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If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

Water is life

Beautiful Intention - magic benefits of water

This quote by Loren Eiseley is the perfect description for the first subject of my Beautiful Intention healthy living plan, which is water.

Over the course of the past year, water has been a powerful theme of life in South Africa. The ongoing, severe drought in the Western Cape has taken it’s toll on the people, animals and landscape crying out for water. At the same time, other areas of the country suffered violent floods that destroyed homes and took lives.

The fires that devastated Knysna were calmed eventually by water and it’s water that now restores life where there was ashes.

Water is the driving force of all nature and that includes humans. It even helps to make wine! So you see, it really is magic!

Drink plenty of water

It’s a message we hear very often and not without good reason. Taking the most important parts of our bodies into consideration, the brain and heart are made up of 75 percent water, lungs around 85 percent, muscles and kidneys consist of 80 percent water.

In order to have the body function optimally it stands to reason that the water balance must be well maintained.

What are the benefits of drinking more water?

Beautiful Intention - magic benefits of water

There are a multitude of benefits associated with drinking a good amount of water every day.

  1. Starting your day with a large glass of water gives your metabolism a wake up call!
  2. Drinking water is proven to raise your metabolic rate substantially.
  3. Aids digestion by clearing the colon and improves movement of food through the digestive system, less bloating.
  4. Keeps skin hydrated and free of toxins.
  5. Prevents headaches – dehydration is a major cause of headaches and even migraines.
  6. Boosts brain function and productivity for better focus and clarity.
  7. Increases muscle function and energy.
  8. Drink water to control appetite – drinking water an hour to 30 minutes before a meal will help you feel satiated without overeating. Drinking water often throughout the day will keep snack attacks at bay.
  9. Improved flow of nutrients and distribution of hormones throughout the body, ensuring that you function and therefore feel your best!

The how’s

How do you find ways to make it easier for yourself to remember to drink more water and actually stick to it?

I have a particular routine that I follow which makes it much easier for me. This includes the following:

As soon as I manage to pry my eyes open and peel myself out of bed (it’s not that I don’t want to rise and shine, I just really love my bed) the first thing on the agenda is a large glass of warm water.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I pour about a quarter glass of hot water, stir in a teaspoon of raw honey and two tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Top it up with tap water and drink. Then I follow that up with another glass of water.

There are a few reasons why I start with this and not because of it’s celeb status. Growing up, my grandmother did the same thing every day and the smell of ACV reminds me of her in the kitchen every morning. Things we grow up with tend to stick. Lemon and honey in water is another favourite of mine.

It’s not just for nostalgia though. Research is not always 100% conclusive as to all the benefits of apple cider vinegar however it has been used medicinally for centuries.

I will definitely not claim that it’s a magic potion but it has been proven to have various benefits in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle overall. Some benefits are:

  • Regulating blood sugar, assisting breakdown of starch
  • Enzymes found in the unfiltered ACV aid digestion
  • Acetic acid can increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and minerals from food
  • It’s antibiotic and antimicrobial and especially when combined with honey and water can soothe coughs and alleviate allergy symptoms
  • Antioxidants are good for healthy skin

Important to note never to drink apple cider vinegar undiluted. 2 Tablespoons is a maximum daily amount which you can easily also ingest with salads or fish, equally good and much better than 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise!

Further to this it’s also very important to do your own research before starting anything new and consult a doctor if you have any kind of pre-existing condition. A well balanced article I found about apple cider vinegar is here, should you want to start looking through more information.

Getting the 3 litres in

Beautiful Intention - magic benefits of water General consensus is that an adult should be drinking about two litres of water each day, however for weight loss you should have at least three.

I find it helps me to keep a 1,5 litre bottle with me, finishing the first one before lunchtime and then refill. I easily have my share of water this way, especially when I have a desk day.

We’re lucky to have the luxury of clean and safe tap water in Jozi and my personal preference is water from the tap or at room temperature. Of course you can chill it, add fresh lemon or berries (not artificially flavoured water) to make it more interesting for the tastebuds.

I also like to have either black rooibos tea or Senna tea, which counts towards water too as well as having their own tea-licious health benefits.

Yes, frequent bathroom trips will be part of the journey at first but the bladder will adjust soon enough. Think of it as a little exercise and a chance to stretch your legs.

