Yoghurt has to be my most favorite dairy delight ever! However, I’ve noticed lately the labeling of yoghurt has become cheekier and much more misleading. To me natural yoghurt is plain old yoghurt, no sugar, no cream, no added unnecessary stuff to muck up the entire reason for eating yoghurt… to be healthy. And most other flavoured yoghurts have copious amounts of sugar, so you may as well be hoeing into a Mars bar.

I was shocked one day while perusing the yoghurt fridge that most ‘natural Greek style’ yoghurt has cream in it. Boo Hoo! I don’t want it. The pic below is one of my current faves, truly natural, no cream, no sugar, just yoghurt! I’ll add to it what I want, when I want, on my own thank you very much!

natural yoghurt

My Greek Style Natural Yoghurt Recipe

I also love the Jalna Bio-dynamtic full fat yoghurt too. Yes, yes I do.

Natural Yoghurt

Pop – clean tea towel into a sieve
Pop – the sieve into a bowl allowing some room between the sieve and the bowl
Pop – yoghurt into tea towel that’s in the the sieve, that’s in the bowl
Wrap – the over hang of the tea towel to cover yoghurt
Pop – in fridge for an hour or so, until yoghurt is really thick and much of the water has dripped out of the yoghurt into the bowl

Think, creamy and delicious but noooooo cream! And tastes way better than store bought!

greek hand painted sign

About ten years ago my dad decided to buy a piece of land on a small island in the middle of the Aegean in Greece. It’s become a refuge for family and friends to meet while traveling Europe and a place that holds so much of what we are creating here in Australia. The vast water that stretches beyond is mesmerizing, the view spectacular beyond two smaller islands and over the waters of the Aegean sea. As the color of the day changes so does the island, cascading and winding around the cliffs, the ocean reflecting up and mixing both land and sky.

greek island view
greek island view

Dad’s house rests on the back of enormous rock faces with ancient olive trees, sage bushes and goats living harmoniously together. The cliffs are rugged, dry and hot during the day and as the late afternoon emerges the rock faces undergo a transformation from brown to red, to yellow, and blue hazes that reflect and bounce a sublime light of the setting sun.

greek island view from bedroom
greek bedroom
greek island cliffs

The Greek island still holds an innocence about it, a feeling of living simply and as raw as the landscape. One of my favorite parts of visiting Greece is the way we get our food. Everyday or two a man in his little red truck filled with fresh fruit and vegetables drives past the house. The house is set high above the road so you can see his little truck winding around the twisting narrow bends along the ocean as he travels out from the main port. As he gets closer, he gives a little toot, and you respond with a little wave if you’re wanting to purchase his goods today. Divine watermelons, capsicums, cucumbers, grapes, lemons, oranges, zucchinis, garlic, and onions. So fresh, and everything you need. I speak the little Greek I know which seems to impress him and he starts to chat away. Eeeekk, I blush and say sorry, I only know ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. He blushes too and we have a laugh. For 10/15 euro I buy copious amounts of healthy, beautiful fresh food. ‘Efkharistó’ (thank you) I say, he waves and off he goes. Precious! Oh, how I wish I could do this back at home.

greek food
greek island view and food

Ok, now to present my fruit and vegetables proudly to everyone and time for a swim, a vino and a siesta.

greek decore
greek island bedroom

We head down the road to our friend’s bar that sits right on the water. Looking over the ocean under the homemade sun umbrellas, our feet lapping in the water as we sit and drink Mythos (the national Greek beer). We watch the men spear fishing for fresh squid. They emerge from the water with 7,8,9 squid attached to their fingers, and begin beating them on the rocks to make the squid more tender for our eating. The best way to eat calamari is straight from ocean to BBQ to table.

greek island beautiful beach
greek island boat
greek food

Fillet calamari, place on a hot bbq for about a minute and serve immediately with freshly squeezed lemon. Delicious!! Oh and a beer!

greek beer
The deck around the house becomes the main living area. Never scared to move the inside furniture outside, we set up each morning for our day of indulgences. Food, wine, exploring, swimming and fun. The food I had gathered the day before becomes the focus of my day, I simply can’t wait to use the beautiful vegetables. Early that morning our friends drop over a large bag full of small fish and a large bag of bread, fresh from their bakery. Heavenly!

