On the Twelfth Day of Christmas….

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…twelve devils fighting…eleven emus kicking, ten wombats sleeping, nine crocs a weeping, eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree.

Merry Christmas to you all!  We made it.  Given that twelve Tasmanian Devils are fighting today, I am not suggesting that you are devils but there may be some pretty crazy eating behaviour today.  I may even be involved myself.  I found this greeting card recently by British company ‘Make Do’ that I thought summed up today perfectly.

Enjoy this happy day with your loved ones.

Christmas Day

On the Eleventh Day….

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Eleven emus kicking…ten wombats sleeping, nine crocs a weeping, eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Emus worry me, they really do.  Beady little eyes and a lonnnnnnggg neck that looks like it might reach out at any moment and give you a little peck followed up by a quick kick.  An iconic Australian product that we all know is the good old Emu Export beer.  It is still around but not considered to be in vogue now.  It was and still is a full-strength beer but now we are bombarded with low carb beers.  Are they the real deal? Low carb beers are low in carbohydrates but they still contain alcohol and therefore kilojoules.  Choosing a low carb beer over a full strength beer will save you about 100 kilojoules.  In a 375ml can or stubby of full strength beer there will be approximately 13 grams of carbohydrate compared to 3 grams in the low carb version, so this could be useful for diabetics but there is still have issue of the alcohol content.  Low carb beers are not new in Australia and are not the same as ‘light’ beers which are lower in alcohol, so watch out for the false promises of beer advertisers. If you are concerned about your weight (and Christmas Day may not the day to be concerned), consider choosing a beer that you enjoy and drinking less of it.

On the Tenth Day…

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Ten wombats sleeping…nine crocs a weeping, eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Aaaahhh, sleep.  Can somebody find me some?  I don’t need 8 hours sleep but more than 5 would be a treat.  Too many things to do and three little kids do not make a good recipe for a restful sleep.  I know I am not alone but I also know that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture so bring on the Christmas break I say.  One sleep to go. Which brings me to our fast paced world and our now flexible mealtimes.  When I was growing up my goodest mum had dinner on the table religiously at 6pm and we all sat down and ate together (I am still trying to perfect that myself, unsuccessfully I might add).  Eating early seems to be a thing of the past as we are working longer hours and may have children and other family commitments that prevent us from eating our evening meal at a civilised hour.  Some people find that it is uncomfortable to eat close to going to bed and this is turn will disturb sleep.  Others may not find this to be the case. There is also the question of what you are eating prior to sleeping. Snacking on chocolate (unless its your 4 nightly squares of course), biscuits and cake (many of which are high in fat) are not great choices before you lie down for 8 (?) hours of sleep.  The evening is when your body is least active and therefore not burning a lot of fuel. Essentially, you are the best judge of your own body but if you are experiencing disturbed sleep, acid reflux or other problems, then have a look at your eating habits before bed.

On the Ninth Day….

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…nine crocs a weeping…eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Crocodiles are scary.  Not that I socialise with them all the time.  Some time back when I was doing a nomadic around Australia trip, we stopped off at the Adelaide River in the Northern Territory and hopped onto a boat to spot some crocs. Within minutes there were monster truck versions of the prehistoric animal flinging themselves out of the air  to try and jag some meat off the end of a stick.  I regretted taking the tour immediately as it was wrong on so many levels but as there was only one way of getting off I decided to stay. Crocodiles are THE peak predator with endurance like no other.  Because they are the boss of everyone, they can eat whatever they like. But they don’t.  They hunt only what they need, roll them around a few times and then eat when they need to. Yes, they do occasionally get confused and take a human who happens to be in their feeding ground. I think there is a lesson there that we can use over the next few days.  Be selective, gather only what you need, roll it around a few times and savour it, chew slowly and enjoy. And as a special tip, try not to confuse your fellow diners with the sumptuous fare.

On the Eighth Day….

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…eight flies a feasting…seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Aren’t flies just the most fantastic aspect of Australian life?  The perceptive amongst you may detect a hint of sarcasm because in real life they truly do drive you mad. Not only are they are a source of annoyance but they are also a seething mass of germs.  With all the mountains of food that we are preparing and eating in the lead-up to the BIG DAY it is easy to get busy and forget about storing our food correctly. So to avoid an unhappy stomach and poisoning all of your guests in the process, don’t leave food uncovered on the bench or table, put it straight in the fridge. And don’t forget to do the same thing on Christmas Day before doing your whale impression on the carpet, so that Sitting Number 2 is fresh and healthy.

On the Seventh Day….

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…seven possums playing…six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. The instant image that possums bring to mind for me,  is a pair of big bright eyes in the dark in the backyard of my parents house.  My Dad is a prolific market gardener and chook keeper and he often finds that his little ‘friends’ have been busy in the night eating his prize rockmelon or pumpkin flowers.  He has tried ‘Poss Off’, a spray which supposedly deters them but in fact I think it encourages them to come party. The whole seeing in the dark thing reminds me of night vision and carrots.  Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene which is a form of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A is known as the ‘vision vitamin’ because it helps prevent night blindness and aids the conversion of light into messages for the brain.  Vitamin A is found in other foods such as butter, margarine, liver, eggs and full cream dairy products.  Green leafy and yellow vegetables and fruit also contain Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. You never know when you need your night vision goggles on whilst out socialising over summer, so get crunching on a carrot.  I wonder if possums can actually pull the carrots out of the ground….

