Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ Eat Yourself Pregnant by Zita West

I’m not going to lie, when I was asked if I would review Eat Yourself Pregnant by Zita West I was a little hesitant, because to be honest I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to broadcast on my blog that we are trying to get pregnant, but then I thought why not because it’s not exactly a secret, even if I don’t talk about it that much. The reality is that my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for the last 3 years and are dealing with Secondary Infertility. I’m not going to get into all of the specifics with you but it’s a long, emotional and very difficult journey that we never saw coming and so I will take any advice I can (within reason!), so considering  that I love food, cooking and cookbooks and I am trying to get pregnant I decided why not?!

Zita West is a fertility expert and midwife based in the UK. During her career she has also worked as a nutritional advisor and then as an acupuncturist so she is more than qualified to be writing this book! The recipes however come courtesy of Christine Bailey an award-winning nutritionist, food and health consultant, chef and cookery teacher.

The 160 paged paperback is packed with information about getting your body ready for pregnancy as well as 65 healthy recipes to ensure you get all of the vital nutrients required for conception in your diet. There are questions to help you assess your overall health such as ‘How healthy is your digestion?’ ‘How toxic are you?’ and ‘How stable is your blood sugar?’ and a recommended fertility cleanse if you think you need it. As it turned out everything seemed good for us so I skipped the fertility cleanse and opted to pick and choose my own recipes from the book (the fertility detox is just a detailed meal plan with all recipes taken from the book).

The recipes are divided into chapters including ‘Boosters & Breakfasts’, ‘Light Meals’ and ‘Main Meals’ and the majority are accompanied by beautiful photographs. They literally all sounded so good so I really had a hard time narrowing down which ones to test and in the end have so far managed to test 6 recipes (with more made outside of the testing and more to come!). Since I did test so many I’m keeping the information about the recipes shorter so that I don’t have a novel on my hands!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook by Nancy Vienneau

The second Southern Cookbook to be added to my collection, Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook by Nancy Vienneau is a treasure of recipes and stories that celebrate local, seasonal food with family and friends.

What started off as a couple of friends wanting to get together once a month to share good food and company turned into a hugely successful monthly gathering and a cookbook to boot! The book features just over 150 recipes (taken from their monthly potlucks) and the chapters are divided into months which I know I have said before but I personally love! There are quite a lot of photographs throughout the book however a lot of them are for ingredients rather than the recipes which is worth noting. The theme is potluck but this is no ordinary potluck….Instead it is a group of friends getting together to celebrate the local bounty with new and innovative dishes. What each guest brings is a total surprise as there is no RSVP, no assigned dishes and absolutely no rules!

Quite honestly I didn’t even know where to start with this book because I bookmarked SO many recipes (the book was literally a sea of yellow post-it notes!!), however I finally managed to narrow things down and in the end I tested 4 recipes.

Tested Recipes:

Silky Butternut Squash Bisque
Fresh Dill-Feta Quick Bread
Cara Cara Cashew Chicken
Italian Meatballs in Hearty Italian Tomato Sauce

The first recipe to be put to the test was the Silky Butternut Squash Bisque since it looked delicious and I love Butternut Soup. The recipe was straightforward and I really liked the idea of roasting the vegetables first which added another level of flavour. I tasted the soup after each stage (and each new addition of the final ingredients) and I’ll be honest, for me it tasted best before the Greek Yogurt and Vanilla was added. I was definitely hesitant about the vanilla and in all honesty I wouldn’t do it again. It was a nice soup, definitely a bit different from any type of squash soup I have made before but I didn’t love it. It’s unlikely that I would make it again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Shopping with Ten Thousand Villages

Unless you are one of the super organised, chances are you, like me, are trying to get organised for Christmas! I still can’t believe that we’re already in December and the official countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun, but it has!

I’m always on the lookout for something different for presents and so I was delighted when I was asked if I would review some food products from Ten Thousand Villages. Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit organisation and is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America. The website is packed full of beautiful artisan gifts, home d├ęcor, jewellery, stationery and of course my favourite - food products. But it’s not only an online store, Ten Thousand Villages Canada has many shops across the country. What really makes it stand out however, is the fact that the mission behind Ten Thousand Villages is “to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair-trading relationships”.

The products I was sent included a bottle of Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Palestine, a bag of Za’tar spice mix and a beautiful square serving plate which could be used for multiple purposes. Both the Olive Oil and the Za’tar came from a company called Zatoun which is a volunteer-run organisation that provides marketing aid to olive farmers in Palestine.

Photographs courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice

Out of all of my hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks that I own, I am ashamed to say that I don’t have any Southern American cookbooks on my shelves! I know, I am embarrassed but I was delighted therefore when I was offered the chance to review The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice so I could finally try out some good old Southern comfort food!

The Loving Kitchen is described as “a collection of comforting recipes straight from the kitchen of popular food blogger LeAnn Rice”, and I have to say it didn’t take me long to agree that this book is full of comfort food recipes perfect for sharing with your loved ones. The chapters are divided into courses including Morning Fare, Bountiful Breads, Soup and Sandwiches, Entrees and Desserts (plus a few others) and with more than 130 recipes I had plenty to choose from. In the end I managed to try out 4 recipes.

Tested Recipes:

Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce
Lasagna Pinwheels
Cottage Herb Bread
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

The first recipe to be put to the test was the Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce. I was a little dubious as it did sound pretty heavy/ insanely rich(!) with the amount of butter, cream and parmesan but both hubby & Wee One love creamy sauces and it was Autumn so I thought it worth definitely worth a go, especially as it was completely different from anything I would generally make. The recipe was straightforward to follow and didn’t take long to make. The only downside was the ingredients were listed on one page with the instructions on the following so I had to keep switching back but that is me being super fussy! The final result was that the meal was enjoyable. Hubby liked it more than me but that’s just because I found it very rich. Since there was so much sauce left over I made some fresh pasta the following night then added some sauce along with some cooking water from the pasta and I have to admit I enjoyed it even more than the first night. There was SO much sauce though that I had to freeze what was left as it was just too much but it makes for an easy mid-week meal in the near future! If you are a fan of rich, creamy pasta you will enjoy this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pomegranate & Granola Yogurt Crunch

I seriously debated on what to call this…. Parfait, Pots and Crunch were all up there and to be honest I’m not sure if ‘Crunch’ is the right choice, however what I can assure you is that this is absolutely delicious and the perfect way to start your day!

I love eating this for breakfast and so I decided it was only fair to share it with you, especially since not only does it taste fantastic and is healthy but it looks so pretty that you could easily serve it to friends or family coming over for brunch. I use my own homemade Granola (click for the recipe) but you could easily use your favourite Granola instead – be it homemade or bought! It is so easy to make and the fruit can be changed throughout the year to whatever is in season, but I’ll be honest Pomegranate is my favourite!

Serves 1 generous portion – or enough for Wee One & I to share! (Easily doubled)

175g/ ¾ cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp honey (or to taste)
3 tbsp Granola
½ fresh pomegranate

Mix together the yogurt and honey and stir well before spooning half of it into the bottom of a glass bowl (or alternatively you could use glasses – either pretty tumblers or wine glasses). Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of Granola and ½ of the pomegranate then repeat with the layering, finishing with the pomegranate.

(Approximately 340 calories per portion however, that will depend on the Granola and Yogurt that you use.)

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