greek food

My inspiration:

greek cooking

Baked fish with capsicum, capers, tomato and dill

fish (one large fish or a a few smaller ones to wrap individually)
1 medium capsicum (cut into long pieces)
4 teaspoons capers
2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)
a few sprigs of dill or parsley
salt pepper
olive oil

foil (enough to wrap 1 fish or wrap smaller ones individually)

place – a small amount of olive oil on foil place fish on foil
add – tomato, capsicum, capers, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil
fold – foil to make into a parcel with no holes.
place – in hot oven/BBQ for about 15 mins

serve with salad and bread

greek angel

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Which fruit, vegetables and produce should we buy organic?

what organic vegetables to buy

Ever crunched into a delicious home grown carrot? Then you’ll know anything home grown and organic tastes better. A lot better. And if food is grown without being sprayed with poisonous pesticides, or hit with chemical fertilizers, it’s a better story for our body – no chemical traces, and much more nutritious and nourishing. But it’s not always that simple to tick all boxes when buying our food, and we all know being able to afford ‘organic’ is sometimes just not possible. So what organic produce should we be using in our everyday life? Well, everything ideally, but what about a checklist for the “must-haves” for going organic, and what we can get away with buying regular varieties? Here’s some helpful info to help get you started…

Best to Go Organic:

Dairy – Free of antibiotics and hormones
Broccoli – More delicious! Here’s a cute tip on growing broccoli.
Chicken – ‘Free range’ is not heavily patrolled and chickens can still live in very cruel conditions and be fed antibiotics. Check out my post on free range eggs and caged chickens.
Lettuce – More delicious!
Celery – Now this is a tricky one for me. I gotta admit it’s tough to grow celery, so that’s why they spray them so heavily, but by golly we then put those pesticides in our mouth…. erk!!
Apples – Pesticides are used pretty heavily if not organic. Always buy your apples in season, they’ll taste better and be cheaper too.
Carrots – Taste the difference peeps! A carrot tastes so so much better organic or home grown!

What You Can Get Away with Not Being Organic… within reason…

Bananas – Although maybe not organic, buy ones that are allowed to ripen naturally on the tree or during transport. Many of the pretty looking ones in the super market are still green when they’re picked and then they’re gassed to make them ripen artificially. I hate when you choose an amazing golden yellow ripe looking banana, only to discover in the first bite it’s floury and not ripe at all. Sad face.
Garlic – Make sure you buy local garlic. Many of the bulbs in the super market have been bleached or whitened in some way so be careful what you chose. You might like to find out more on growing your own garlic!
Corn – Not much pesticide gets used, so it’s an OK choice.
Avocados – Buy Australian! Buy local. I’ve mentioned Barham Avocados being the best, and they don’t use pesticides!
Mushrooms – Limited pesticides, so OK to buy regular mushies.

Oh and try not to forget to seek out fair trade coffee and chocolate. Healthy working conditions and environmental choices for our faves.

It’s traces of pesticides we’re trying to avoid in our food choices. We do have choices that are great for our bodies and our planet. No harmful pesticides in our soils please. When we can afford to fork out the cash for organic, let’s do it! Then with time, let’s hope we can all bring the price of organic produce down to make it affordable for everyone, while knowing we’re doing something positive for our earth and supporting the organic farmers. Our farming land is being made less productive by the constant use of pesticides and chemicals, so more organic farming = a healthier earth, a healthier you and me.

fluffy baby chicken

Rant over.

Happy Face.

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When it comes to eggs, is free range really free range? How should we choose which eggs to buy? Here’s a few pointers to help you decide between free range, cage, organic and barn laid eggs.