On the Sixth Day….

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Six sharks a swimming…. five kanagaroos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Rottnest is a gorgeous island 20km off the coast of Western Australia inhabited by quokkas and people seeking rest and relaxation.  Each February thousands of crazy people swim the channel between Cottesloe and Rottnest and on two consecutive years I joined the throng as part of a team of four.  Although I love the beach, swimming long distances is most definitely not my forte but luckily for me I had barely any space in my head to think about the actual swimming thing.   All I thought about for 5-6 hours solid was a shark nibbling at my toes. Western Australia seems to be the favourite hang out joint of sharks at the moment but despite this I know intellectually that the likelihood of me being attacked by a shark at any time is far less than the risk of crashing my car, but my heart seems to win every time. Sharks are multi-faceted because the finned hunters are not only feared by many but can also be the carrier of mercury. For many of us this is not a concern but for those of you out there who are pregnant or considering being pregnant, mercury in large amounts can harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system.  Fish ingest mercury from streams and oceans as they feed and it binds to their tissue proteins (such as muscle).   Food processing, preparation and cooking techniques don’t significantly reduce the amount of mercury in fish. No need to panic but some tips for mums-to-be are: 1.  Avoid fish with a high mercury such as shark, swordfish, barramundi, gem fish, orange roughy (deep sea perch), ling and southern blue fin tuna. 2. Limit other fish, such as tuna steaks, to one serve per week or three 95g cans of tuna per week (smaller tuna contain less mercury). There are no limits on the intake of fresh or tinned salmon and fortunately, most fish in Australia have low mercury levels.

On the Fifth Day….

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…. Five kan-ga-roos… four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. One of the first thoughts that comes to mind is lean red meat.  I know that might seem a bit mean to our international readers but in Australia we do multi-love kangaroo’s and by that I mean we admire their beauty and significance in our history but they are also a food source. Kangaroo (and some other game meat) is a very lean meat and is a great source of protein, iron and zinc.  Iron is important on any day but especially important during the Festive Marathon months of November, December and January.  You really do need plenty of energy whilst partying and socialising and iron assists by helping oxygen sail around your blood stream.  Everyone is after more oxygen aren’t they? Iron is known as Haem (animal sources)  and Non-Haem (vegetable derived) iron and the haem iron is absorbed quite a bit more efficiently.  Liver is top dog in the iron stakes with red meat a much lower second, followed by chicken and fish with much lower amounts again.  Breakfast cereal and legumes are decent sources of non-haem iron but need a friend in the form of  of Vitamin C to assist absorption with fruit and vegetables being just the ticket for the Vitamin C factor. Forget Popeye chugging down the spinach with bulging muscles to get his fill, the iron in spinach is very difficult to absorb due to other compounds in the vegetable (oxalates and phytates) which bind the iron and make it unavailable to you. We can always use the hopping skills of kangaroos to inspire some more exercise too.  There is nothing like a spot of hopscotch.

On the fourth day…

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Four cuddling koalas…three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Ahhh, Caramello Koalas.  They are so cute and tasty. I mean the the chocolate variety not the fluffy ones. Just in case you are wondering how they fare in the world of treats, one regular sized koala contains 99 calories and this includes around 1 teaspoon of fat and just over 2 teaspoons of sugar.  If you get sucked into a fundraising vortex and decide to go the Giant version, this effectively doubles the dose.  Well, maybe a bit more if you get guilted into buying the whole box. So should you eat them?  They are quite delectable and can help you experience a moment of bliss, so they are perfectly designed as an occasional treat. But when I know that one little koala is 1/12th of my total calorie intake, I do what I did today.  Go check them out at the zoo…. zero calories, fat and sugar but still the moment of bliss.

On the third day….

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Three little penguins.. two pink galahs and a kookaburra in a gum tree. We know that penguins love a cold climate but when in Australia may need some assistance with generating some frosty feelings.  Heath McKenzie depicts the three little penguins getting stuck into some icy poles.  I do love icy poles but try not to eat too many as they are usually pretty high in sugar.  Watermelon and Lime Ice Blocks are a refreshing and somewhat healthier (contains fibre and Vitamin C) alternative worth a try. Perfect for summer. Simple too. Watermelon and Lime Ice Blocks 125g caster sugar 125ml water 1 vanilla pod 600ml watermelon juice (blend watermelon) juice of 2 limes 1.  Put sugar, water and vanilla into a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves.  Cool, then chill until really cold.  Stir in watermelon and lime juice. 2.  Pour into 12 icy pole moulds or multiple ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Just remember not to get your tongue stuck on them like the three little penguins.