The no ‘poo revolution – how to have happy hair!

happy hair

I’d first heard about NOT using shampoo many many years ago, after I’d heard Jerry Hall (model, Mick Jagger’s ex wife) didn’t shampoo her hair. She was a MODEL, she had trademark long luscious locks, she was a rockstar’s wife! This was no smelly hippy. But back then I didn’t have the guts to even try it. Fast forward 15+ years and I finally *met someone who had the guts! Her name is Lucy and she’s just written a book about it!

Having frizzy and wavy hair I avoid washing my hair too often because it takes so darn long to dry and style, but the longest I can go without washing it is about four days – and that’s at a stretch. By then the front of my hair (especially if I have a fringe) is covered in grease and my roots are the same – however the ends remain dry (this is how I get to four days without washing – I wear a hat to cover the greasy roots while the dry ends give the appearance of clean hair!).

So what is this book all about?

Basically, giving up shampoo. I know, I know, it’s a shocking thought – like giving up soap? But Lucy explains WHY and HOW in the most hilarious and clever way. There’s science, there’s research, there’s experience, there’s testimonials. By the end of reading this perfectly sized e-book you’ll be convinced to give it a go. Best of all, the e-book only costs £2.20! I mean it probably costs you more to shampoo your hair!

Lucy Lulastic and the Hippyshake

You can read all about why Lucy gave up shampoo on her blog Lulastic and the Hippyshake

But why?

Toxins, health related issues, time, cost – there are actually many good reasons to give up shampoo (which Lucy explains in her book), for me it’s the idea that I won’t be so desperately in need of washing my hair every few days. With two young kids washing my hair (let alone drying it) is quite indulgent. Also, I’m frightened by the amount of toxins I put on my body and the fact that my scalp seems horribly dry.

Mostly though, it just makes sense. My eldest son is just over two and I think I’ve washed his hair twice in his whole life – yet he has the most gorgeous, shiny, healthy looking hair.

Now Lucy will take great pleasure in finding out that when her new book made it to the Australian press just recently, my partner sent me a link to the online article saying “maybe you should try this”. Ha! I had already planned to darling, but thanks for the beauty tip!

So, I’m on the mission to go ‘poo free. I’d already planned to chop off my long locks for more easy styling, so a new washing routine seems like good timing! My dear partner, the no fuss bloke he is, is pretty stoked actually. He’s the one who has to babysit the kids while I ‘deal’ with my difficult hair!

You can buy “Happy Hair: The Definitive Guide To Giving Up Shampoohere.

*Whilst I have never met Lucy in person, we are what I will call “internet pals” – we found each other by mutual admiration!

Choose to be happy

kikki k happiness book

My friend The Wellness Mummy recently wrote a blog post about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. I couldn’t have agreed with her more, it’s such an awesome thing to do as part of your bedtime routine – to sit and think about all the good things that happened that day so you can write down what you’re grateful for. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for over a year now. I actually found a five year journal where each date (i.e. 18th of March) has five entries for five years of thoughts. I’ve now crossed over into my second year and reading what I was grateful for a year ago really puts it into perspective! A year ago I was thankful for my toddler sleeping better and here I am with a newborn!

The point of this post however is to let fellow readers know of an awesome little thing I spotted at Kikki.K today – the Happiness Journal, which I believe ties in with Gretchen Ruben’s “The Happiness Project“. Along with other gratitude style journals, the Happiness Journal focuses more on, well, keeping you happy! Kikki.K are actually running in-store workshops on how to use the Happiness Journal. How great is that? It would be such a fun project to do with a friend or take a ‘not so happy’ friend along to. I had a browse through the book and it uses each month to focus on things you’re going to do or change to make yourself happy.

If you don’t think you need to work on your happiness as such, keeping a daily gratitude journal is another awesome way to leave the day on a good note. This is the five year journal I used, but there are a few more out there!

five year journal

I love all the projects becoming dedicated to happiness. Personally, I am a big believer that we can choose to be happy. It’s the ‘glass half full’ idea. It’s not just me that thinks it – apparently it’s a scientific fact – read this article about it!

So what are you grateful or happy about today?

 

Healthy Salted Caramel and Macadamia Cheesecake

eco empire healthy salted caramel cheesecake5

Healthy cheesecake? Is that possible you ask? Well, it depends what you consider nutritious. When you eat a healthy diet cream cheese isn’t exactly on the naughty list. This is a fairly nutritious cheesecake using lots of wholefoods and no refined sugars – so as far as desserts go, yeah it’s pretty ‘healthy’! Oh and it’s also really quick and easy to make – winning!