One small step for the body… one giant leap to beautiful wellness! If you don’t manage it right away please don’t beat yourself up. Remember to be gentle… tomorrow is another chance to be better.

With that, I think my well of wonderful water wisdom has run dry!

Please let me know if you have any tips for drinking water, or how you prefer to drink your water. Feel free to ask any questions here or via email.

If you’re finding the series valuable, share the message on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Remember to invite your friends and family to follow along and feel their best too!

xxx

Carrot cake Muffins with Pecan Nuts and Cream Cheese Icing

A Special Occasion Calling for Cake

We always like to bake something for Super Dad’s birthday. The decision making is a difficult process… he has had Barney cupcakes, he has had chocolate cake sprinkled with really everything Wade could get his hands on. This year, Blake got to choose the Birthday Dinner. He also requested party packs with popcorn for all his friends at school. This didn’t materialise, needless to say.

Since he was choosing dinner, I chose the baking based on what was at hand. I had plenty of carrots and as I went through recipes hunting for a good one, I found that I already had just about everything I needed for these delicious carrot cake muffins (are they actually cupcakes though?). Carrot cake with buttery cream cheese icing is probably one of my favourite things. It has to be super moist, must have the little crunch of nuts and must have loads of icing! These definitely didn’t disappoint and I will be keeping this recipe close!

Just before I start, I have to say that one of the most annoying things when I’m working from a recipe is scrolling up and down to see the amount of ingredients. My recipes may not look quite like the standard recipe format, but it just works much easier for me.

Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe

To PrepCarrot Cake Muffins Pecan Nuts Cream Cheese Icing - Preparation

  • 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 3/4 cups grated carrot (I used about 6 medium sized carrots)
  • 1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped.
  • Halved pecan nuts for topping

For the Icing

  • 100 g cream cheese, softened
  • 75 g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar

To Bake

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 3/4 cup carrots and 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts together in a mixing bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients.

Pour 3/4 cup milk, 1 beaten egg, 1/2 cup sunflower oil into the hole and fold all together until just combined.

Spoon into the cups in the muffin pan. The cups will be just about full, this is not a problem as they don’t rise a whole lot.

Bake for about 22 minutes until beautifully golden and with a slightly crispy texture. Remove from oven and let them cool completely.

To make the icing, add 100 g cream cheese, 75 g butter and 2 tsp lemon rind. Stir in 1 1/4 cup icing sugar, then beat all together until fluffy and light.

Spread the cream cheese icing onto the carrot cake muffins when cooled, top with pecan nuts and enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins With Pecan Nuts And Cream Cheese Icing

Blake’s Sunday Bakes – Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Perfect Banana Muffins

Sundays at MammaChef’s houseBlake's Sunday Bakes - Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins in Jozi are very often for golf, for half the family and baking for the other half. Then of course, lunch and eating of the bakes comes after that! My baking definitely needs all the practice it can get but I must say that Blake absolutely loves baking. These banana muffins are just so easy and perfectly moist, even I can’t mess them up!

It’s such a fun thing for us to do together and we both enjoy every second of it. We always have to bake a few extra because the boys always want to take some to school for their teachers and their friends.

Baking has therefore become all about sharing the love!

Keeping it healthy(ish)

Blake's Sunday Bakes - Stoneground Wholemeal Flour

The original recipe comes from somewhere on Pinterest but I changed it quite a bit, as I usually do. I used Stoneground Wholemeal flour from Champagne Valley which is GMO free, full of it’s natural vitamins and minerals and unbleached.

They also have loads of delicious recipes on their website, by the way!

I received the flour as an extra surprise in my Munching Mongoose organic produce box for the week and I ended up using it for quite a few different things. Awesome products just give a different taste!

 

The Recipe

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • pinch salt
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Spray muffin tins well with baking spray. Peel bananas, break into smaller pieces and mash in a bowl together with the butter, using a fork. Blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth, not too lumpy.

Add the egg, sugar and vanilla and combine. Stir in salt and baking soda. Next, add the flour and chocolate chips, mixing until just combined (not too much mixing).

Divide into muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the muffin.

Moist, delicious and perfect for a snack or even for a sweet breakfast. You could also substitute the chocolate chips with berries or whatever else your heart desires!

Remember to #mammachefjozi when you try these! I love seeing your recipes and additions too!

