Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coffee brownies and coconut cake

I've been baking sourdough bread from a homemade starter about once a week for a couple of months. This week was my first real success, and I'm very excited. It is one of my two SCD cheats (the other is cocoa) - in small quantities, properly prepared grains don't seem to be causing my digestive system any harm.

I've been reading a lot about bread-making to get to a recipe which works - mine seems to require much longer cooking time than most people say, and much less water than the original recipe I was using. Normally, when I try a recipe and it just doesn't work, I either give up on it and go on to something else on my list, or I try again and hope something works out differently. What the sourdough experience has taught me is not to give up on recipes that have something good going for them, and instead, think about what isn't right and give them a tweak and try again.

I've done this with a few recipes recently, and have been very happy with my results on just the second attempt. With both, I found the original recipe to be too wet - in one, I upped the coconut flour and in the other, I reduced the liquid. I also played with the flavours a little, less sweetness, more spice, to suit my taste. Without further ado, here they are

Coffee brownies
Find the original here

2 cups cooked red lentils
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup hot espresso coffee
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted or coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt

The day before, put about 1 cup of red lentils to soak (make sure you use a much bigger contained, as the will expand to over two cups before you are done). Soak for at least 12 hours. 

Rinse thoroughly, and then cook the lentils in fresh water until well cooked (maybe around 15 mins). Drain, and then leave to sit in a sieve for another hour to get some more of the moisture out.

Brew a cup of coffee, and pour over the dates. Leave to sit for about 5 mins.

Preheat oven to 175C. Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside.

In a large food processor, combine the lentils, dates, cocoa and cinnamon and enough of the coffee that it all moves around. (You could put in all of the coffee at this stage, but my food processor doesn't deal with liquid very well, and if you put much in, it goes everywhere!) Blend until smooth (at least 5 minutes).

Add the eggs, and blend until combined. Then add the coconut flour and blend again. 

[If you want a denser, more mudcake-like cake, don't add the eggs until the next stage where you are hand-mixing the ingredients, so that you don't beat in too much air. You can also reduce the bicarb to as little as 1/2 tsp]

From here, I move the mixture to a large mixing bowl. If your food processor is big enough, and can deal with liquid, just keep going in that. Add the butter, honey, remaining coffee, bicarb (sift this in so it doesn't stay in lumps) and vanilla and stir to combine. Throw in a handful of nuts (I used walnuts, macadamias would also be good) at this stage if you want to.

Pour the batter into the lined baking dish, and cook for about 40 minutes. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean when it is done. 

Coconut cake
Find the original here

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup almond meal
3 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/3 cup yoghurt
1/3 cup melted butter, cooled
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
Seeds from 1/2 a vanilla pod

Pour boiling water over shredded coconut and leave to sit.

Preheat over to 175C. Line a 8' by 8' cake pan with baking paper.

Mix almond flour, coconut flour, bicarb and salt together.

When the boiling water has cooled enough not to cook the eggs, add the eggs, butter, yoghurt, honey and vanilla to the coconut and stir to combine. Pour into the flour mixture and mix together.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in pan.

Enjoy, sitting inside in the warm and dry, while listening to the patter of rain on the roof, hot cup of tea in one hand and a good book in the other.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A blogging come back, and something hot and spicy for Valentine's day

Even though it is still summer, it is beginning to feel like we are well on the way to autumn already. Grey skies and rain, a nip of chill to the air most evenings, pumpkins ripening on the vine and the impending return of all of the pumpkin recipes I love, with the added pleasure of making them with home-grown pumpkins. The fruits of summer are still happening in the garden though - tomatoes, chillies and zucchinis - the former mostly still waiting to ripen, the latter two producing prolifically.

I've been preoccupied for quite some time, overseas holiday, work, garden, karate, jujitsu, relish-making and preserving, but was shocked to find that I haven't posted anything since last July! Since then, I've confirmed that my UC is in remission, and to celebrate the 3 month anniversary of that exciting news, I decided to introduce cocoa into my diet. Digestively, it has gone very well, but if I eat it more than occasionally, unfortunate skin reactions start to occur. So it is reserved for special occasions.

