Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five reasons I love my Cuisine Companion - plus healthy brownies recipe!

This is a S3 post - I received a Cuisine Companion for review purposes
For full details please see my disclosure policy

I've been playing with Tefal's new Cuisine Companion non stop since I got my paws on one last month. It's been an interesting ride, seeing what it can do, checking out new recipes and adapting old ones. Mostly I've made one meal at a time, but I did do a bit of bulk cooking, whipping up some freezer meals for a friend who is about to welcome twins in to her family, and some yummy "I can't believe they're healthy" brownies for her older kids lunchboxes.

I've been trying to think of the five things I love about it the most, and narrowing it down to five is actually bloody hard. Akin to choosing your favourite child, if your child was a kitchen wonder machine. But I'm being ruthless and capping it, otherwise I'd be here all weekend, sounding like I was writing a brochure.

1. Clear Lid
You know how little kids sit and stare at the washing machine? Well, I stand and stare at Cosette. Oh, you don't name your appliances? This is awkward. French machine, French name, a nod to Les Mis, it had to be. But I digress. The clear lid is just so freakin' handy! If you're cooking and the condensation stops you seeing in, the centre does pop out so you can have a peek through. The lid comes apart for easy cleaning if needed - but I've only needed to do that if I've been milling my own flour or crushing up nuts and the teeny particles get everywhere.

2. Big Bowl
A whopping 2.5L capacity bowl means making large batches a breeze. But it's not just big, the mouth and base are wide enough to get in to with your spatula without turning yourself in to a contortionist.

3. Easy Blade Swap
Slide blade in. Mix things. Slide blade out. Pick up new blade, slide in. Repeat. There is no locking and mucking about, it goes in and stays in. When it's time to pour out the mixture, slide out the blade and away you go. It makes it sooooo easy to get every last drop of soup or sorbet out when you don't have to be dodging blades. Although you may want to leave a few traces of cake batter for bowl licking purposes. Let's not ruin childhoods, OK?

4. High Display
My eyes are not the best, even with contacts, so I have been known to bend down close to appliances to find out what the remaining time is, what setting I've got it set to, or even if it's turned on. Not any more. Hurrah! It seems so simple to have the display higher and angled up. Clever.

5. One Touch
A heap of the recipes in the Million Meals book are one touch recipes. Chuck in the ingredients and select the pre-set function and off you go. So say you're cooking a soup, it goes slowly at first, stirring it all together, then when it's all cooked through, it changes speed and temperature by itself to whizz it all up in to a creamy deliciousness. It even changes temperature again to keep it warm when it's finished, so you don't have to worry about it either burning or going cold.

Grating cheese, finely dicing garlic, blending chickpeas to hummus,
cooking bolognaise, perfecting "cauli rice", and mixing cakes and loafs
I could have mentioned so many other things (it's quiet, the temperature increments are great, the adjustable steam vent, the stay cool handle on the steam basket, and heaps more), but I'm trying to restrain myself.

I've had a few questions thrown my way from readers about what I don't like about it, and so far I can't find anything - I was originally saying I didn't like that the lid didn't come apart for cleaning, but then I realized it does and I was just a bit daft. Others have asked if the fact that it doesn't have in built scales is annoying, and for me, it isn't an issue - I rarely used the inbuilt scale in my competitor product because my pouring skills suck. Instead of gradually adding 30g of flour I would add 5g, 10g, 15g, 20g, 80g. SHIT. Then the next five minutes are spent trying to fish out excess flour or whatever or adding more liquid and OMG TOO HARD!

So let's get to the best bit:

Healthy Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Because I can never just leave something be, this recipe has come about from experiments with a few different recipes and is most heavily influenced by a Get Commando Fit brownie that has been all over the internet for a while now. I have to play  with recipes until it suits me, my budget and my taste buds! And duuuuuude, these are gooooood.

