Thursday, June 28, 2007

Spicy Lentils....Something Everyone Seems to Enjoy!

Hey there I hope you are all well and enjoying this chilly weather. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere please enjoy the nice weather you must be experiencing right now.

The other night I was at a 'bring a plate' dinner and I brought a simple dish of Spicy Lentils which everyone seemed to enjoy. Actually they enjoyed it so much they kept asking for the recipe so I thought I'd share it through the blog. It's a great dish, easy to make, extremely healthy and one everyone seems to enjoy ~ even the kids.

As a side note I have found a great curry powder from The Healthy Curry Company. It is all natural with no additives and the flavours are great. Check them out at I really love the Vital Vegetarian Curry, the recipe is on the back and is really simple. It has eggplant and chickpeas, my kids eat it and don't even they are eating all these great veggies. So give this recipe a go and try the others I've suggested ~ Curries are a great way to keep warm in the winter months.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Madras curry paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
400g can diced tomatoes
2 cups(375mls) chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves


Heat oil in a large saucepan; cook onion and garlic, stirring until onion is soft. Add paste and seeds ; cook, stirring until fragrant.
Stir in lentils, undrained chopped tomatoes, stock and coriander; simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes or until
lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Enjoy this and other familyroom tried and true recipes. Be well and stay healthy.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Family, Friends, Good Times.... Read On!


Hi friends,

I’m back on the blog again after returning from an incredible family time away in Europe. We went to the UK for my brother in laws wedding (will blog soon about what a special family time that was), and then with about 20 of the relatives spent the next 3 weeks in Italy and France. SO much I could write about traveling with kids, not freaking out at your husband, functioning on minimal sleep and with jetlag, etc., etc., but I wanted to chat with you about the way Italian and French women look fabulous all the while daily consuming pastries, full fat dairy, wine and copious amounts of oil. For those of you who haven’t read “French women don’t get fat” you must get a copy it’s excellent.

So I was wandering around these fairytale places thinking well French women may not get fat but I think I will on these almond chocolate croissants and I found myself staring at their great sense of style and thinking about the balance that they seem to achieve so beautifully. If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that I’m the type of Nutritionist who isn’t into dieting except for medical reasons, and my mantra with food is all about EVERYDAY, SOMETIMES and PARTY foods. These European women GET that concept.

You won’t find light dairy products, pastries are literally breakfast foods with a few shots of coffee - pizza and salads with oil are standard and the gelato in Italy is unrivaled anywhere in the world and consumed regularly. We won’t even mention the wine….and let’s just say low carb diets will never take off in Europe!

The thing is they live with balance. They know it will all still be there tomorrow and don’t binge. They drink in moderation and eat their bread and oil (very good for you) as well as their fruit and veggies, they cook with flavour and use full fat everything because they don’t eat enough of it to be a problem. They eat the best quality chocolate and only need a square or 2 at a time because it’s so good and so rich. My favourite thing is….they understand that food is not to be feared and is ALL ABOUT family and friends and good times and enjoyment.

We really need to wean ourselves off all these pretend packaged foods loaded with salt and sugar and preservatives and low this and low that, and get back to basics. Our bodies and our tastebuds will thank us!

Well I’m off to make a shot of espresso and let the kids make breakfast…..

Lv Jane
PS Hey we just found out we’re moving back to Sydney in July. Looking forward to being able to finally go to Family Room Live! See you at the next one!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Making Changes that Work

As you know thefamilyroom is about strengthening families, relationships and our communities. With this in mind I would like to share my latest jewel with you.

Most of you 'regular' readers know that I am a mother of three and I run a busy cake design business which has just expanded into new premises. In my life family always comes first and I truly believe I can have my cake and eat it too (sorry couldn’t resist!).

Life is so busy that I (like you) find myself multi-tasking and trying to make the best use of every minute in a day. With this in mind allow me to share with you what my evenings usually look like.....After my children go to bed I tackle the washing, ironing, cleaning, read school notes and so on. To be honest the thought of getting all of these chores done often takes priority in my mind which means after dinner I become focused on putting the children to bed as quickly as possible. I know this isn’t great for anyone so I decided to change. I sat myself down and looked at what I wanted to achieve and how I could do it better keeping harmony in the home whilst making sure my 'jobs' didn't slip. You see I really believe children should go to bed feeling relaxed and content, laughter should fill the house rather than the sound of urgent reminders to brush your teeth and get into bed which was the current state of our home (now I know the 'urgent' does happen however we should try and make it the occasional rather than the norm :).

Here's how I made things different.....We now all pile into our bed. Each child brings a book. The child whose book is being read gets to cuddle up next to me, we all take turns and this is proving to be exceptional for the children and for my soul. Our evenings have become so satisfying for everyone, we read, we laugh, snuggle and I show my children that everything else in the world can wait. I have found that my children go to bed and pop off to sleep quickly following a prayer and a kiss good night. Yet another memory is being forged for them to look back on and smile.

Remember, our circumstances are all different. We can’t look at the way another family operates and expect to duplicate it. Some of us are single parents, some work full-time others have children with special needs and so on. Some of you have children older than mine, with them I encourage you to make adjustments that work for them and that may be staying up later, working on a project together or just sitting up and letting them know your available, you never know what will work with the teenage heart.

Friends take time to be clear on what you desire for your family and look at how you can achieve it based on the way your family looks. Talking with friends, looking at thefamilyroom posts and listening to our podcasts as well as reading parenting books are resources I use when I am confronted with the need to change.