This recipe started as a “Hazelnut & Vanilla Cheesecake” with a chocolate flavoured base. It was a ‘throw-random-ingredients-in-the-Thermomix-and-see-what-happens’ experiment that turned out better than expected and I posted a pic on Instagram. A few people wanted the recipe which is when I started experimenting further. Having made it a few times to replicate the exact recipe measurements I thought I’d try a new flavour which turned out to be far more delicious (and perhaps more ‘naughty’)! To make an even healthier cheesecake just omit the salted caramel topping and add the raw cacao to the base.

eco empire healthy salted caramel cheesecake1

eco empire healthy salted caramel cheesecake2

eco empire healthy salted caramel cheesecake3

eco empire healthy salted caramel cheesecake4

Healthy Salted Caramel & Macadamia Cheesecake

Ingredients

BASE

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 8 medjool dates
  • (optional: 2 tablespoons raw cacao to make it a ‘chocolate’ base)

FILLING

  • 250g cream cheese
  • ½ cup greek yoghurt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 2 tablespoons rice syrup
  • ½ cup macadamia nuts (or hazelnuts)
  • optional: honey, to taste (for those not used to sugar free eating)

SALTED CARAMEL TOPPING

Adapted from a Quirky Cooking recipe.

  • 50g coconut sugar*
  • 50g maple syrup*
  • 100g coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder -or- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract
  • a pinch of Himalayan salt
**alternatively use 100g of one of the ‘sweet’ ingredients.

Method

Blend all the base ingredients in the Thermomix (speed 6 for 5 seconds) or a food processor until it resembles crumbs*. Place these in a pie or cheesecake dish and press down firmly. Place in the fridge to set.

There is no need to wipe out the bowl, just place the filling ingredients in the Thermomix and blend (speed 6 for 10 seconds) or until it reaches your desired consistency. The macadamia nuts should be crushed into tiny pieces.

Place the filling onto the base and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Place all the caramel ingredients in the Thermomix (speed 2 for 3 minutes) on 100 degrees. Alternatively stir the ingredients in a saucepan on low to medium heat for the same time.

You can choose to keep the caramel warm or place it in the fridge to cool. Slice it up and then pour the salted caramel on top of each slice. Keep the cheesecake refrigerated.

*If you don’t have a Thermomix you might like to chop the nuts before adding the other ingredients.

I love this recipe so much that I’ve made it about five times in the last few weeks. It hasn’t failed to impress guests either. I hope you enjoy it!

eco empire healthy salted caramel cheesecake6

Meal planning – the easy way

eco empire_meal planning_02

Life just got busy. Even more busy than I thought busy could be. I knew it was going to happen but nothing can prepare you for the adventure of having a toddler and a newborn! Our newest addition is just over three weeks old now and we’re settling in better than I expected (then again I had very low expectations of myself!). Which brings me to the topic of discussion.

I spoke recently about my new year resolutions, one of them being to eat better. It was this resolution as well as my aspiration to have less waste and less stress (because I have less time) that I ended up learning the art of meal planning. Meal planning looks good on Pinterest but can seem really difficult to actually start. I have sat down in the past and tried to come up with a week’s worth of meals and got nowhere.

eco empire_meal planning_03

This time is different – the secret is to organise a weekly organic fruit & vegetable box to be delivered to my doorstep. This means we have the benefits of eating organic as well as eating in season (which provides you with the best way to get the most nutrient value from food). Our box comes from The Organic Collective (Perth peeps I can’t recommend this company enough! They’re great!). I then force myself to meal plan around this which helps narrow down the many options. When I unpack the box I think about all the meals I can make and then write them up on my menu chalkboard. This really helps me to focus on cooking what we have at hand, and not cook on a whim.

eco empire_meal planning_01

At the end of the week if I have leftover vegetables I will try to make either a vegetable lasagna or blitz all the veges into a ‘super sauce’ for pasta. If there is any leftover fruit I freeze them for next week’s fruit smoothies (which we tend to eat every other day for breakfast).

eco empire_meal planning_04

 

Above: Frozen mango, banana and orange juice from leftover fruit to make tropical smoothies (yes, believe it or not we had leftover mango! Crazy I know!)

I have tried meal planning in the past but coming up with a week’s worth of dinners and then shopping for all the ingredients usually proved a daunting task – however having the fruit & vegetable box means my choices are narrowed down. Some weeks things might get repetitive, like for the last two weeks I’ve received a lot of eggplants so last week I used them to make a vegetable pasta bake and this week I’m making eggplant parmigiana – but it’s making me a bit more adventurous in the kitchen. Because we’re in the middle of summer I nearly always get the kind of vegetables to make a salad which means dinners can be as simple as meat and salad. In winter I’ll get lots of root vegetables, perfect for making soups and casseroles. One thing is for sure, we are definitely eating more fruit and vegetables.