Last week’s roundup & a special occasion

Good grief, it’s Wednesday and I haven’t posted a summary of last week yet! Where does the time go?! Or should I say… time flies when you’re having fun! This is definitely the truth!

Monday:  (Meat Free) Zucchini & Mushrooms

Tuesday: Flop Proof Cottage Pie

Wednesday: Chicken, Chickpea & Spinach Curry

Thursday: Pan Seared Fish with Tomato, Basil & White Wine Sauce

Friday: Easy Peasy Gluten Free Chorizo Pasta

Please have a look at my gallery of Sunday’s incredible buffet lunch at Aurelia’s, The D’Oreale Grande Hotel at Emperor’s Palace

The family came together to celebrate my Sister- and Brother-in-Law’s 30th wedding anniversary! A very special occasion celebrating two extremely special people, their exemplary marriage and the beautiful family and memories that they have created. So much love (and so much food)!

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Mandela Day 

It is Mandela Day in South Africa on 18 July 2017, which would have been Nelson Mandela’s 99th birthday. 

In honour of his legacy, we encourage each person to devote 67 minutes of their time to charitable causes, giving back, making a change in communities and supports local causes. 

Having had the privilege of meeting the great man twice in my life, I completely support this initiative and I also know that his legacy is not limited to action on one day of the year. We should be doing good, in any way we can, wherever we are, every single day. 

Whether it’s smiling at someone who looks like they might be having a tough day, letting someone go ahead of you in traffic, donating used things that you don’t need anymore… share love everywhere! The world needs more love!

Madiba Day
Happy birthday, Madiba!

On #ParentingWins and #ParentingFails

This post is inspired by MomofTwoLittleGirls who has asked several parents to open their hearts (and skeleton cupboards) by sharing their shiniest #ParentingWins and scariest #ParentingFails. She also bravely set the example with her own post here.

Several disastrous moments flashed through my mind as I considered which ones I would pick to expose to the world out there. I have had quite a few epic fails and many beautiful wins with my two boys. I’ll start with Wade, being the oldest and I’ll lead with a mommy fail that did not cause permanent damage to either of us…

#ParentingFail

Let me begin by saying that this boy has the most gorgeous temperament and gentle manner about him. Thinking back to his baby and toddler years, he was generally such an “easy” child but when he did throw a full blown tantrum he really did give it his all!

Wade was somewhere between terrible two and more-terrible three when, one fateful morning, he just simply refused let me dress him. All moms would probably recognise this story, weekday morning getting ready for work and school, possibly already running a little late when playfully asking leads to seriously instructing, leads to desperately pleading, leads to half an hour later, a frazzled (to say the least) mom and a completely out of control kid.

Long story short, I resolve that empty threats will get me nowhere and the time has come to show said toddler that I also mean business! I manage to carry wriggling and loudly protesting little monster, in his underpants, to the car and stuff him safely into his car seat. The next forty minutes in the car to school was spent trying to block out the deafening screams from the back seat, focus on the road and keep some semblance of composure.

calvin-hobbes-superman

There were maybe 5 minutes of silence before we finally made it to the school parking lot. I turn around to said little monster and ask in my calmest mom voice whether he is ready to get dressed as we have arrived at school. A quiet, calculated “Yes.” was the reply. As my luck would have it, this was only the eye of the storm. As I got near his foot with a pair of pants, the kicking and screaming started again and this was when the Mom-bot took over and I just gave up.

In my mind’s eye, I can remember the gate guard silently clearing the way as I walked into the nursery school, Wade wildly flailing around under my one arm and crying bloody murder. I will probably never forget the teacher’s face as she was sitting on a chair in the middle of the classroom. This wide-eyed mother walked straight up to her and the teacher didn’t say a word but just stuck her arms out. The screaming suddenly subsided to a small wail as I handed him and his bag to her, turned around and walked out. I paused outside the door to hear the total silence as he realised where he was and that all his friends were looking at him in his undies. On the upside, there was no permanent damage and this was never repeated again! It did take me quite some time to pull myself together and get myself to work that day.

Wade2012

goodbye-quotes-calvin-and-hobbes-quotes

 

 

 

 

#ParentingWin

Staying with Wade, my parenting win story is short and super sweet. It’s more attributable to him that me, but I must have done something right along the way!

