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At Grandam's Place

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Why you should use a food diary and how to do it

Why you should use a food diary and how to do it
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
A healthy outside starts on the inside. --Robert Urich
Last month was our wedding anniversary-just a low-key affair but we finished the evening with a treat-Magnum ice-cream. I don't know about you but I love a Magnum ice-cream. There are so many delicious flavours- Classic, Ego Caramel, White. What's your favourite!

​Would it surprise you to know that, should you decide to indulge in one smooth, velvety chocolate coated Magnum ice-cream sprinkled with toasted almond slivers, you'll be consuming 270 calories? Would it also surprise you to know that you'd have to engage in strenuous weight-lifting for 30 minutes to work off those calories? Makes you think, doesn't it. I'm thankful that our anniversary is but a yearly event.😊

A Big Mac might take only 5 minutes to eat but you'll have to set aside 2 hours 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off those Big Mac calories.

And a tasty snack of potato chips?? Start scheduling a 30 minute intensive bout in the boxing ring.
Eating habits count
So, while there is a ton of emphasis on exercising to stay fit, don't overlook your eating habits either. Healthy eating is just about one of the most important things you can do if you want to stay healthy and avoid illnesses. If fact, if you were to talk to an expert, they will tell you that a combination of exercise and eating correctly are the two best things you can do for your body.

There’s a common example of this that you may have already heard:
You would never think about putting the wrong type of gas into your car. You know that you won’t get too far before you run into a slew of problems. 

This is exactly the way of thinking that you need to apply to your own body. Only put in foods that will fuel your body and provide you with strength and energy to live life to the fullest.
Make wise food choices

Actually most people do know what the right kinds of foods are. They also admit that they should lose weight and get more exercise if they are overweight. It just seems so hard to put these actions into place for some reason. It is so much easier to avoid going to an exercise class or to grab fast food instead of cooking your own meals at home.

But, you need to think of the consequences and the long term effects this will have on your body, and on your life. Do you want to risk developing diabetes or having a heart attack at an early age?

Let’s compare some food choices:
What is healthier? Having a couple of doughnuts for breakfast or sitting down to a bowl of oatmeal and fresh fruit? This one seems quite obvious.

Which of these is a better option?
A salad with fat free dressing or natural peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread?
Before making your choice you need to keep in mind what you are planning on eating for the rest of the day.

Your body requires good fats so the natural peanut butter is not that bad of a choice. It also contains protein, which will give you energy. The bread is a carbohydrate which will help to fill you up. This is a good choice if you are going to be active for the rest of the day.

On the other hand if you are planning a higher fat dinner and will be sitting in the office for the afternoon – the salad may be a better choice for you.

Think and plan ahead
By thinking and planning ahead there is no reason why you cannot have a few foods that you might consider a treat, such as the peanut butter. If you balance out your meals to include healthy fats, lean proteins and lots of fruits and veggies you will be on the right track to eating a healthy diet.

The importance of exercise
Now let’s talk about exercise. It is important to exercise for many reasons. First it helps to keep your joints and limbs moving. As you age, or if you sit all day, you will notice that your joints become stiff. Over time your range of motion will steadily decline and you will have trouble doing simple, everyday tasks. Of course exercising helps your body burn off calories and keeps your weight within a healthy range.

If you do eat a higher fat meal then plan on exercising a little more the next day to counteract the calories and avoid gaining a pound or two. Remember too that the more active you are the more calories you can eat. If you sit all day, you won’t require as many calories.

Using  a food diary.. your guide to healthy food habits

Make a commitment to healthy food choices-- and stick with it
As you can see it is not that complicated to make healthy food choices. Stick to natural foods as much as possible, avoid fast foods and pre-packaged ones. Instead choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lean cuts of protein. Make a point of reading the ingredient list and not buying any foods that have labels with items you cannot read.

It’s never too late to improve your lifestyle. Begin today by making a commitment to eat healthy and increase your activity level. ​

​A great way to help you keep on-track and motivated with your food choices and exercise routines is with a food diary.
Some samples of food diaries you may like to consider using
 A food diary or simple menu planner can help you focus on the foods you need to eat, help plan out your meals, keep you on track and help you to maintain or even lose weight.

Check out these examples:
*Daily Wellness Journal. This beautifully bound journal provides the opportunity to list your goals, plan your meals and workouts, review your progress and identify areas to improve.  Use this link and receive a special discount when ordering.

