On family, carers and yummy treats…..

Dishy Doc and I are both spending quality family time at the moment.

This post is inFacebook-20151023-102819 tribute to all carers of sick, disabled and elderly people.  The work they do and the sacrifice they make is nothing short of amazing.

I have gone to stay with my mother, who cares for my grandmother, for two weeks. Just loving being in my hometown and feeling ‘home’ but, oh my, the work that needs doing!

Being 95, having had 2 falls, and suffering dementia and Parkinson’s, she needs around the clock care.    I am tired!  And I haven’t been doing  this for years, 24/7!!!!!!!!   Thankfully she likes my Omelettes, so I have breakfasts under control.  (Yaaaay for eggs!)     But cooking for someone who can’t swallow or chew easily takes a lot of time…. then there is everything else that needs doing during the day.

And, of course, I still want to make some yummy treats for when a friend comes over and for a birthday on the weekend.

What can I do that takes next to no time, tastes yummy and looks amazing?   I fall back on my basic mix for bliss balls and dehydrated raw biscuits, of course!


With one mix, I roll out half of it and cut out biscuits and dehydrate them… and the other half becomes bliss balls, some rolled in coconut and some dipped in melted chocolate!   Yummy, healthy, easy, quick…. and it satisfies SCD and Paleo diets, depending on  the use of chocolate (SCD allows no chocolate)

Raw Red Dragon Fruit Biscuits 

  • 100g almonds
  • 80g shredded coconut
  • 6/7 dried apricots
  • a drop of vanilla
  • 40g red dragon fruit  (or berries with a small chunk of beetroot if you don’t have dragon fruit)

For chocolate coating.

  • 50g Lindt 99% dark chocolate
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tbs honey

To make biscuit/bliss ball mix.  Place all ingredients into a food processor or Thermomix and blitz until combined and you can press together to shape.  If the mix is still too crumbly to shape, add a little more dragon fruit  or berries and blitz again.

Take half of the mix and place onto a pastry mat.   Spread out and place a piece of cling film plastic on top.  Roll to about a half cm thickness.  Cut with a cookie cutter (I love hearts!)   Place in a dehydrator for 24 hours at 40 celcius.

Facebook-20151023-102325With the other half of the mix, roll out into small ball shapes.   You can finish them by rolling in desiccated coconut, or by dipping in chocolate.

To make chocolate, place chocolate (broken into squares) into the Thermomix bowl.  Grate, 4 seconds, speed 8.   Scrape down the sides of the bowl so the chocolate is at the bottom.  Add oil and honey.  Heat… 3 minutes, 50 degrees, speed 1.

Or add chocolate squares, oil and honey to a bowl over a saucepan of hot water and melt, stirring constantly.  As soon as it is melted, take off the heat.

Dip bliss balls and dehydrated biscuits into chocolate as desired…

Place on a tray with waxed baking paper and refrigerate until chocolate has set. Store in the refrigerator  and   ENJOY!

(You can find more of my posts at https://nograinlife.wordpress.com)


Why We Want To Raise Lifelong Learners

A few weeks ago, whilst choosing books on Amazon to take along on my honeymoon, I bought Professor Mary Beard’s A History of Ancient Rome. I bought the book simply because it was on Amazon’s bestseller list, but to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I finished the whole book even before the plane landed. It was a surprise, because the British education system forces us to make a choice about our future at the tender age of 16, when we have to choose which three or four subjects to study for A levels. These three or four subjects are the precursors of our University course two years later and our career path three years on.

I did Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry. I abandoned Geography, History, Literature, Languages, Art and Humanities a long time ago, because they were not in my school curriculum. Being not inclined academically, I struggled with the rigours of getting good grades for three A level subjects, and alongside partying, chilling out on the beach and being a teenager generally, I did not have the time nor the inclination to broaden my knowledge base. Later, a demanding career and children meant that I had very little mental capacity to indulge in frivolous pastimes, which learning unrelated subjects was considered as in my overloaded life.

But my love of learning never left me. I owe it all to my mother, my first teacher. She never minded that I did not get good grades and showed me, over the years, that it made no difference to her whatsoever that her daughter was at the bottom of the exam results table. She was happy with the daughter she had and she delighted in raising me. The stuff she invested her time in teaching my brothers and I were never related to schoolwork. It was always about the magic of the world around us.

It is a wonderful gift to be raised as a lifelong learner, because my mother has given me eyes that are open to beauty and wonder, however harsh and difficult reality and life is. It doesn’t take me much – just a deep breath and a heartbeat – to remember my magical times with my mother. When I was choosing a honeymoon location, I chose somewhere not far from my home: Isle of Wight. I could have chosen half a dozen exotic locations, but I chose the Isle of Wight. I remembered our many unforgettable seaside days.