When I saw the theme for this month's go ahead honey it's gluten free, hot, spicy and heart shaped by Heather of Gluten Free Cat, I was inspired to try out something chocolately for Valentine's Day that I've been mulling over for some time. It covers 'hot' and 'spicy', and if I'd been organised enough, I could have managed the heart-shaped too… maybe next year.

Credit for the underlying idea has to go to Naomi - I've made an SCD+cocoa variation of this recipe a couple of times when I have had days of karate training - it can be difficult to get enough energy to keep going through the day, getting up at 5am to start training at 6, and I can happily confirm that these do the trick. They have a much higher ratio of fat to nuts compared to most energy bars out there, so they are packed with calories without the digestive problems that come with nuts. And they are so tasty I can happily eat them, even when I really don't feel like eating, and the mere thought of my usual go to energy foods (like avocado) make me feel sick.

Beyond being excellent energy bars, using the cocoa butter finely chopped, rather than melted, adds a lovely bitty texture, with the coconut oil holding the other ingredients together.

Ginger noms and choc-chilli noms
(nom is my favourite word to describe generic tasty food, particularly sweet things. It's late, and I'm not feeling very original right now!)


Nom base:
60g cocoa butter
60g dried dates
90g cashews
35g coconut oil

Choc-chilli additions:
5 green cardamom pods (seeds ground with a pinch of salt)
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa 
1 hot red chilli

Ginger additions:
1 heaped tablespoon finely diced glace ginger (to make an SCD version, just peel and chop the ginger, cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, drain and repeat 3 times, then add enough honey to cover, and put back over a low heat, stirring every so often until the honey is absorbed and coats the ginger pieces. You can save the water for a ginger cordial. You could also do the same to the chillies for sweeter, less spicy effect)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Roughly chop the cocoa butter by hand, then add to a food processor with the dates and cashews. Blitz until everything is finely chopped, but not powder. Add the coconut oil and blitz again until everything just holds together.

Divide the mixture between two bowls.

To the first, add the cardamom, cocoa and finely chopped chilli. Stir to combine.

To the second, add the glace ginger, ground ginger and cinnamon. Stir to combine. (cocoa would almost certainly be good in this one too!)

Spoon each of the mixtures into little (ideally heart shaped) moulds, press down firmly, then refrigerate until set.

Share with someone special, with a little glass of something robust (a nice whiskey perhaps?), to complement the rich flavours. Or eat them all yourself in the same fashion, or just lick the mixture off the spoon before moulding and refrigerating… so long as you have plans to work it off later!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Overwhelmed! (and sweet chilli sauce)

Ben (my other half) read a book or article or something on psychology, and how men and women mean different things when they say the same words. It was pretty corny and I can't remember many examples, but one thing stuck with us both: often women are simply overwhelmed and need a hug! Cringe-worthy, but right now, it is exactly how I feel.

Yesterday was moving house day. When the removalists arrived, we were just realising that the rest of our stuff was not going to be just one car more and trailer load, and that we'd have to come back for a second load. When we got back for the second load, the cleaners arrives 3 hours earlier than arranged, and started cleaning around us while we were still packing. (They did do a fantastic job though!). Then there is the fact that the lounge room floor in the new house is still not finished. Oh, and I have a sinus infection.

So half our furniture is still in the garage, most of our other stuff is in the attic or in the garage, we can't use the toilet for the next 24 hours, have no showerscreen, or kitchen splashbacks, and have built in wardrobes with no doors.

But it's home. I love our new king size bed (mostly assembled, at least enough to sleep on) and latex mattress, and new bedlinen. And the gas cooktop is fantastic (at least the 3/5 of the gas rings that are working...). The tiling in the bathroom is beautiful, and I can't wait for it to be warm enough to go out in the garden.

For now, I'm exhausted and ready for bed, so a very token recipe. I've been missing that very fake sweet chilli sauce, you know the bright red one with lots of seeds in, for a while now, and the other day I had a stab at it, and it worked remarkably well.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

750mls apple cider vinegar
500gms honey
3 red capsicums
3 long red chillies

Add vinegar and honey to a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Cut the flesh from the capsicums and chillies and roughly chop. Put them into a food processor and puree.