*28 Day healthy eating and lifestyle guide.  This is more of a lifestyle/recipe book that contains weekly meal plans, 28 day workout poster with exercises and more than 200 recipes to get you started on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

​*DIY your own food diary and menu planners.  I found a wonderful food/recipe folder at Kmart for $5 plus a set of themed stickers as a great start for my 'design your own' planner/journal. You can find a helpful range of these printable menu planner/journals, to download, print and slip into your folder, on my online shop and Etsy store.

*Food diary apps. There are many apps that will help you track your activities, list your food consumption, allow you to snap pictures of your food, help you make better choices, record your goals and provide incentives to overcome cravings and emotional eating. Start with checking out this list of 'best choice' apps. Easy Meals app, filled with healthy food choices, is a good one to check out. Another interesting one is the Food Smart app and Sugar Swap app- find out just how much sugar is lurking in the food you're eating.

*Online menu planning sites. Last, there are some online sites that you can use to plan and organise your meals and include healthy eating choices. Special dietary requirements are also catered for. Start with Gathered Table. Create your own weekly meal plan with Meal Planner Pro. You'll find information about each meal-calorie content, fats, protein, carbs and more. The recipes from What2Cook are quick, easy and delicious. When you sign up (it's free) you'll be sent a weekly menu plan that you can customise and save. It includes a shopping list to simplify your life, too.
I know.... there's a lot of choices but it also means that there's such to be something that works well for you and your needs. Take a bit of time to decide what will work best for you, which format you feel most comfortable using and whether you'd like to use a full food diary and life tracker or a simple menu planner.

Let me know what's your favourite tool/planner.

This article first appeared on

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Plus, when you order though my links, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff.

Thank you, in advance, for your support.

Monday, 23 January 2017

How and why you need to develop a daily walking habit

How and why you need to develop a daily walking habit
'An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.' - Henry David Thoreau
The bright sunshine in Australia is beautiful but intense for most of the day. It makes for a wonderful holiday destination, brilliant beach snapshots, and plenty of solar energy. But it's also really important to wear a hat, sunglasses and 30+ SPF sunscreen, frequently applied.

Although my grandmother was accustomed to cooler, softer English days, without exception, she would venture out for her daily walk despite the heat. Did it harm her? No.. she lived well into her 90s. In fact, current research would indicate that her daily walking habit probably contributed to her longevity.

We were designed to walk for miles and miles to hunt and gather our food. Yet, in modern society, we spend most of our time sitting down. That is not good for our bodies leading to a host of health problems. This is probably one of the most important reasons to make an effort to move around and go for a walk each day. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
How can walking help me?
Research indicates that walking offers great health benefits, from helping you to lose weight and to de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and BMIs. And although it's seen as a convenient and easy 'keep fit' option, it can be difficult to develop a daily walking habit.

​Most of us sit for our work, we eat sitting down, and to be honest all we want to do when we come home from work is plop down on the couch for a Netflix marathon until bedtime.

​In other words, getting and staying in the habit of going for a walk each day can be a bit of a challenge. But that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to get in the habit of going for that walk just like we’re in the habit of brushing our teeth twice a day or taking out the trash on Tuesdays. Once it’s a well ingrained habit, it won’t be as much of a challenge to make sure we go for a walk each day.
Okay, how can I begin?
A great place to start is to find a walking route you enjoy. It helps to make it as easy as possible. Your favourite walk may offer beautiful vistas, but if it’s a 30 minute drive there and back, you’ll be less likely to do it every single day. Instead, save that walk for the weekends and come up with something convenient and pleasant for your everyday walking routine. If you can, find a route in your own neighbourhood so you can leave right from your front door. Just lace up your shoes and start walking.

Challenge yourself to walk faster or with less effort
Taking the same route every day helps form that habit. It’s also encouraging to notice that you can walk the same loop faster or with less effort over time. It proves that you're making a difference and are getting stronger and increasingly more fit.
Make the time enjoyable by listening to music or a favourite podcast
Listening to your favourite music, podcast or audio books is also helpful. It will make the time go by faster and give you something else to look forward to. You can even use your favourite media as a way to bribe yourself to go for your daily walk. Let’s say you have a couple of podcasts you enjoy. Save them for your walks and only let yourself listen to them while you’re walking. It’s a great incentive to get out there even on days when you’re not feeling it.
 Make it social
​Last, but not least, consider walking with other people. Find a walking group in your area, or talk a friend or neighbour into becoming your walking buddy. Not only is it more fun to walk when you have someone to talk to, it also has some built in accountability. It’s much harder to skip a walking workout when you know that other people are waiting for you and relying on you to join them.  A growing number of walking groups are meeting at the local shopping centre. It's air conditioned and flat, making walking comfortable, fast and easy.