So there’s your secret meal planning weapon. Eat in season! Eat organic! When you don’t know what to make – Google is your friend! If you have any other meal planning secrets I would love to hear them.

Zombies and Geeking Out – My 2014 New Year Resolutions

zombie-christmas-card-stop-santa

Image source

My past new year resolutions might have been a bit ambitious so last year I made it simple for myself, to be happy. I did really well with that one. I followed my heart and happiness came along for the ride. This year I thought I’d step it up just a teeny weeny notch because I really like a challenge (if having a newborn and a toddler isn’t going to be challenging enough).

So here it is, drumroll please:

My 2014 resolution is going to be:

  • Eat a higher proportion of healthy food (i.e. cut the crap!).
  • Keep up to date with my photo albums.

But where do zombies and geeking out fit into all of this?

ZOMBIES

Last week I had a horrible night of recurring zombie dreams. I woke up several times to pee (pregnancy is delightful) and each time I’d get back to sleep I’d have another zombie dream. But one in particular really woke me up – literally and figuratively! The dream was about how I had a child who had cancer but we were stuck in an apocalyptic zombie nightmare. With no way of treating the cancer the only way I could think of making my child better was to eat to better health. I woke up from this dream and my mind went crazy. I thought about how bad it would be if I got cancer and couldn’t look after my children. “I have to eat healthy” I proclaimed to myself in the dark. I owed it to my children. Those darn zombies sure do have a way of getting through to me. I think it’s also a few inspiring people that eat 100% healthy (The Wellness Warrior and A Foodly Affair to name a few) who both had to suffer from sickness before they dramatically changed their diets. I don’t want to get sick before I make the right changes, I want to prevent sickness. Really I should ‘blame’ my raw (un)cooking class (by Hannah from A Foodly Affair) – I just haven’t stopped thinking about it since then!

When I tell people I’ve got to eat better they look at me like I’m crazy “But you eat so healthy!” – well I do, and I don’t. My diet seems to be a fine balance between super healthy (raw, organic goodness) versus plain old bad (chocolate, processed snacks like chips etc). The good doesn’t make up for the bad unfortunately, and I think it’s time to cut the crap, especially before my son develops any of my bad habits. And yes, I am aware of how mad it seems to proclaim absolute healthy eating just a week before Christmas! But as it turns out, there are plenty of healthy and delicious ways to eat Christmas themed food. I might share some of it with you in the new year!

GEEKING OUT

I’ve been trying to put together my 2012 photo album for most of this year and I’m only half way through. I am a massive memory keeper and avid photographer, but not so great at getting it out of the digital world and into a memory piece to hold and cherish. So this year I’m embarking on the whole Project Life thing. It’s just one of the many ways you can collate your photographs and memories. I’m choosing this one because it seems really simple and easy and best of all CRAFTY! I catch up once a month with my girlfriends for what we call “Crafternoon Delights” and rather than push myself to make a new craft every month I’m just going to put together the previous month’s photos and memories. I bought a starter kit the other day so I can start the new year right. I would really like to incorporate some recycled goodness into my albums instead of buying all new scrapbooking accessories – can’t wait to see how that turns out! This is where I got geeky people!

So there you have it. Another year to be a better me. What are your new year resolutions?

The Christmas Rules – our family guide to buying kids presents

eco empire christmas rules

I recently read an article from Lulastic and the Hippyshake about the tyranny of toys. This really resonated with me as a Mum to an 18 month old, trying desperately to make our toy collection modest and inspire more creative and imaginative play. It especially resonated with me because of this time of year – Christmas – when a little part of you makes you think you need to spoil your child to make them happy. You really don’t. I thought I’d tell you our new ‘Christmas Rules’ and what my son is getting for Christmas so you can see how we’ve dealt with the tyranny of toys and the consumerism of Christmas.

We decided when choosing presents for our kids we will always use this as a guide:

  1. A toy that inspires imagination
  2. A toy that is secondhand
  3. Something he needs
  4. Something to read

So this year, these presents ended up being:

BILIBO ‎ – a toy that inspires imagination

Bilibo

Looks pretty boring? Well watch this video if you are wondering what on earth this could inspire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-H7XmbcDK0

I love the fact that there is no specific use for this toy, that the kid will figure out different ways of using it. I can’t wait to see what my son does first!