Let’s start with some facts on battery farmed eggs so we can make informed decisions on whether or not to buy them. Battery hens and caged eggs are all horrific displays of animal cruelty. As many as seven battery farmed chickens are squashed into wire cages the size of a piece of A4 paper. There is no room for them to roam around as they would naturally in the wild. From so little movement in their confined space the chickens often have distorted feet, broken bones, unhealthy skin, and feathers falling out, not to mention the birds being de-beaked. Because of the health problems that arise from the living conditions, the chickens are fed antibiotics to try to prevent other disease outbreaks, and often hormones to promote growth.

free range egg

free range eggs in carton

In battery farms or caged egg farms, the chickens are de-beaked or their beaks are clipped to prevent them from becoming cannibalistic, or hurting of other chickens because of their cramped situation. The beaks are often clipped while the birds are fully conscious with no pain relief. De-beaking is still carried out by some free range producers, so even free range still has its’ flaws. It all depends on the actual producer, as here in Australia there is no standard that has to be met to legally label eggs free range, but generally free range means the birds have less density (more space), and have access to roam outside. Barn laid is a small step better from cage eggs, with the birds having more space. And organic free range means you’re getting eggs from chickens with a much more natural diet and living conditions.

I suppose it’s all about becoming aware of how your eggs are being produced, and what type of eggs are contained in the food you buy. Everyday grocery products like biscuits, mayonnaise, and ice cream all feature eggs. The big question is do they use free-range or organic eggs? Many do not. I called up Heinz and asked outright if they use free range eggs in their mayonnaise and they answered ‘oh we have never had someone call and ask that, but no we don’t.’ Where does your favourite breakfast cafe source their eggs from? There’s a growing awareness of getting more naturally produced food on our plates, but we are behind the curve. Europe has outlawed caged eggs completely, and it begs the question why hasn’t Australia yet? There are moves afoot to ban battery hens in Tasmania, so hopefully other states follow suit. At least when we look at our supermarket shelves half of our choice now is at least free range, but we still have a long way to go.

So have a good look at the carton of eggs you buy, as the choices we make can create change. Basically the bestest eggs would be from hens in our own backyard, no antibiotics, no hormones, fed what we choose and kept in a free roaming animal friendly home. But although the humble backyard chicken coop is growing in popularity, that’s not always possible, so the best bet is making informed choices that suit what we can afford and morally be comfortable with. Will it be caged? Free range? Organic? Or our own chickies? Our purchasing decisions can make a difference to an industry where some exploit; if we increase demand for food produced with care and respect, we can effect positive change.

All About Eggs – A General Guide for Choosing Which Eggs to Buy

Caged Eggs/Battery Hens

Chickens are de-beaked, kept permanently in tiny cages with 5 other birds, fed antibiotics and hormones.

Barn Laid Eggs

Chickens have more room to move around, and have access to perches, beaks are often clipped or removed, often fed antibiotics and hormones.

Free Range Eggs

Similar to barn laid eggs, but have access to outside areas for a certain time each day. Some free range operations still clip the bird’s beaks, other free range egg farmers are very dedicated to animal welfare. Corn-fed chickens aren’t free range unless this is also stipulated on the label.

Organic Free Range Eggs

Chickens roam outside, eat a much more natural diet, do not receive antibiotics or hormones, and are not de-beaked.

Home Grown Eggs

Up to you! Feed your chickens food scraps, grain, and let them spend their days roaming around your garden eating bugs, and they’ll repay you with beautiful eggs with creamy, yellow yolks.

Yikes! Heavy dudes I know, but something I thought was interesting, a little disturbing, and definitely something worth thinking about.

But now, let’s celebrate eggs with a delicious organic, free range egg sandwich! Yummy!

Herbed Egg Sandwich Recipe for Two

egg sandwich

3 hard boiled free range organic eggs
1 heaped dessert spoon of good quality Mayo
Chives, thyme, parsley (few sprigs of each)
Salt and pepper
Lettuce
Delicious multi-grain bread

Boil – eggs and de-shell
Mash – eggs and add mayo to combine
Chop – up all the herbs
Add – herbs to mayo and egg
Season – as needed
Pop – crispy lettuce onto bread and then egg mixture

Either eat as an open sandwich or full sandwich, the egg salad sandwich is delicious and goes perfectly with my rustic tomato soup recipe.

For more information on Australian free range egg options, check out Free Range Eggs.

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I came across this crazy fact yesterday in a cookbook by Matthew Evans and I had to share it. Unbelievable! This is a pretty massive secret that I had no idea about. I don’t need a better reason to grow my own lettuce. No mister man, I do not.

photo

Lettuce All Grow Lettuce! Corny, silly head me.

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