And at 47, I was delighted to rediscover them with the man I am planning to share the rest of my life with. The windswept bridle paths and coastal roads that I loved as a teenager, the seaweeds that I know as well as the back of my hands and the fossils that delight me so. On our honeymoon, I showed Thomas a part of me that he could not find anywhere else, with anyone else, except me. I showed him too, my fascination with cosmology (lying in bed, looking at Venus rising over the English Solent), the 11th dimension, mathematics and the warping of space-time that brought us, in the most unimaginable circumstances, into each other’s lives. The world around you is full of magic, if you open your eyes to it.

Thomas’s article on theoretical physics and business is here: http://agermanonthemove.blogspot.co.id/2015/10/the-heart-of-matter-metaphors-in_18.html?m=1

Food from my childhood: British curry

A recent survey show that curry is Britain’s favourite dish.  Yet for folks like my Welsh mother, curry is something not from India.  Give her a taste of ‘real’ curry, and she will freak out.

So here’s the British version of the Indian staple:

For the spices:

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peel and crushed

3cm root ginger, peel and crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

6 tbsp tikka curry powder (note, tikka, not madras which is more popular).

Dry roast all the spices until fragrant. Add 150g natural yoghurt, 6 tablespoon of tomato puree and juice of 1 lime. Blend the ingredients.

Marinade chicken chunks in the curry mix.  Put in a medium-heatt oven the next day until the chicken are thoroughly cooked.

Curry 1

Food from my childhood: Fish

Freshly caught fish (as opposed to commercially farmed fish) has a lot of nutritional benefits, namely omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals.

The Stanleys have been selling freshly caught fish straight off their boat in Bembridge harbour, but a few years ago, they acquired a shop in the village:


Here are two recipes from my childhood:


(1) Melt a knob of butter in a heavy pan. Add in flaky fish fillet (about 2 good-sized fillet).  Coat the fillets with the butter. Pour in enough full cream milk to cover.  Add bay leaf, peppercorns and a roughly chopped carrot.  Simmer until the carrot is soft and the fish disintegrates.

(2) Boil potatoes, parsnip and a carrot until soft. Roughly mash it with butter, cream and grated cheese. Season to taste.

(3) Saute three sliced leeks in butter until soft.

(4) Layer a casserole dish with fish, leek and mash. Bake until golden on top. Serve immediately.




(1) Saute 1 head of garlic and 1 chopped onion in olive oil in a soup pot.

(2) Add fish bones to the garlic and olive. Add a few chopped tomatoes, a bay leaf, a chilli, peppercorns, one carrot (cut into chunks), a celery stalk and water.

(3) Boil for several hours.

(4) Remove fish bones. Add cubed potatoes and carrots. Cook until soft. Then add fish filets just before serving.

(5) Season to taste.

(6) Serve piping hot with crusty bread.


Stuff that cabbage!

cabbage-rolls cabbageDishy Doc is still away, so it’s all about food!  I love comfort food.  Don’t we all!  Home cooked meals cooked with love, family around the table.    I love getting good veggies into my family and that isn’t always easy.  Fussy pants regularly leaves out mushrooms, rolls her eyes at egg plant or courgette and scowls at spinach or other greens with the death stare extraordinaire!     So I am always trying to find dishes that make both of us happy – me with the nutrition she is receiving and her with the taste…  not always easy, but sometimes we get a real winner!

I also adore savoy cabbage… I love the bright green colour and the wrinkles.  I don’t see them a lot here in Kuala Lumpur, so when I see one I just HAVE to buy it….  I’m crazy like that 🙂

When my niece who was visiting said “I gotta say this is really good” and my girls agreed, I knew I was onto one of those winners I look for. !   “Thanks mum” is one of those things which makes my heart burst and the time taken in the kitchen suddenly becomes all worth while.  So here is the long waited for recipe I have promised!



For the cabbage rolls:

  • 1 green cabbage, about 2 lb., bruised or discolored outer leaves discarded
  • 500 g pork mince
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 red or yellow onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil.

