Almost-vegan mac and cheese

And I’m back after a lovely weekend! We went to church on Saturday and then had a bowling night with the church group – terrorizing the bowling alley with our kids (8 between the lot of us)! Aw nah, they were all pretty good.

And today we had a quiet day at home, which is exactly what I pictured for Mother’s Day. I just wanted to be able to catch up on some things at home – weed my veggie patch, get through my numerous loads of laundry and sort through the kids’ clothes because Jacob’s now into size 3 and Jared is into size 0, so lots of phasing out to do!

Anyway, today (or rather, tomorrow) I’m meant to post a favourite recipe, so I’ll share with you this “almost-vegan mac and cheese” recipe that seems to be a go to – it works well in the veggie-smuggling front and has been well-received by vegan and meat-eating friends alike!

I actually don’t like macaroni and cheese. I remember once when I was little, I had mac and cheese and it made me spew – it was just way too cheesy and rich for me! Thank goodness now I’ve found a recipe that’s not as rich but just really tasty (and actually a bit healthy too!)

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I decided to make this recipe today – partly because I needed pictures, and also because it’s yummy! Included in my prep above is my favourite hot chocolate from Aldi that is awesome on a rainy autumn night such as this! I wish I could show you a picture of Jacob savouring it but unfortunately he wasn’t in the mood tonight. Failed the toddler test tonight, sob!

I got the original recipe HERE and just made a few changes here and there. It probably is fine fully vegan as well, but I just like to sprinkle it with a bit of cheese before baking for a bit of a yummy kick to it!

Ingredients

1 500g packet of macaroni
2 potatoes peeled/diced
1 carrot peeled/diced
1/2 chopped onion
3/4 cup water (preferably from pot of boiled veggies)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder or garlic paste
1 pinch paprika
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese, to top it off (optional)
frozen peas and corn (optional)

Method

  1. Soak the cashews in warm water for 30 minutes before starting the sauce.
  2. Cook macaroni al dente, according to package instructions (usually requires boiling for 6-8 minutes in salted water), drain, and set aside.
  3. Bring some water to boil in a small pot. Place chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion in the boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft enough to blend. Cooking time will vary slightly, based on how small you have chopped your veggies.
  4. When veggies are soft enough to blend, take them out of the water, and place them in your blender. Add ¾ cup of that cooking water to your blender, along with your remaining ingredients except for the cheese, peas and corn.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Or, place macaroni and sauce in a baking dish and mix through with the frozen peas and corn, sprinkle with cheese, and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese browns on top.

If you’re a meat eater like me, you can also add things like chicken, tuna, beef mince, etc. but trust me, it’s awesome just as is!

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Anyway, I feel that I didn’t quite do the last challenge justice as I only posted one pic of the town (suburb) I live in. So here’s another shot:

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That isn’t my house – this is just opposite the reserve close to our home. This picture is pretty close to my heart as this is the day before Jacob was born – I had lost my mucous plug already (sorry if TMI) and was already having light contractions. I took my dog for a walk as I figured I wouldn’t be sure when I’d be next up to walking her. It was a lovely spring day – it had rained in the morning and now a beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky. I felt excited, scared, but a great sense of calm as well. 8am the next morning, my life would be changed forever.

Today, I celebrated Mother’s Day as a mother of two! We actually celebrated last weekend (breakfast in the Barossa) but I still had a luxurious breakfast – chocolate croissants, strawberries and a hot chocolate! Yummy! Did I mention I was on a diet? Oops.

To all the mums I know, and particularly to my mum and mum-in-law, I hope you have had a beautiful Mother’s Day! Thank you for all the ways you have been a blessing in my life! Sending love from my two lovely boys.

cutie

What did you do for Mother’s Day?

Bye Bye Baby Weight(and a blog challenge!)

I have a number of things to post about, but will start with the most recent thing I’ve embarked on – time to lose that baby weight!

So, I’ve decided that it’s about time I stop using breastfeeding as an excuse to stuffing my face and actually start losing some baby weight. No, I am not being hard on myself – I really have been quite indulgent of late and it’s probably time to stop eating so much chocolate!

The pic on the left is when I was 32 weeks pregnant – the one on the right was taken just last weekend and I reckon I haven’t lost much at all (aside from the baby coming out of course!)

This morning was a bit of a bummer – I was all excited about this weight loss thing and told hubby I’d get it done it a flash! I’m very fortunate that my genes are very forgiving and I don’t put on weight that easily. At the rate I eat food, I should be obese by now! Also, I’m not too put off by exercise – it’s more finding the time to do it…

But anyway, so I was being all gung ho and dancing to the Wiggles on TV, and then I leaned to get Jacob and Jared to come and dance with me. A warning to mums – don’t try to lift your baby while you are Doing the Twist. Yup, I did, and I twisted something in my lower back. I have had previous back injuries from cheerleading (back in the olden days haha!) and it feels like a similar strain to then!