Add them to the saucepan. If you like the look or texture of seeds in your sweet chilli sauce, add the capsicum seeds to the saucepan as well. (Use the chilli ones if you want it hotter).

Gently simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce darkens and thickens. Pour into a sterilised bottle.

Keeps in the fridge for at least 3 weeks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Renovation disasters and internet scams

Okay, so disasters is probably overstating it, but they did all feel like disasters at the time, like when I realised that the bath and the vanity unit we had bought would only allow a 35cm gap to walk through to get to the toilet! (yes, I checked the sizes of the bath and vanity with the renovators before getting them, but apparently they didn't check the plans before confirming the size was okay. And I didn't check the plan either - I'll know better next time).

And then there was the call telling me that the door into the bathroom is not where it is marked on the plan. Not surprising really, plan of what is meant to be there, not what is there now. Surely they could tell that by looking at the plan and seeing one door marked, then looking at the wall and seeing two doors... Apparently they hadn't, and didn't think that moving the door was part of what they had agreed to do, despite agreeing to the plan with the door marked in a different spot. But they did eventually move the door.

And there was the wrong, (very, very blue) feature tiles turning up. At least we caught them before they stuck them on the walls.

Oh, and when we asked when they would need to replacement vanity by, they told us 2 days after they'd previously agreed they'd be finished.

But given all that, we amazingly look set for our planned 27 July move in date! I can't wait to use my new 5 burner gas cook top, extra wide oven, lovely deep bath, and new king size bed.

So, as we had to get a second vanity, I've been trying to sell the first one. I listed it on a couple of classifieds sites. A couple of days went by and I heard nothing. Then some guy emails me asking if it is still for sale. I say yes, and for him to let me know when he wants to come and look at it.

He tells me he is an oceanographer and is at sea at the moment and is buying it for his dad. Could I just send him some photos? So I took some photos, and he replied saying he'd transferred me $700 on paypal. I was asking $450, and the extra $200 was to pay someone to pick it up and $50 for the western union money transfer. Now, this is a vanity with an RRP of $799, and he's paying $750 for a second hand one, that he hasn't even seen. And apparently, I was meant to transfer $200 to someone (in Italy?!) before the paypal payment would be released. And his English is pretty bad... And then there was two fake, but fairly convincing emails, purporting to be from paypal, telling me they were holding money in escrow for me, pending me sending them the western union money transfer receipt number.

At this point, I decided to just ignore it, but he emailed be again tonight, asking why he hadn't heard anything from me. I considered just ignoring it, but then decided to respond that I wouldn't be transferring any money until I had received payment. Very promptly after that, I received another fake paypal email with the subject

***Money Guaranteed**Transfer Funds Immediately***

telling me:

Be aware that you are 100% safe with PayPal and you do not need to worry about anything concerning this transaction as we are currently holding the money and it's pending and ready to be credited into your account therefore you should make proper arrangements with the buyer on how to get the $200.00AUD sent to the address given to you so that we could be able to credit your account after you have sent us a copy of the WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER details given to you at the western union store where you sent the money.

And this was almost immediately followed by another email from the guy, saying he hoped I'd got the email from paypal confirming payment had been made. I'm kind of curious how long they'll persist. I can see that they might have a fairly decent hit rate on the original attempt, but I would have thought that, once they'd been called, they'd give up pretty quickly. Will have to wait and see...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lazy weeknight curries

Towards the end of my 3 weeks free of dairy, eggs, nuts, fruit and honey, I ran out of in season vegetables to add to my diet, so I decided to start of spices. While I've gained a greater appreciation of cooking without herbs and spices, just letting the flavours of the ingredients speak for themselves with the aid of a good chicken stock, I also find I miss foods with a bit more punch. Cumin, coriander, ginger and turmeric were all successfully added, and I'd decided it was just about time to take a baby step in the direction of nuts, so I whipped up a quick batch of coconut milk, and decided to try something vaguely Thai styled.