You'll need:
250g sweet potato, peeled & roughly cut in to large cubes
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup of evoo
1/2 cup of rice malt syrup (use honey if you want it to be sweeter and don't mind adding sugar)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
2 tablespoons of protein powder (if you don't have this, you can use flour but it won't be as high in protein obviously)
1 cup of cocoa
2 tablespoons of plain flour

Grab Cosette, or your own Cuisine Companion then:
  • Preheat your oven to 180C
  • Place sweet potato in to Cuisine Companion bowl, using the Ultrablade*, set to pulse for 30 seconds (the machine automatically selects speed 12 for pulse)
  • Add in your eggs, vanilla, evoo and rice malt syrup** and mix on speed 6 for 10 seconds then scrape down the sides
  • Add protein powder if using, cocoa and flour and mix on speed 6 for 20 seconds, scrape down the sides and mix again for 10 seconds if necessary
  • Pour in to a lined lamington tray and bake for 20-22 minutes DO NOT OVER COOK!
  • Allow to cool slightly before cutting - I usually get 20 brownies from this
These are so rich, moist and utterly delish! You won't feel bad for eating one (two? three?) because they're full of the good stuff.

To serve in lunchboxes, cut them in to your desired size and freeze in an airtight container with a layer of baking paper or similar between so they don't stick together. Grab one out, wrap it in an eco wrapper and put it straight in to the lunchbox frozen and they'll thaw by recess.

*HOT TIP: If your sweet potato is super hard, maybe use the Crushing blade for the first step.

**HOT TIP: Measure your evoo first, pour it in, then use the same measuring cup without washing it to measure the rice malt syrup - the oil coating will mean the syrup comes out easily and you don't waste any.

If you have any specific questions about the Cuisine Companion or a recipe you'd like me to make in it, please let me know in a comment below as I'll be doing a full twelve month review.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I can't believe what my back xray showed

Photo by Michael Dorausch via Creative Commons. Text added.
The thing with training (and I'm using the term quite loosely) six days a week, is that any past injuries or niggling pains come out of the woodwork. Considering I've got a chronic pain disorder, it means my daily pain level has moved from whinge worthy to GIVE ME DRUGS worthy. It's being managed with strength training and Tramal  - ahhh, Tramal, I love you.

My mid back has been giving me the most grief since #GlowGetsFit started. It has bothered me for years. It feels like my spine isn't moving and my muscles are spasming. Last Saturday I was at friend's house for her 30th and by 9:30pm I sent MapGuy to the playroom to find a ball so I could get some relief. Everyone else was looking glam, and there I was, rolling a tennis ball between my back and a brick wall so that I could stay another hour.

After much deliberation and an embracing of my crunchy mama self, I booked in to see a Chiropractor. I've never been a fan of the profession, and have spent years and hundreds of dollars seeing physiotherapists and being loaded up with anti-inflammatories by GPs. I'm in such agony that I am willing to try anything.

Before my first treatment I was sent for xrays. Standing or sitting in one position kills me (never sit next to me on a plane if you can help it) so the process of getting them done and not being allowed to move almost brought me to tears.

Yesterday I got the results:

Query for Ankylosing Spondilitis. Big words for chronic inflammatory disease of the spine. Suspected because of the degeneration of my vertebrae. Apparently it has a large genetic component, and since my dad has it, I'm off for further tests.

Osteophytes. Big word for extra bone growth on my vertebrae. Also known as "parrot beaks". There are parrot beaks on my spine. Bwaarrk.

I thought that sounded bad, but then I was in for the shock of my life.

"Have you been in a car accident? A while ago?" he asked.

I thought back and remembered that I had actually been in a car vs bus crash. It was 1996 and my sports class was returning to school from swimming lessons. There were 30 of us crammed in to a 21 seat bus, meaning kids were in the aisles and my best friend and I, being the last to board, were on the steps. Totally sounds safe, right? Our teacher pulled out... smack, bang, straight in to a car traveling at 70km/h.

I was thrown against the doors of the bus and came back down, my mid back landing on the edge of the step, my head snapped back and hit the knee of a girl behind me, knocking me, momentarily, unconscious. I don't remember the impact, but my cuts and bruises told the story. All I remember was seeing a couple of blokes trying to force the bus doors open, and wondering why on earth were they doing that for. Ambulances turned up, a bunch of kids were loaded in to them and taken to hospitals around Perth. After a bit of poking and prodding, I was told I was fine, and sent home.

Bizarrely, the things I remember most about the crash is the blood on my stretcher from a small head wound, the cuts on my leg that were the exact shape of the door opening mechanism and my school skirt covered in grease from the door hinges.

"Yeah, almost 20 years ago... " I replied

"It's likely you had a vertebral wedge fracture."

Registering my blank look, he continued.