About a year ago, I received a phone call from the mom of a girl in Wade’s Grade 1 class. She told me that she just wanted to let me know how he had just made their day. Her daughter had the most beautiful, long, thick hair and just the day before, had decided to trim her ends herself (just a little bit).

As she was telling me this, I had flashbacks to my own attempt at cutting my Barbie doll’s hair and the devastating consequences!

She had made a complete mess of her beautiful long hair and they ended up having to take her to have it all cut into a bob. Both mom and daughter were distraught and when they arrived at school the next morning, after hearing the story my little boy held her hand and said “I don’t really care if your hair is long or short, you’re my friend and I still like you.”

Smiles made and hearts melted. #WIN!

 

 

Pulled chicken wraps with all the trimmings

SuperDad does dinner

Last night turned into a switcheroo as Dad was working slightly late, leaving me on soccer duty and SuperDad on chef duty.

He seems to have the equivalent of “green fingers” in the kitchen. He doesn’t cook often but when he does, it’s always a big hit!

I did have something quick and easy planned as soccer nights leave very little time for cooking, so you could say he was set up for success. Enter Woolies Pulled Chicken with every colour of the rainbow that you could possibly fit into a wrap!

Seriously, when you arrive home in the dark and very close to frozen, to a poured glass of wine and a table set with a picture like this you can’t help but glow with happiness!


Each person got to put together their own wrap with choice of fillings, toppings and sauces, which is always fun for the kids. Besides the vegetables we also added homemade guacamole, humus, jalapeños…

The chicken is so tasty that it barely needs any of the extras, but it does look fantastic!

img_5019
Let me know what your favourite wrap fillings are!

Birthday Lunch

Two birthdays

Last week was my own birthday (of course I turned 21 again) and my little Blake turned 4 the day after. On Sunday we had a lovely lunch with family at home and everything conspired perfectly, including the weather, to make for an absolutely beautiful day!

My dearest dear husband, aka SuperDad, makes the world’s best espetada and this has become our “signature” dish when we have the family over.

In summary: good food, good wine, lots of laughter, sunshine and the most amazing people!

Daddy’s Weekend lunch for my parents

Chat

My parents came for lunch on Fathers Day weekend and as I don’t get to cook for them all that often (we usually spend more time at their house) I wanted to make something warm, saucy and delicious.

On the menu was chicken thighs cooked in the most divine creamy sundried tomato sauce, roasted baby potatoes with garlic and herbs, sauteed baby marrows and young carrots. The second best part, after the sauce, was the freshly baked Portuguese rolls from our local Portuguese bakery which were perfect to mop up all the creamy deliciousness and even became a second meal – rolls and sauce!

Fathers Day Lunch

Recipe

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Season 16 chicken thighs with ground coarse salt and black pepper.

Place 1kg baby potatoes into a large, shallow oven dish or roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add a few knobs of butter, ground salt and pepper and Italian mixed herbs. Place into the oven to start roasting while preparing the chicken. Total cooking time should be around an hour, give the dish a shake/mix every 15 minutes or so. The special trick to my potatoes is to forget about them so that they don’t quite burn but become slightly charred and crispy on the outside.

Roast Garlic Herb Baby Potato

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add chicken thighs, skin down first and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Do this in batches if necessary, then remove chicken and place into an oven dish.

If necessary, add another tablespoon of butter to the pan. Add 2 teaspoons crushed garlic, a sprinkling of smoked chilli flakes (to taste) and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add to this 2 cups chicken stock, 1 cup double thick cream, 2/3 cup jullienne sundried tomatoes (drained of olive oil), 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil, thyme, oregano. Simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Pour sauce over the chicken thighs and place into the oven for about 30 minutes or until completely cooked through.

Quarter 8 young carrots and 8 baby marrows lengthways. Put the carrots into a small plastic bag, tie a loose knot and microwave them on high for 5 minutes. Empty carrots (and any juices) into a frying pan with a small glug of olive oil and add the baby marrows. I sauteed/steamed them with a lid on for a while to nicely soften the marrows, then removed the lid and let them stir fry to get some lovely brown colouring.

Sautee Carrots Baby Marrow

Eat

I then opened a bottle of ice cold Fat Bastard Chardonnay which is one of my favourites that just complimented the creamy dish so well.

This is a meal that you should take your time cooking and also take your time eating and enjoying with your family! Let us know what you did for Fathers Day?

PS… love you, Dad!


 

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