I've recently started buying my meat from a local butcher, who does fantastic discounts on bulk purchases, and free delivery on orders over $80. He seems to be able to get in just about anything (for example, suet for my fruit mince and Christmas pudding last year, which I hadn't been able to find anywhere), and almost everything is grass fed and free range. Because of this, I've been eating a lot more pork than in the past. It's seems to be fairly easy to find free range chicken and beef, but pork has been much more difficult to get hold of, so I've tended not to eat it much.

So I had some pork mince (minus the little bit for the kitten, who tells me that pork is her favourite food! nom, nom, nom, purr), and could eat some spices and had a batch of coconut milk soaking (I don't use a recipe for this, just chuck dessicated coconut in with some boiling water - at a guess maybe a cup of dessicated coconut to 750mls water). Then is was just a matter of scouring the bottom of the fridge for the remnants of vegetables from last weeks shopping, before the arrival of the groceries for the new week. I found: 2 carrots, an onion, 5-6 mushrooms, 2 zucchini and some green beans.

So more a method than a recipe:

Pork green curry

Dice the vegetables, while preheating a wok or large frying pan, and start some coconut milk. 

Add a heaped teaspoon of cumin, coriander, ground ginger and turmeric (and chilli, if you feel so inclined) to the wok and toast for a few seconds before adding and browning the pork mince (about 600g). 

Once cooked, remove it from the pan, then added the longer cooking time veg
gies (onion, carrot and beans in this case) and cook until they were most of the way done, then added the shorter cooking veggies (here the zucchini and mushrooms).

Add the pork back to the pan together with some coconut milk and chicken stock, enough to make a good sauce for the curry. Add some salt before serving. Serve with fresh coriander, crushed nuts, and/or a wedge of lime.

More recently, I had put all of the ingredients for yummy lemon-thyme lamb shanks (which I'll post another time, I promise) into my slow cooker, but forgotten to turn it on before leaving for work. In arriving home, I noticed the absence of the smell of dinner as I walked in the door. Disappointment!

I had to come up with something, and quick, because I was starving. I remembered there were some little frozen prawns in the freezer, about the only thing there I could easily use from frozen. Next, the fridge turned up some zucchinis, carrots, a leek, a bunch of spinach, and some green beans. Again, you can throw this together with pretty much anything you've got.

Prawn Laksa

Chop your veggies (I sliced the leek in rounds, chopped the beans in half, washed and destemmed the spinach, and julienned the carrots and zucchini with my julienne peeler). In the mean time, preheat a wok or large saucepan, and get some coconut milk happening.

Add a heaped teaspoon of cumin, coriander, ground ginger and turmeric (and chilli, if you feel so inclined) to the wok and toast for a few seconds before adding some oil, and the veggies that need frying (I threw in the leek and beans). At the same time, put the julienne carrots in a steamer.

When the frying veggies are well on the way to being cooked, add a good amount of coconut milk and chicken stock (maybe 1.5 - 2 litres in total). Add the zucchini to the steamer, and the prawns to the wok. Stir through the spinach just before everything else is done. Add some salt before serving.

Serve noodles into deep preheated bowls, and top with the laksa. Serve with crushed nuts, coriander and/or a wedge of lime or lemon.

Enjoy! (Both were even better reheated for lunch the next day)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My life has been sugar (ie sucrose) free for almost 18 months, but more recently, I've also almost completely eliminated anything sweet. No fruit, no honey, the closest thing to dessert I had in 3 weeks was soup made from butternut pumpkin and carrots and seasoned with coconut oil and nutmeg. This was to get the healing from my latest flare into the fast lane. I also eliminated eggs, nuts and dairy, as per Jordan and Steve's four horsemen.

Two interesting observations arose from this experience. After a couple of days, I had no sugar cravings at all. And my sense of what is sweet has totally changed.

After 3 weeks and now feeling really good, I decided to have a play with some very low sugar confectionery  This fits in well with the theme of this months Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free, It All Ends here (a la the final Harry Potter film), hosted by Diane of the Whole Gang.