"At some point, you've broken your back. It's healed now, but this vertebrae is 7mm shorter on this side than the other."


That is INSANE!

He went on to explain that it's a compression fracture, and it could have been missed on initial xrays for a bunch of reasons, including if a scared 14 year old was crying a bit when they were being taken.

He let the news sink in and asked how I felt about that.

"I bloody told you it hurt!"

If I'm honest, I'm a bit pissed off that there is nothing much that can be done for the majority of the issues the xray showed, but at the same time, knowing there is a reason for my pain other than me just being weak and whingey, is actually reassuring. Hooray, I'm not (very) pathetic.

For the rest of the issues, like the wonky hips and stuff, I'm going to see a Chiropractor. I am scared and a little skeptical, but I'm so sick of this pain that I'd try almost anything right now to ease it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

5 Things No One Told Me About Getting Fit

Every day I'm shufflin'. I hope you have that song in your head now, because I do. Doo doo do doo do doo doo. I don't run. I do a part jog, part walk, part stumble "shuffle", hence the song. It's a signature move of mine, a result of having no idea what I'm doing and being in quite a fair amount of pain.

It's week four of my new fitness regimen and I'm doing pretty well. I'm slower and less fit that the average people in my fitness group, but the way I figure it, I'm not trying to be better than them, I'm trying to be better than me. And pretty much anything is an improvement on couch dwelling, sundae eating, chocolate chugging, Glow.

There's been a few things that have come as quite a shock to the system this last month. You know, other than the actual full body shock that is exercise when you're terribly unfit. I wish people had told me this:
  1. You'll be jogging along, knackered but feeling like a bit of a super star at the same time, and a child, possibly your own, will effortlessly overtake you. Little shits.
  2. You will have more washing to do. If you're doing proper workouts there is no "oh, I'll just air it out and wear it again tomorrow", you have to wash everything right now. You'll start showering in your bra to keep it in good condition. A whole extra outfit a day, sometimes TWO! 
  3. You will hurt every day. I seriously thought it would get less painful. I was so wrong. So very, very wrong. I'm only now, a month in, moving from "it huuuuuuuuurts" to "ooh, I really worked those muscles". It's not hurting less, but I'm getting (a bit) fitter. I didn't think it would happen, and for all I know it might turn back around next week because, well, I'm pretty whingey. I'll let you know.
  4. You will go through SO MUCH SHAMPOO. Because sweaty hair is disgusting. Blergh. My pink sections are so faded because I just keep stripping it out every day. 
  5. You will worship good fitting shoes, Epsom Salts, Deep Heat and the pain killer of your choice. My choice is Tramal because my body is pretty fucked. They'll become your own little essentials kit and you will guard them with your life. 
Saturday is my check in day. I have to do a benchmark fitness test, weigh myself and take all my measurements. I'm a bit scared, to be honest, because I haven't got a clue what the difference will be in the numbers and I don't know what is good and not so good. What I do know, is that the couple of times I've shuffled on the treadmill these past four weeks, the machine tells me I've burned few hundred calories. And I'm all THAT MUCH EFFORT FOR A TIM TAM?! Fuck this shit.

I'm trying not to worry about the number on the scale, because it's just a number, but if it's not really changed that much... I admit, I'll be disappointed. I've never been this motivated before, and I guess I'm just afraid of losing my mojo.

Fingers crossed tomorrow's results spur me on and don't make me crash and burn. Wish me strength, resilience, fitness, determination, pain free running, and all those good things.

What your fitness essentials? Did anything shock you when you first started?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Madame Secretary

I've been involved in the P&C at Tricky's school for a year now. At every meeting I would offer to help with the website, which was at first non-existent and now leaves a lot to be desired. Content, for one.

This year, with Tricky being at the school full time, I thought it was time to lift my game and push harder, so at the first meeting of the year I had my game face on. Which meant I didn't bring a bottle of wine like I did to the last meeting. What? That's totally what people do at those meetings, ya know!

I took a breath and put up my hand to be the P&C Secretary.

I was elected unanimously.

No one else actually nominated themselves, but that's just semantics, surely.

I am now Madame Secretary.

I've got hardly any experience and I really have no clue what I'm doing, but that's never stopped me before, so I sure as shit ain't gonna let it stop me now.

My first role has been to let a few people know that I'm not their secretary, I'm The Secretary, because that seemed to get a little mixed up there. But I'm not letting it phase me.

