 20km jog.

So what about the food highlights of this long weekend? “Write about my poached eggs and hot chocolate, Mummy,” my son suggested. He was talking about our late breakfast stop at Woodturners Cafe about an hour’s drive from Auckland on the road to Ngatea/Paeroa. It’s my favourite place to stop when heading south. The coffee is good, the eggs are free range and the delicious bread takes three hours to bake every morning.

“How do you make your bread?” I asked the owner. “It’s a secret,” she replied. “Lots of people ask us for the recipe. All I can tell you is that we use a variety of flours and seeds but it’s not gluten free,” she apologised. Gluten or not, it sounds healthy to me. “Can I feed the animals,” my son asked as he scooped gooey melted chocolate from the bottom of his cup. For $1 you can get a bag of pellets to feed the plump pampered chickens, the baying donkeys and the hungry horses. If you don’t like getting your hands dirty then try your hand at life-sized drafts or just sit at the outdoor tables and enjoy the gardens and paddocks beyond.

The Blueberry Corner, just outside Whakatane is our other favourite place to stop. Blueberry season is early this year so although it’s only mid-November the blueberries are sweet and delicious. We eat them like lollies. Actually, who would want to touch a lolly when you can eat these super-yummy, super-healthy berries packed full of antioxidants. We’ll be buying more on our way home – but I doubt they will last the 4-hour journey!

Right now I’m off to pick lemons and grapefruit. It’s a lot more fun than driving to the fruit shop. I’ll be doing that soon enough back in Auckland. Bye….

Qantas kids meals get the thumbs up

Posted on : 12-09-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Kids nutrition, Snacks, Travelling

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air3“I hope you’re going to wipe that off before it dries.” The Qantas attendant smiled at my son who had carefully smeared chocolate ice-cream all over his face, military commando style, and was grinning proudly, waiting for my reaction. I laughed and fished in my handbag to find a mirror so he could admire his handiwork. Then we wiped it off before it set in the dry cabin air. I guess that’s one way to entertain yourself on a long flight!

My first impression of the Qantas kids meals was that they must have had a dietitian to advise them. There wasn’t a chip, fatty salty cracker, fatty sweet biscuit or lolly to be seen. On our flight from Auckland to Sydney the child’s meal was chicken with a fresh tomato sauce, rice and broccoli plus vegetable sticks with hummus to dip them in. The bread roll was wholemeal and the dessert was yoghurt, carton of fruit and a healthy muesli bar. It looked and tasted good – it’s a mummy’s prerogative to try her child’s meal, of course!

Our breakfast flights were just as good with healthy high fibre cereal, milk, bread roll and fruit. I’m really impressed that Qantas give the children cartons of Just Juice Splash. It is basically diluted fruit juice – ideal for kids. Our only disappointment was getting sausages, mashed potato and peas on two flights. I guess they are on the menu because most kids love sausages even though they are full of salt, preservative and saturated fat. My son traded them for his dad’s cheese and chocolate – and everyone was happy. It is so nice to finally see some children’s meals made with real food rather than junky, snack foods.

Congratulations, Qantas.

My choicest distraction: travelling – today it’s Sydney Australia!

Posted on : 29-08-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling

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syd“Can we get on the plane yet?” were the first words my son uttered when he jumped out of bed and woke me up this morning. Boy, talk about keen! It’s in the blood mind you, I love to travel. Today we are off to one of the worlds most beautiful cities, Sydney! I always love going there. One of my treats will be to try the Longrain Thai restaurant in Surrey Hills – last time my husband was in Sydney he said it was different and absolutely sensational, so now it’s my turn! Will keep you posted about that and other food adventures with pics from my travels, Cindy …

Followup  :  Pics from Sydney

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