My aim for my confectionery was to keep the fat content as high as possible (I'm still trying to regain a few more kilos), and the sugar as low as possible (as I'm still aiming to minimise the amounts of inflammatory foods in my diet).

My first port of call was coconut oil - I love the taste of the oil, and it combines well with other flavours. So my starting point was to melt coconut oil, a tiny amount of honey and some lemon oil. I have to say, I thought it was pretty good at the time, but now I realise I was just in a totally sugar deprived state and anything vaguely sweet tasted good. So I had to branch out a bit more for the next attempt. This brought to mind coconut concentrate. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is basically finely ground coconut meat. It has a very high fat content (around 70% I think), and is also fairly grainy, kind of like coconut flour. It is solid a room temperature, and if you want to melt it, you have to do so on a really low heat, otherwise it burns.

I find it convenient to melt a lot of it at a time (I get in in 1kg bags) and pour it in to ice cube trays to have convenient little portions of it, which I throw into anything in which you might use coconut milk. (I do the same thing with coconut oil (in winter, when it is solid at room temperature) and cocoa butter too).

Anyway, back to the confectionary. I did go through a phase of just eating the ice cubes of coconut concentrate - I find there is something oddly appealing about the grainy thick texture, and the coconut flavour is really strong, and it has something candy-like about it, even though it isn't sweet. So, I figured it's 70% coconut oil, why not dilute it with more coconut oil to keep the coconutty flavour, but minimise the grainy texture (and the fibre content). I've concluded that a ratio of 2:1 oil to concentrate is my preferred ratio, and that it needs minimal honey - maybe a teaspoonful to a cup of coconut mixture. But I think the quantities are very much a matter of personal taste, so here's the method; play around with the ratios as you see fit

Coconut candy
Coconut oil
Coconut concentrate
Flavour oil (optional)

Melt the oil and the honey on a low heat. Remove from the heat and add the coconut concentrate. Cover and leave until it is all melted (if the concentrate does not melt, you can place the whole lot over a very low heat, but watch it carefully). At this stage add the flavouring if you want to. I have done lemon and orange oil, both if which are nice, but possibly a little subtle against the strong coconut flavour. I think mint might be good, but don't have any oil to try it out.

Bearing in mind that you have 3 substances, all with different melting points, the trick is to get everything thoroughly combined and then into moulds before it sets. If you have the time and the patience, I recommend allowing it to cool at room temperature as this give you a lot more time in which the mixture is at a temperature that it will thoroughly combine. If you cool it in the fridge or freezer, you might miss the moment and end up with a triple layer effect with sticky honey on the bottom, and not be able to spoon it into the moulds.

Either way, stir it regularly (more often the colder the temperature) and when it starts to turn into a paste, check whether the honey is settling out at the bottom. If it is, leave to cool a little longer. 

Once the ingredients are able to be thoroughly combined, spoon it into moulds (chocolate moulds, ice cubes, or just spread as a block onto greaseproof paper). Leave until thoroughly set, or refrigerate depending on the ambient temperature.

Serve after dinner with a good black coffee.

Vaguely chocolate like confectionary

(sorry for the long winded name, but I do get annoyed at the SCD thing of saying 'this is just like X' and then making it, and it isn't much like X at all. Particularly when what you've made is tasty in it's own right. So this is somewhat chocolately, but I'm not going to call it chocolate)

Cocoa butter
Ghee (you could probably use unsalted butter, but I'm not eating butter at the moment. If you want to make your own ghee, check out how here.

Again, the quantities are somewhat in your hands. I've found a ratio of 1:1 cocoa butter to ghee gives a fairly smooth buttery consistency. (My previous attempt of 1:2 resulted in something much too reminiscent of whipped butter for eating by itself). The honey ratio need to be a fair bit higher than the coconut one. Maybe a big tablespoonful to a cup of the butter mixture.

Follow the above method. You can certainly flavour it if you like, too, or add chopped dried fruit or nuts. I most recently used a vanilla bean which I split, scooping the seeds into the mixture, and leaving the pod in while I melted the fats too.