My second role, is to get the bloody school website in to a usable state. Which means at night, on top of blogging, cleaning up after dinner, putting the kids to bed, tidying the house, going for a jog, making lunches for the next day, relaxing, spending time with my husband, typing up the minutes and sending them out, I'll be teaching myself how to use Adobe Business Catalyst (why couldn't they just use Wordpress?!) and building a website. OH, and sleep. I forgot I need to do that, too.

There are not enough hours in the day.

But hey, I get to call myself Madame Secretary, and that makes the role much more desirable. I'm totes gonna get a shirt made. Or a badge. Or a business card. Whatever it is, it will be awesome and I will wear it with pride. Because I'm gonna rock this shit.

P.S. Um, help?

Monday, March 9, 2015

How to make sure your white wine is at the right temperature

This is a S3 post - I scored some wine! HUZZAH!!!
For full details please see my disclosure policy

I'm rather partial to a glass of wine. Or two. *ahem*

With dinner, with a cheese platter, in the bath, or even in my study when I'm hiding from my children. There is something about it, possibly the alcohol content, that just makes me relax. Even just holding the glass signals to my brain that it's time to chill out, which is why, through my pregnancies, I was known for drinking water out of a wine glass. Classy!

It is still bloody hot in Perth, to the point where my Dad wants to start a petition for March to be included in summer - yes, let's change the seasons, just for you, dude - and that means people everywhere are still struggling with sub-optimal wine temperatures. It might be a first world problem, but that doesn't make it right to ignore it. Don't be wine-ist.

Did you even know that wine was meant to be drunk at a certain temperature? Me neither, until recently. If it's too cold, then it tastes more acidic and if it's too warm, the lower notes dominate and change the flavour completely. So your favourite Pinot Gris won't taste like your trusty go-to bottle if the temperature is wrong.


So how do you make sure your white wine is being served at the right temperature?


See the little rectangle? It changes colour!
1. Buy a bottle of award winning Taylors Estate Sauvingnon Blanc or Pinot Gris from Taylors Wines - they have a little temperature sensitive panel printed directly on the label that lets you know when it's perfect to serve! Nifty, huh? But a fancy pants panel means nothing if it isn't good wine... and I'm happy to let you know that after extensive testing - for review purposes, because I take this reviewing stuff totally seriously - that this is goooood wine.

2. Pour a standard glass at a time, even if you have a giant wine glass the size of your head. That way it won't get warm by the time you get to the last sip. If you know you're going to sip it slowly (savouring your only glass for the evening, perhaps), pour less. It goes against my whole being, and possibly my religion, to pour half a drink, but it's better that way.

3. If it's a super hot day, pop a few frozen grapes in to your glass. They won't change the flavour too much, and they won't dilute the wine when they defrost. Also eating them afterwards is nice.

4. Store your wine in the fridge if you can. If it's too far from where you're sitting (I feel your pain, my couch is five metres away and sometimes that is MILES), grab an ice bucket, look fancy and Instagram that shit. If you don't care about looking fancy, grab an esky. 


1. Put ice blocks in your wine. Watery melty wine? Blergh, no thank you! I don't understand why you intentionally dilute your wine, people? Mother, I'm looking at you.

2. Show the colour change panel to your child who will then insist on pouring water over it or sticking his finger over it "just like the change colour cars, mum!". This way you can play with it yourself. 

For more details on the fancy pants temperature indicator check out the YouTube video below.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Glow Gets Fit

I've been kicking ass lately, even if I do say so myself.

I've been following the Get Commando Fit program (GCF - I've fulfilled my sponsorship obligations, anything I say about them now is unpaid) and I've been trying my bloody hardest. As someone who eats her feelings, it has been challenging on the hard days to not just go and get a sundae or some chips. Twice I've had a scoop of icecream, but it was a scoop not the whole tub like I'd usually do. And rather than going "well I've fucked up, might as well order a pizza, too" I've tried to be all zen and shit about it. It happened. Move on. Eat better tomorrow.

I know, right, who even am I? Next thing you know I'll be writing fitspo quotes or some shit.

I have motivation for the first time in forever. I'm eating well and exercising, along with doing daily yoga for free thanks to YouTube. Tricky and Bobbin join me most mornings before school, waving their little bottoms in the air for Downward Dog. If my bottom looked as cute as that I'd wave it in the air at every opportunity I got.