Download an app to measure your progress
There is a growing number of apps that can encourage you and help develop your walking habit. Use these apps to map and measure your walks, set walking goals, earn rewards, and share your achievements with friends. Check out the readers choice awards for walking apps before downloading.

Why not take your smartphone with you and share your walk on social media? Develop your photography and Instagram skills with a quick online course  and enjoy sharing amazing images from your walk.

Give these tips a try and see if they help you make walking a daily habit and an integral part of your health, your fitness, and your life. Download and print the free infographic below. Mount it on your fridge or noticeboard. Refer to it regularly for inspiration and encouragement.
Key Takeaways:
*Choose a simple route for your first walk.
*Check with your friends and family and find a walking buddy.
*Choose your favourite music or podcast to listen to while walking.
​*Download a walking app to measure your progress and share your achievements
*Do you wish you could find time to refuel your tank, improve your health, invest more into your family, or even just to slow down and breathe? Take the 14-Day Make Over My Mornings online course now!
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*Read regular family ideas with a FREE digital Grandma's Place magazine subscription
*Find more ideas and inspiration in the articles below.

(This post first appeared

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

An Easy Approach to Feeding Fussy Toddlers

(This article titled Want an Easy Fix for Feeding Fussy Toddlers? Read this! appeared first At Grandma's Place.)

" 'M hun'ry! Nannie.....'m hun'ry!"
It doesn't matter how well-fed my small grandsons are, they always seem to be hungry, or so they say. 
But  even more aggravating... they've become picky eaters, all of a sudden. So, how can I feed them? They'll devour a meal one day but refuse to touch it another; even foods that I thought were their favourite! And how can I encourage them to try healthy alternatives? They won't even look at anything different. 
Mmmmm..... feeding fussy eaters is my constant frustration at the moment and I'm not alone; I know of many mothers (and grandmothers, too) with similar concerns.
Well, yes, I know there are some wonderful and imaginative recipe books to inspire mothers and encourage those fussy little eaters.
But, I've found a quick and easy way to handle the 'feeding fussy toddlers dilemma'. It doesn't involve  time-consuming meal preparation or buying truckloads of special ingredients. It's certainly worked for me, and it's so easy!

A mealtime platter... one for each child

I've found that, if I cut up a wide variety of bite-sized foods and arrange them on a platter, they will happily  pick through and graze from the smorgasbord of foods. Truly! It works. They love to choose their own food to eat and I give them lots of varieties in small doses.

Here's why I like this idea
  • My toddlers will eat, without having to push them to try... that's a big plus!
  • It's quick and easy
  • Not expensive
  • It allows you to slip in some new foods for them to try with little drama
  • You can easily use up leftovers
How to prepare a toddler platter
  • Use a special tray or board to make it look fun and special.(I found some individual sized bamboo ones  but you could use small  wooden trays, firm vinyl placemats or even woven table mats covered with banana leaves.)
  • Cut up everything into bite-sized pieces 
  • Use a variety of flavours, colours and textures to make an interesting presentation.
  • Include hot and cold foods as well as sweet and savoury.
  • Include yoghurts or sauces in small dishes or add a dollop to the platter. (They love to use their fingers and I'm happy for them to try, if they'll eat it.)

Food suggestions
  • cheese cubes -sausage rolls, sliced baby tomatoes- fish fingers cut into chunks- sliced chicken tenders- chips- ravioli
  • diced avocado- dutch carrots- berries- sliced pear and apple- pomegranate- watermelon- dried cranberries or sultanas- trail mix- yoghurt coated sultanas or goji berries 
  • corn chips- popcorn- pretzels- soy crisps- rice crackers- vege chips- sesame seeds- bread sticks or slices of garlic bread or croissant
  • yoghurt- cheese sticks- dip- salsa

Other ideas to consider for meal platters
  • Add even more interest to your mealtime by eating your platter meals in different places
  • Spread a blanket outside under a tree
  • Go out on your decking or verandah
  • Build a cardboard fort and eat there.
  • Pitch a tent or shade cover either outdoors or indoors
  • Set up a trail of blocks, toys or stepping stones that lead to your meal platters

I've used meal platters for both lunchtime and evening meals and the kids love it. It's not a struggle to get them to eat. I can relax and enjoy my own platter and I've even found that the kids will try some unfamiliar foods without any prompting. If they don't eat some of the items on their platter, it's not a big deal since the quantities of each item on the platter are small. But altogether, it's surprising how filling an attractive assortment of foods on a platter can be. Try it yourself and I'm sure you'll enjoy it- it's easy and hassle free!