Enjoy the moments.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Kick Start a Great Habit

It’s zero degrees outside. The kids have gone to school. The house is quiet and I’m now faced with one of the hardest decisions of my life…

… Should I take off my fleecy pink checkered pajamas and put on my track pants and sweatshirt in preparation for exercise class or should I simply sit on the couch, drink tea and watch Sunrise with Mel and Kochy. See how difficult this decision is.

But then, as if my body has slipped into autopilot, the TV goes off, my exercise gear goes on and I grab my ‘I’m going to Siberia’ coat. Next thing I know I’m in my car driving in a trance to exercise class. Why? Because I have been doing this now for several weeks and I’ve formed a habit. They say if you do something consistently for more than 21 days it becomes habitual. If I could only get my husband to pick up his jocks and socks for 21 days. The possibilities are endless.

There’s also something very familiar about exercise class. I open the door and walk in; Smiling at me are my pals, Susan and Belinda. We all arrange our exercise mats, have a sip of Evian (actually, its tap water – Evian just sounds more Gwyneth Paltrow) and we get into position.

Skinny Lucy, the instructor who looks Chinese, but has a broader aussie accent than me, welcomes me warmly, before she switches the rap/funk/rock music on and puts me, Susan, Belinda and four Chinese ladies through the most grueling ‘low impact’ exercise hour of our lives. By the end we are screaming for mercy. She works our uppers, our downers, our inners and our outers and with the little energy we have left at the end of the hour, we clap, hand over our eleven bucks and head off for a latte and some Turkish bread. We walk out of that class feeling fantastic.

My decision to exercise came after my one too many attempts to pull my low rise jeans over my ever bulging tummy – the muffin syndrome. Encouraged by Susan and Belinda, I began fart lekking (which you have heard all about), which has now lead to fart lekking and exercise class. Even my eating habits have changed in line with my new found regime. Overall I have more energy, less flat days and even look forward to shopping for outfits.

For those of you thinking about exercise classes or simply getting your body moving, put on your Nike trainers and ‘just do it’. Set your alarm clock half an hour earlier. Get up and get walking. Or, grab some friends and go to exercise class or join a gym. Seriously, if you’re not happy with what you’re looking at in the mirror, exercise for 21 days and you’ll have yourself a great habit! Enjoy.

Nicki Partridge.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yummy Vegetable Soup

Firstly let me aplogise for the delay in posting something. We've had a very crazy week....Anyway, as the old saying goes "better late than never".

I've decided to share this beautiful Vegetable Soup recipe with you. The other night my good friend Nicki (whom you know from the blog and our podcasts) called and asked if her and her girls could come over for dinner ~ they were coming to my place later and were out at swimming lessons so decided (as they sometimes do) to come straight to ours for dinner rather than going all the way home first (oh the details....I know you love them :).

We were having a very simple vegetable soup with some great crusty rolls ~ a simple yet very nutritious meal. Nicki and her girls arrived and Nicki loved the soup and asked for the recipe. I explained to her how incredibly simple it was and how I had only started cooking (chopping and preparing) at 5:10pm and we were all sitting and eating just before 6pm. So easy, so fresh, and so yummy.

After talking with Nicki I thought I should post my little recipe ~ it's all made up from things I seem to remember reading so have a go and enjoy. If you are living in Sydney this is a perfect recipe for our cold, wet weather right now, if you are experiencing summer weather right now this soup is perfect cold as well (I know some of you think that's really gross but it's actually nice and very refreshing on a hot day).

Okay here goes!

Yummy Vegetable Soup

2 cups Chicken, Vegetable or Beef Stock (I use Vegetable)
1 cup Water
1 Large Can chopped tomatoes (if you don't want a tomato based soup simply leave this out and it will be a clear soup)
Add Chopped Vegetables (I used chopped new potatoes ~ chopped into small pieces, 1 red capsicum chopped, 1 onion finely chopped, 2 carrots chopped smallish, 2 good handfuls of green beans, 2 stocks of celery, 1 zucchini, 1 can kernel corn.
1-2 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
To add to this and make it a heavier meal you could include: rice, pasta, beans (of any sort) or barley.

That's it friends a super easy, super yummy and super quick vegetable soup that everyone will eat.


Much love,
Susan xoxo

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Turning My House Into a Home ... Part 1

A few year’s ago my mother and I were driving on an isolated stretch of road in the south of Western Australia. It had been a long chilly day – frost covered the rolling green hills like a soft white blanket. Approaching the nearest town we passed an enticing sign which read: “warm fire, kettle’s on”. Without giving it a second thought, we stopped the car, grabbed our coats and went inside in search of an ‘experience’ rather than just a coffee. The café wasn’t ritzy, but it did have one thing going for it – it felt warm and very homely. It reminded me of the house I grew up in.

Arriving home in my teens and twenties, I can always remember being greeted by the familiar smell of mum’s English stew cooking on the stove, warming up my hands in front of the gas fire, lying on our modest, yet comfortable furniture and hearing the kettle whistling – on continuous boil.

Now that I have my own home, I too want to create an environment that is warm and inviting. Our lights are always dimmed, candles are flickering, music is often playing and the heater is on during those cold winter months.

I do what I can ascetically to create a welcoming environment and then my husband and I build on this by filling our home with lively conversation (usually at the dinner table), lots of cuddles, unconditional love, respect, laughter, friends, and a lifetime of happy memories, captured so beautifully in the photo’s gracing our walls.

At thefamilyroom we often talk about our homes being a haven and a safe place and that they are homes rather than houses. This is something I want, I want my house to be a safe haven, an oasis, a place where we can relax and just be ourselves. Truly not just a house – but a home.

Nicole Partridge

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