The cooling process for this one is even more temperamental than the coconut candy. Be very careful that the honey is not separating out, but don't stir too vigorously or you will end up with whipped butter.

Spoon into moulds, or use to coat other thing, like nuts, or balls made out of energy bars, or spread into a block.

Serve with dessert that would go with something chocolatey (like this), or on its own with after dinner coffee.

And this is where it ends (dinner... and the post)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fittings things in

A karate instructor I have trained with a few times once told us an analogy for fitting training into your life. Think of your life like a big jar, and all the things you want to do as stones of various sizes. The big stones are the important things that you have to have time for, family, work, karate training… other activities are various other sized stones, right down to fine sand, things like watching TV and browsing the internet. If you start by putting the big stones in the jar first, then the medium sized once, then the smaller ones then the sand, you can fit a lot more in than if you put the sand in first, then the little stones, then try to pack in the big ones at the end.

For me, this meant karate training is Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Friends knew that if they wanted me to come around for dinner, it had to be Monday or Saturday or late enough to be after training. Karate was a big stone and went in the jar first. Then uni, family, work etc etc.

Anyway, what got me thinking about this again was that I have so many bigger stones in my life (karate, jujitsu, work, new house and garden, cooking, knitting), and I haven't thought about how blogging fits in, so it has become something that just doesn't get into the jar very often. Which is a shame, because I enjoy writing, and developing and sharing recipes, and being part of the SCD, GF etc blog community. And I do find time to look at most of the blog posts I subscribe to, because the pop up in my email. So I conclude that the reason I haven't been posting is because I have not made sufficient effort to make it a priority.

As of now, every second part time day off, I'll write a blog post. For this one, a whirlwind update on the last 2 and a bit months.

April 12, my birthday - went to Sydney for a couple of days. Still being on fairly restricted SCD we didn't eat out, but had many tasty meals in our fantastic apartment in Surrey Hills, including local prawns cooked in garlic oil and tuna steaks. We also saw a ballet version of Madame Butterfly at the Opera House, which was simply magnificent.

16 April was the 6 month anniversary of restarting SCD properly (the benchmark for the day count in the title of the blog), uneventful, except to note that my colonoscopy was due two days later, but I wasn't well enough for my doctor to want to go ahead with it. Oh, and I was at an excellent jujitsu seminar!

On 1 May, I made a semifreddo (also the first time I had made SCD french cream, and I fell in love) loosely based on Naomi's hazelnut semifreddo made SCD legal, and it was just divine. The variations were simply to use SCD french cream in place of cream, home made vanilla vodka in place of liqueur, and half walnuts, half pistachios in place of the hazelnuts (just because that was what I had). I also only folded through half of the praline, and used the rest to sprinkle over the top when served. I still had leftovers, which we had on avocado pancakes with french cream and honey over the next few days too.

18 May marked the worst bout of food poisoning I've ever experienced, and I can only blame myself - hadn't eaten out in ages. 3 days laid out with D, muscle aches, fatigue, hot sweats, cold sweats, shaking exhaustion. 21 May looked promising, feeling weak, but hungry and able to take a 30 minute car ride to watch a karate seminar, but couldn't possibly have trained. However, by that evening, the UC was back - bleeding, nausea and D, and feeling very depressed.

It was back on to SCD intro. I've incorporated a number of the GAPS ideas (which I think come from SCD anyway, but maybe aren't made as clear as they could be in BTVC) of lots of stock and soup and casseroles into my diet, but I'm backing off on the fermented foods. I've also gone more hardcore in cutting out potential problem foods, what Jordan and Steve call the 4 horsemen (dairy, eggs, nuts and excessive fruit and honey) as well as nightshade vegetables based on paleo diet principles.

Since then, I've got back to a fairly good range of vegetables and meat, and more recently have added carrot juice (a shot glass a day for now), creamed coconut (for fibre in a fairly low impact form), ghee (the first dairy allowed on GAPS, as the vast majority of the milk proteins have been removed), french cream (as a high fat dairy product, it has a proportionately lower percentage of protein), and I had a tiny bit of scrambled egg and cooked apple with breakfast on Sunday. This is a sign of my typical impatience breaking through - adding two new foods at the same time - but I did it acknowledging that if I had a reaction, they both had to go. And with the pork and sage rissoles, fried onions and mushrooms, and mashed veggies, it went so well!