For the sweet and sour sauce

  • 1 red or yellow yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, chopped, leaves included.
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 to 2 tbs tomato paste (See my post on how to make your own)
  • 1 apple.
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar.
  1. Wash cabbage well.   Bring a large pot of water to a boil. . Remove the cabbage core by cutting with a knife and twisting it out and place the cabbage into the boiling water and cook until the leaves are done.   (5 to 10 minutes)  Set aside and cool. Once cool, remove about 12 of the nice large outside leaves (these will be stuffed).   Retain a few of the small inner leaves (about 50 to 100g worth)  to mix with the pork.  (and use any other left over leaves for a soup the next day!)
  2. Peel and quarter the onion. Chop in Thermomix … 3 seconds, speed 6. Add one tsp olive oil. Saute. 3 minutes, 100, speed 1. Chop carrot into large chunks and place in Thermomix. Add sage. Chop. 3 seconds, speed 6. Add, pork, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the retained small inner leaves.   Mix ingredients at Speed 3, 15 seconds, using the thermomix spatula through the lid to stir. (do not use any other than the Thermomix spatula) .   Repeat if needed. Divide the pork filling among the cabbage leaves. Fold the white stem end of each leaf over the filling, add a juniper berry then fold in each of the sides and roll up the rest of the leaf. Repeat for each leaf. ( If you do not have a thermomix,  chop onion and grate the carrot.  Saute until translucent and add sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and add pork and egg to the mix.  Mix well.)

To make the sauce, sauté the chopped onion and diced carrot over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery. Stir and heat through. Add caraway seeds, tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, apple and balsamic vinegar. Stir for a minute or two until well mixed. .  Place the cabbage rolls, seam down, in a single layer in the pan, and then spoon sauce and vegetables over the rolls. Cover and transfer to the oven and bake in a 180 celcius / 350 F oven until the cabbage rolls are tender and the filling is cooked through. This should take about an hour.



(Reblogged from my blog at https://nograinlife.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/stuff-that-cabbage/)


Yucky Yucky Yucky greens.

Our favourite doc is on her honey moon 🙂   I am doing a few guest posts and I hope you enjoy them.  My name is Vivienne and I am passionate about food and nutrition.   I have experienced the healing power of food myself and I have seen how important it is for my girls, having come from a deprivation of adequate nutrition early in life…  We have two teen girls.  Like so many, one of our girls doesn’t like greens.  Never has, probably never will.  Now if you say “Bacon”, that is another thing.  She will come running down the stairs… “That smells soooooo good, mum”.

I knew I was in trouble when, on the day we adopted her at 4 years of age, I bought her a bowl of fried rice for dinner.  Of course after all the reading I had done about keeping things as familiar as possible, and as ‘safe’ for her as possible, I went for that as I figured that was the sort of food she liked.   Well, it came and we are eating dinner.  I spy her picking out the little bits of green spring onions, looking at me to see if I was looking and when she thought I wasn’t….. she flicked them onto the floor 🙂  My mother was with me and I signalled to her and we silently giggled.   I knew then I was up for a battle to get greens into her.

Anyhow, the joke was on me, trying to get her comfort food, as the next day when we visited the orpanage director, she told us very proudly that Chun loved, loved Maccas.  Yup, the golden arches, Micky Dee’s…. and everything else we call it…    They had trained her to like “Western food”.    Idk ick ick….

I was still full of optimism and enthusiasm and thought that after a few months with me….  well you know what I was thinking.  Strong willed mum, takes no rubbish,  can wait out a child’s stubbornness, yada yada yada.  Well,  we have done the ‘eat one green pea’ thing, and the if you eat this bit of cabbage you can have some chocolate for dessert and ALSO the ‘you can’t leave the table until you finish your dinner’ thing…. nope.  Not working.   That was when she was FOUR.  She is now 15!    So, now we have an uneasy truce.  We work around.  I use plenty of the veg she will have… tomato, cucumber, cos (only cos) lettuce capsicum, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower and broccoli.  AND  I hide leafy greens in smoothies for breakfast 🙂

Now, my trick for smoothies is to use light coloured greens such as lettuce.  It makes the green less visible.  Then use either highly coloured fruits or strongly flavoured fruits.  Red dragon fruit, if you are in the tropics, is a really good colouring agent as it is so so intense…  I find it even better than beetroot.   For flavouring, a mango and/or passionfruit are amazing.

Our favourite breakfast now (and it even gets thumbs up from my lovely niece who is visiting) is… wait….

One red dragon fruit, 2 passionfruit, a small piece of ginger, one banana, 150 ml of coconut milk (this makes it nice and creamy, and I think this is what disguises some of the ‘green’ taste)  and two baby cos lettuce…..    blend in your favourite blender (I use a Thermomix) for abut 10 seconds.  Then add a cup of ice cubes and blend for a further 20 to 30 seconds.   The smoothest, creamiest smoothie… dairy free, refined sugar free….AND with greens. Serve in your favourite glass with a swirl of the coconut milk on top….  a mum’s dream    :-

My other go to smoothie at the moment is one mango, one banana, 2 small cos lettuce, one white dragon fruit and 150 ml of coconut milk….    again, so creamy.  it is highly green in colour, but the mango flavour comes through and the creaminess of the coconut milk lightens the “greenness”.

(You can also join me at my blog at https://nograinlife.wordpress.com !!!  I’d love to see you. )

Enjoy !

greensmoothie IMG_3056