So instead of doing all the things I wanted to do, I’ve just been sitting around all day feeling sorry for myself! Okay, not quite – we did end up doing some craft (which I will share another day) but I suppose that my exercise part of my program has to be put on hold for now. Thank goodness my awesome hubby was at home to pick up my slack – I could barely pick up Jared (who is nearing 7kg at just under 10 weeks – argh!!).

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Lying down is a good hobby for now! This is when Jared was just over a week old!

However, I’ve been trying to eat more healthily regardless. The other day, I made up a salad (which is really unlike me as I’m not into salads) and I was so amazed that Jacob ate all of it up! Yes, he ate his salad!!! Fair enough, there was fruit in it, but I was just so amazed that I’ve named it Jacob’s Success Salad. He ate it so quickly that I didn’t get to take a photo! It’s really simple but that’s what I put in it:

Jacob’s Success Salad

Ingredients:
1 tomato, cut into small pieces
1/3 of a cucumber, cut into small pieces
1/2 a carrot, grated
handful of grapes (cut them in half for the littlies)
half an apple, cubed
frozen corn, thawed
lemon juice to sprinkle (optional)

Method:
Mix them all together and serve with a dash of lemon juice (though Jacob has it without – fresh is best). Yummy! 🙂 Other things I could probably put in this are strawberries, mandarin pieces, diced orange and thawed frozen peas.

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And also, before I forget, I was invited to participate in a blog challenge by Tanya from iReview Global on the Bloggers United Australia community! I am looking forward to this and hoping it will keep me committed to blogging (as sometimes it can get a bit difficult with 2 littlies) – I’m really relieved that I only have to blog on odd days, not every day!

This is what I’ll have to follow during my challenge:

blog challenge

If you want to join, you’re most welcome! You can view Tanya’s original post HERE. Please comment here if you decide to join in so I can check out your posts as well!

Over and out – off to cook some healthy dinner with a sore back! XD

DIY Cardboard Door Signs

Finally I’ve had time to do a bit of craft with Jacob – or more like incredibly easy DIY projects because I am not incredibly artistic. In fact, I’m good at creating messy, clunky things – hence why Jacob loves making art with me!

We had a dilemma to solve. Daniel and I were constantly confusing Jacob’s and Jared’s towels, mainly because of the frequency of us changing towels for them. One poos on a towel, the other makes his towel completely muddy, etc. We try to put them in the same spot at all times but it doesn’t always happen. Anyway, I decided that I would make name labels for Jacob and Jared and put them up behind the bathroom door to make this process easier.

Hence I employed the assistance of my crafty boys! One loves painting and the other just loves peeking at what we’re doing (though in truth, he was actually just tipping over sideways as I took the photo)!

We cut out two little pieces of cardboard (from a pizza box actually!) and decided to do some painting. For some silly reason, I only had fabric paint at home and was unwilling to lug both boys to the shops to buy paint, so we stripped down to bare minimum to paint the cardboard. I certainly recommend poster paints that can wash out from clothing because it was an absolute struggle to clean up, especially since Jacob dripped paint on our white tiles (EEK!). Just FYI, Vanish works really well for getting these stains out of tiles! It was just a bit of fun really – Jacob was more keen on painting himself in truth!

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This is the finished product of the painting. Yes, it doesn’t look like much. Did I mention I was good at clunky, messy craft?

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Earlier this year, my husband’s grandpa turned 90 and we made a memory jar for him. I bought rustic-looking lettering stickers to decorate the jar. I checked and luckily, we had enough letters for JACOB and JARED. And voila, the finished product below, which we stuck on the back of the bathroom door with Blu Tack! Now we won’t get their towels mixed up again (unless we put them in the wrong spot, of course), and Jacob is absolutely proud that we’ve actually used his artwork for something functional!

Also, another thing I thought was worth a mention is Jacob’s ingenuity in creating a drink that will become a new go-to in this house. I’m not sure if you noticed in the picture further above (the one with the stickers), but there is a box of these absolutely AMAZING cookies that we buy from Coles that are like 40% chocolate chip! That’s like nearly as much chocolate as it is cookie! They also crumble in the most fluffy of ways and melt in your mouth when dipped in milk!

So, anyway, Jacob had been pretty good at mealtime so we gave him one cookie with his warm milk (which he drinks from a sippy cup). Jacob removes the sippy cup lid, puts the cookie in, replaces the lid and gives it a shake. Then he proceeds to drink it and realises he has made the most amazing cookies milkshake hot chocolate concoction! Delicious! I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of him drinking it, but I did get this shot of him having an ice cream yesterday (and lovin’ it!)

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Hope you all have a scrumptious week ahead!