Friday, 17 July 2015

An easy way to connect with your older grandkids

A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm. ~Bill Vaughan
Childhood fun
When my grandkids were little, and I still have some who are, we could take long walks outside in the sunshine and search for ladybeetles and grasshoppers. We'd watch the busy ants at work and laugh at the nosey magpie who always follows us around and wants to know what we are doing.

If the weather was unfriendly, we'd build a cardboard cubby house indoors and decorate it with finger paint and stickers. We might serve a high tea of chocolate cupcakes and scones with jam and cream to all the teddy bears. (Teddies are well known for their fondness of chocolate cupcakes.) 
But, sadly, kids don't remain content with hunting for beetles. They grow up and their interests certainly change, though perhaps not their interest in cupcakes and scones. It's harder to connect with your older grandkids and build fun memories.

So.. how do you entertain older grandkids and generate a level of excitement and anticipation when they visit with you?
Fortunately, I have discovered Clip Circuit Electro Lab from Heebie Jeebies. Have you seen it?

So simple, kids can complete it themselves

It's a wonderful kit that contains colour-coded, numbered components that clip together to make various electronic projects- a light with an on/off switch, a buzzer, a fan and more. The manual that accompanies the kit provides step by step instructions to complete each project. Each piece also contains graphics that help kids learn about electric currents and more while working on each project.

There is a basic kit as well as larger kits to complete more advanced projects with additional components. Everything needed to build each project in the manual is included in the kits.'s lot's of fun and not just for the boys. You'd be surprised how much the girls enjoy clipping the components together to create a light or a buzzer, too.
Fun and educational
It worked out especially well with my grandson. He was studying electricity at school so this fun activity was also educational and reinforced his schoolwork. So, build some fun memories with your older grandkids. Invest in a kit yourself and I'm sure you and your grandkids will really enjoy these activities together.
Where will you find Clip Circuits Electro Labs?
I was able to pick up a kit at the Puzzling Store.

You can find them online here. Australian Geographic also stocks them. See here.

First published ..At Grandma's Place  

Monday, 22 June 2015

No Muss. No Fuss. Cooking for Kids

Maybe it's the cold weather. Maybe it's the kids home now on school holidays. Maybe it's the inspiration from a recent cookbook sale. Whatever the reason, I seem to be spending more time in the kitchen. And the kids have loved it.

 I recently bought a copy of the Australian Women's WeeklyCookies cookbook. The title grates a little.. Australians cook biscuits, not cookies. But the book itself is beautiful- not a big book but with beautiful layouts and wonderful photos. The front cover has a lovely, almost honeycomb, texture.

Mish Mash Cookies  The biscuit.. sorry, cookie.. recipes have been grouped into 4 categories: kids, cafe, holidays, occasions. Naturally, I began with the kids' cookies. And the Mish Mash cookies are a lot of fun. They are so easy that the kids can help you make them. They'll only take about 15 minutes to complete.

  • 250 gm milk chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 115gm packaged baby Oreo biscuits
  • 1 cup honey Tiny Teddy biscuits
  • 1 cup mixed mini pretzels
  • 2 tablespoons caramel choc bits

Directions:  Melt the milk chocolate and spoon 1/2 teaspoonfuls into 6cm circles onto baking paper. Before the chocolate circles can set, gently push 2 tiny teddy biscuits, 2 mini Oreos, a couple of mini pretzels and a few caramel chocolate buds into the melted chocolate. 
Yep.. that's it! You could vary the biscuits by substituting white chocolate or even popping a couple of M&Ms for colour.

Once the chocolate has set, carefully peel the biscuits off the baking paper and pack into air-tight containers.

I packaged up the biscuits into small white boxes labelled with my Grandma's bakery stickers (you can find the download here)
.. one box for each grandchild and included a little gift tag.
See below..