I've also had something of an epiphany about fat. I've been somewhat concerned about the weight loss from November/December 2009 that I haven't managed to regain (13 kg in 6 weeks from a fairly muscular 63kg to a gaunt and underweight 50kg). I've made it back to 58kg at a couple of points, only to drop back to 53-55kg at the first sign of sickness. I've been aiming to get back to 63kg, but not making much progress, and I'm attributing this failure to my lack of understanding of the important role of fat in our diets, particularly in the absence of complex carbs.

I've been using to track my calorie intake on and off for a while now, and have comfortably been eating about 1800 calories a day, which is enough to maintain my weight if I'm not very active. However, as I start feeling better (a) I start being much more active and (b) I stop tracking things as regularly. So I think that I probably maintain eating about 1800 calories a day, when I should be eating more like 2100 to maintain current weight and more than that to gain weight. I already eat protein for all 5 meals a day, and feel suitably full most of the time, so I couldn't figure out how to get more calories.

Then I thought back to a podcast by Jordan and Steve where they said to liberally pour olive oil or coconut oil over everything. I've found it quite difficult to do - the anti-fat message is solidly embedded from grade 5 health-ed classes onwards - the idea of pouring olive oil, even knowing it's a 'healthy fat', over rissoles, vegetables, steak or whatever I'm eating just didn't seem right. I started doing a drizzle of olive oil, and working my way up as per the GAPs intro diet, but when I one day measured how much I was having compared to the tablespoon I thought I was pouring on, I was amazed - it was less than half a tablespoonful. So now, I have a measure marked on my olive oil bottle in approx 20ml increments, and I melt coconut oil and pour it into ice cube moulds for convenient 14ml portions. I also have a pot of slightly sweetened (maybe half a teaspoon on honey to 200mls of oil) coconut oil on hand, flavoured with vanilla or lemon or orange oil, and I just eat this with a spoon when I want a treat (not that it would count as confectionary to most people, but I'm currently very attuned to even the slightest amount of sweetness as I've had 30 days free of even honey). 

I'm now sitting quite comfortably at 2200-2300 calories a day, which is enough for gradual weight gain with my standard level of physical activity. My worry now is giving up all the delicious fat when I get back to my target weight! :p 

In other happy news, the former owner and tenant in our new house finally moved out on 4 June. Since then, we have had the place repainted, carpets stripped out, boards rough sanded, kitchen stripped out and new kitchen is in the process of going in, and bathroom starts coming out this week. We're mostly getting other people to do the work, but we did get persuaded into doing the kitchen floor. This involved jack hammering out a 2m2 patch of concrete some 20cm deep, pilfering matching boards from the lounge room (which is getting a new wood floor laid over the top), and cutting and fitting them into the kitchen. It took our whole 4-day Queens birthday long weekend, which was a bit sad, but it has come up pretty well. I've also been doing a fair bit of work in the garden - setting up 6 raised garden beds (from here) and installing watering system for them, setting up the compost bin and starting hacking out the many overgrown and half dead plants around the place. 

I can see it all coming slowly together. The house was disgusting - lived in by 2 smokers and 3 dogs - the window frames run dark brown as I blast them with the steam cleaner! Now, it smells of fresh paint :) In my minds eye, the garden is coming together. In reality, I think it will take a fair bit longer, but crafting the whole garden into a bountiful edible retreat was one of my main motivations for moving from a unit to a house, so I'm happy for it to progress at a leisurely pace.

Well, that's a fairly lengthy tour of the last 2 months of my life. Other than that, there was work, some excellent karate seminars (thanks to Sensei Arie and Sensei Peter), making travel plans (Canada and the US in August/September), kitten cuddles, knitting, karate, jujitsu, long baths, massages... Mmm… brain vagues out in a cloud of remembered relaxedness...