BABY DOLL – a toy that inspires imagination

baby doll

With a baby brother due very soon we thought we’d give him his own baby doll to play and practice with. He’s naturally fond of baby dolls, constantly playing with them and putting them in prams at Playgroup. It will be a great tool to use when we have a newborn and I need to keep my son busy. As I’m sure it won’t get as worn out as a girl’s doll might I’m sure we’ll be able to pass this doll on to a friend or to the thrift store when he’s over the whole baby thing.

STACK’N’ROLL  – a toy that is secondhand

Fisher-Price Stack and Roll (segments)

There is no way I would buy a Fisher Price plastic toy brand new. There were plenty to choose from on ebay secondhand. The reason I bought this toy is that my son has played with it before and finds a new use for it every time. It encourages counting, stacking, choosing colours, putting it together to make balls – it’s a pretty verstatile toy. Plus my cousin-in-law still has a set for her four and six year old girls because they STILL use it. Good investment I say!

BIKE HELMET  – something he needs

kiddimoto bike helmet

My sister is buying him a trike for Christmas. It’s the kind of trike that is going to last a long time and be used by subsequent siblings (another boy, due in February!). We thought we’d buy him the responsible but boring bike helmet to go along with it.

BOOKS – something to read

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_(book)_cover

Books are a great investment and my son really loves to read. I decided to get him an old classic that I grew up with! We also got him a book on being an older brother, I especially like that this book has pictures of the Mum breastfeeding a few times (in fact the book makes a comment that it seems like the baby is always hungry! Hilarious!).

***

So there you have it. I don’t think we’ve spoiled him at all and I like that we have a good guide to stick to each year. Some of the gifts I wanted to get him a while ago but figured I may as well save them up for Christmas (though I still wonder if unloading a pile of stuff on one day is a good thing).

When it comes to grandparents and family however, it is tricky. I try to guide them as much as possible. You can ask them to make something (help building a cubby maybe?) or all contribute to one big present.

Next year we’ll be adding a few more traditions to our Christmas, like donating old toys to charity and buying gifts for the needy. I want my kids to get the thrill of giving just as much as receiving.

Do you have any rules or guides you follow? I’d love to hear them!

Raw (un)cooking class

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_02 (Large)

Straight from the garden

I love raw food. It can be some of the tastiest food I get to eat. One of my absolute favourite cafes is a raw vegetarian cafe. For some time now I’ve been dreaming of going to an A Foodly Affair raw (un)cooking class. Finally I had enough free time and a good excuse (early Christmas present) to go! A Foodly Affair is actually the lovely Hannah and it was so enjoyable to listen to someone who is really passionate about delicious raw food and general health and wellbeing, and if you weren’t already a raw food convert then seeing Hannah’s glowing skin would certainly change your mind!

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_01 (Large)

Hannah from A Foodly Affair

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_06 (Large)

The class getting involved

This particular (un)cooking class was Christmas focused. I was intrigued to see how Hannah would pull off a raw Christmas meal as there are some very particular traditional flavours associated with Christmas – but Hannah managed to put together an amazing spread of food that even the fussy eaters would be happy eating on Christmas day. I was particularly surprised by the Faux Turkey with Cranberry Sauce – a ‘stuffing’ like mixture was placed in a lettuce leaf with cranberry sauce poured on top and then it was all rolled up in the leaf – it really did have all the flavours of Christmas and I kept going back for more! It was so addictive!

Making almond milk for a 'nutty nog'

Making almond milk for a ‘nutty nog’

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_10 (Large)

Shaving some cacao butter

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_11 (Large)

Preparing some raw coffee and cardamom bites

The class certainly inspired me to get more involved in my raw (un)cooking as well as eating more organic and healthy foods. I also just bought her e-book “Love Thy Food” which I’m pretty excited about – especially the section on feeding toddlers. My toddler really listens to his body and it’s been so interesting watching his food journey. He is really into salads at the moment and recently discovered vegetable juice and smoothies and is absolutely addicted. I can’t wait to see what else I can tempt him with!

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_12 (Large)

Sweet potato and cranberry salad

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_09 (Large)

Pesto stuffed mushrooms

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_08 (Large)

Cheesy cucumber bites

raw_uncooking_class_foodlyaffair_14 (Large)

Maple cherry bombs

If you’re interested in going raw then I absolutely recommend a raw (un)cooking class. It’s a great way to be introduced to the entire process of buying and (un)cooking raw food as well as picking up heaps of great tips along the way. Plus you get to sit down and eat everything at the end! You can find some of Hannah’s upcoming classes listed here.