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Cook up some memories with your grandkids

Yesterday, I cooked up a batch of simple Jam Drops and, while still warm,  packaged them up for my grandkids. I wasn't certain whether they would appreciate them. After all, the grocery shelves are lined with colourful packs of commercially made biscuits of all shapes, assortments and flavours. And Jam Drops are quite basic.

They're the sort of biscuit that I used to whip up quickly and pop into the oven while the dinner cooked. But that was when my kids were small... and times, and tastes, change.

Apparently, though, kids still like Jam Drops- especially when they're still warm and fragrant. "You know, you're just like a real grandma, Nan... you know, cooking up special treats for their kids," commented one of my grandsons, with his mouth filled with Jam Drop. "How many can I have?"

In case you've misplaced your own family Jam Drop recipe, I've listed my own below. It varies considerably from my own grandmother's vague recipe that included terms like: 'add a good amount of... and pour in some milk until it looks right.'

Jam Drops are great for involving the kids and teaching them some culinary skills, too. If they're old enough, they can measure the ingredients, stir in the egg and flour. They all love to roll the mixture into small balls and it's pretty easy to make and fill the small hole in each one. They don't take long to cook, either, which is great for impatient young cooks.

If you're making them to give to your grandkids, package them up in a special box or container. A small noodle box works well. Add a bit of ribbon or string and a little tag. I've created one for you to download and use if you wish.. see below and click on the link to download the pdf.

  You can even buy a 'home made' stamp to press into the base of your biscuits before cooking, if you want a special touch for your creations. The Jam Drops mixture is a little soft for this, unfortunately, but it would be great for shortbread.

Jam Drops Recipe
60gm butter
60gm sugar
1 egg
120gm self-raising flour
pinch salt

1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add egg and beat well.
3. Add flour and salt and mix well.
4. Roll into small balls and place on a baking tray. ( I use a silicone tray.. they're great!)

5. Dip the end of a wooden spoon into a bit of flour and then press into each ball of mixture to make a small hole in each.
6. Fill the hole with jam.
7. Bake in a moderate oven (180 deg) for 15 mins.

Enjoy your biscuits and share with your grandkids...

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Create a mini greenhouse in an afternoon

It's wet and miserable today, with sudden downpours of rain that are too heavy for a fun walk in the rain and certainly too cold to take two small boys puddle jumping. But they will be here soon looking for an exciting afternoon adventure with grandma.

Fortunately, I've stocked up on indoor activities for just such a situation. Today's plan?... a wonderful mini vegetable garden.

 'Woolworths Fresh Food' store's latest shopping incentive for families and the latest in their range of collectible cards, is Jamie Oliver's Garden.

The collectible cards are very attractive with some textured, embossed and even heat sensitive that change if you hold your finger on the print. There are also some cards that are fragrant.

An optional journal can be purchased to store the cards and stickers or you could also buy a coordinated designer tin.

I noticed that, among other matching items that can be purchased, there were some small aprons, gardening trowels and watering cans. So I stocked up on those items for the boys. You have to look the part.. it's half the fun!

And... I bought the mini-greenhouse. It's really great. There is a shallow rectangular tray as the base ready to fill with the provided potting mix.

The rest of the greenhouse is pre-printed and cut clear plastic ready to be assembled. When finished, it rests on the tray and is easily removed to water the garden. Stickers are provided to decorate the greenhouse and herb seeds are included ready to sprinkle over the tray of potting mix.

It's very simple and lots of fun.
But if you can't obtain one of these little greenhouse kits, you can still create your own.

You will need:
* large clear plastic drinking glass (You can use any container but I used plastic for safety with small boys. A glass or plastic jar, bowl or container would look very attractive. Be imaginative.)
* small amount of gravel for drainage
*filtering charcoal if you have any but it's not essential
*potting mix
* herb seeds or seedlings (chives, cress, mint, oregano,parsley)
*colourful stickers
*herb labels are optional but look great to pop in amongst your herbs. You can find some to download here..

The instructions are simple: add some gravel in the base of your clear container, then some charcoal, if you have some.
Half-fill the container with potting mix and sprinkle with the herb seeds. If you have seedlings, gently plant these in the potting mix. Don't over-fill your container.

Then add some stickers to the outside of your container. (The boys wanted to add lots to their garden container.)

Don't forget to water your mini-garden; that's a big part of the fun for small boys. It might be better to use a spray bottle of water to avoid drowning the seedlings.

And, once the herbs begin to grow, they can be pinched off to use in cooking, added to butter for a herb spread or sprinkled over salads.