I weighed myself last week and I've lost a few kilos, but I'm resisting the urge to do it again until the GCF benchmark test in a few more weeks because I'm one of those obsessive people and I'll end up focusing too much on the number, which doesn't mean much, and less on how I'm feeling. I want to be fit and healthy. I want to be strong. I don't want to be a number.

My clothes are looser and my head is held higher. That's good enough for me.

Right now I'm sore. Bloody sore. And I could sleep for a week and still not feel refreshed because I'm exhausted. My doctor is working with me, doing some blood tests and the like, to help me get on track, and keeping me supplied with lovely pain meds - though I'm taking 1/6th of what was originally prescribed now.

It's a different type of pain, the post workout pain. I don't like it, but at the same time I don't hate it the way I do the muscle and ligament agony that comes with my chronic pain. I'm learning to differentiate between the two and it's a slow process. Figuring out what pain I can push through and what pain is seriously telling me to stop or I won't be able to look after my kids tomorrow.

I'm getting there. I'm planning on kicking even more butt, and having an online cheer squad is bloody amazing, so thank YOU!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I went to Sydney and all I got was this AWESOME KITCHEN MACHINE

This is a S3 post - I received a Cuisine Companion for review purposes
For full details please see my disclosure policy

Recently I was asked if I'd like to be one of the first in Australia to try out a new whizz bang kitchen machine. Who me? The one obsessed with kitchen appliances? Sure! Oh, the launch event is in Sydney? Hells yeah, I'll be up for that! An event, a mini holiday, a catch up with friends, and a night in bed without children kicking me in the back? How could I possibly refuse?

And so it came to pass that little ol' me got up at an ungodly hour to catch a flight to the other side of the country. But excited tired and exhausted tired are not one and the same, so I was up and at 'em.

Last Thursday, I, along with 15 other bloggers from all niches all around Australia, walked in to the Sydney Seafood School for our first glimpse of the Tefal Cuisine Companion. I'd Googled it because I am terribly impatient, but I was pumped to see what it could do in front of me. It was so new and shiny that I couldn't resist taking a reflection picture.

Champagne on arrival and through to a lecture theatre with a sleek test kitchen in front of us and screens on the top that showed close ups of the cooking - I felt like I was in the audience of a cooking show. After a demonstration, a taste test (thank you!), and a bit of a question and answer session, it was time to get hands on.

We moved through to the school kitchen... It was like being in Masterchef. Stainless steel appliances, freezer drawers, amazing ingredients, super sharp knives and the best bit, a Tefal Cuisine Companion each to play with.

And play we did. In teams of two we created a main and a dessert - I was with Karen from Yellow Dandy - she made a cheesecake while I made a summer risotto. I'm a hands on learner, so for me it was great to be able to press buttons, insert blades and take the lid on and off for real.
The machine was amazing and it surpassed my (very high) expectations and blew me away. An all-in-one kitchen wonder that lets you prepare meals easily - sometimes with just one touch!

Bloggers clockwise from left: Me, Kristyn from Mummy K, Jules from Zippy Zappy Life, Jess from Essentially Jess, Karen from Yellow Dandy.

We "slaved away over a hot stove" or, more accurately, laughed and joked while we pressed buttons, let the machine do the hard work, and generally pretended we were chefs on a cooking show. When our gourmet meals were cooked, I thought we might go back to the first room to eat them. I was wrong...

We moved to the banquet hall. A flippin' BANQUET HALL! Together we sat down to enjoy our meal in comfort with a glass of wine, friendly chatter, and quite a few Instagrams. We are bloggers, after all.

The awesome table and Jess from Essentially Jess having a taste of cheese cake
I'm very impressed with the machine. I own a competitor product, so of course I can't help but compare, but this has won me over, it's brilliant! I'll be doing a full review post very soon, pointing out my favourite features.

The Tefal Cuisine Companion is available at major electrical stores (think Harvey Norman) for $1699 and comes with scales, a recipe book with one million meal combinations, four blades in a storage container, an apron, a cleaning tool, a silicone spatula and a two year warranty.

If you have any specific questions about the Cuisine Companion or a recipe you'd like me to make in it, please let me know in a comment below as I'll be doing a full twelve month review.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...