Alkoomi Adventure Farm

This morning I sat on the step of our van with a steaming, hot mug of tea and watched the sun rise over the rolling hills and scrubby bush in a moment of rare peace.  Streaks of pink broke up the grey early morning light and the birds started calling their good morning song.  The kids were still asleep and just for a minute life seemed to stand still.

The last couple of nights were spent at Alkoomi Adventure Farm.  A farm stay located in Marmor about 40 minutes South East of Rockhampton just off the Bruce Highway.  We got a wonderful, relaxed feeling the minute we drove down the dirt driveway of this stunning property and the warm, friendly family that owns it.

Welcomed onto the farm we were invited to join in on the feeding of their animals (yes more animal feeding!) and the Jazzy Devil was in 7th heaven as he ran from paddock to paddock patting and shoving tiny fistfuls of grass at the two miniature ponies, two horses and 40 odd chickens.  We also got to jump on the back of the quad bike and help feed the cows.  Bubba and I had a great morning riding the horses and we spent the rest of the day chilling out together enjoying the calmness of the scrubby landscape.

In the evening we climbed one of the hills and sat on the large wooden swing and watched the sun go down, understanding that days like this are the reason we embarked on this adventure.

I must admit I did come a little unprepared food wise for our stay here.  I hadn’t remade cupcakes or bread and the fridge really only had bits and pieces in it and we were without power so whipping something up in the thermie wasn’t an option.  I had to put my thinking cap on for this one.  It’s amazing what you can pull together when you have to and I actually managed to feed the family a pretty tasty day’s food (if I do say so myself!).  Breaky was rice porridge with mashed banana for the kids and homemade muesli for Matt and I.  I had some shop bought gf bread with me, so toast with jam was morning tea.  Then lunch I managed to pull this lot together…

Usually I make quirky cooking’s scones in the thermomix but as that wasn’t possible I made these little beauties that tasted somewhere between a scone and damper.  There were only crumbs left!  Don’t worry I will share the recipe with you at the end.  Being a cattle farm, Bec sells steaks that we of course bought and BBQ’d for dinner.  To go with it I had in the fridge: 1/4 butternut pumpkin, the leftover ends of a couple of sweet potatoes, 1/2 a cauliflower, 2 carrots and a capsicum.  What else could I do but roast them!  Tossed in some olive oil and sea salt and thrown into a baking dish they went into the weber directly onto a convection tray as the dish didn’t fit with the trivet in – thankfully as it turns out as having it sit directly on the heat made the veggies beautifully caramelised and delicious!

I have to say that Alkoomi has been one of my favourite stops so far.  We are definitely looking forward to more days like these ones. Until next time, eat well & live happy

xMel

DAMPER/SCONE THINGYS (Sorry I have no better name for these!)

The basic recipe for these came from this Simple and Delicious Gluten Free Scones recipe.  Of course I can’t just follow a recipe I have to tinker with it, so this is what I changed:

Instead of almond meal I used ground sunflower seeds and pepitas (I always have some of this in my fridge in case it comes in handy).

Instead of 60ml cream I used about 110-120ml tinned coconut milk (I’m not very good at measuring sorry, which is probably why these were more like damper than scones!) and 60mls UHT coconut milk (eg Vitasoy) (in place of the milk).  I didn’t bother with rolling I just squashed the dough flat with my hands then cut into 12 small squares with a knife.  Pop them onto a lined tray, touching each other then I baked in the Weber at 200deg (which we get by heating up at full tilt then turning down to about half way) for 15 mins.  Serve with butter or jam (or both!)

Tin Can Bay, Hervey Bay and a Happy Birthday

We have spent the last six nights staying along the Great Sandy Strait at both Tin Can Bay and Hervey Bay.

Tin Can Bay is a sleepy little sea side village near the Cooloola Coast and we spent a couple of lovely lazy days here splashing in the shallow clear bay waters and playing on the playground while Matt and Bubba cast a rod in.  Tin Can Bay is known for a couple of things, the fist being the blue solider crabs that crawl up out of their holes and scurry around the expansive beach as the tide goes way out.  Unfortunately we missed seeing the hundreds of crabs out and about but we did find one little “cabby” who I managed to just save from certain squishing by the Jazzy Devil, curious as always and never nervous about picking anything up!

The second major attraction at Tin Can Bay, and a highlight for us all, was the chance to feed wild, endangered humpback dolphins.  The story goes that many years ago, an injured humpback dolphin came into the harbour and the locals hand fed him back to health.  After healing he continued to come back into the harbour to be fed and play with the humans.  A while after a female dolphin joined him.  She had a calf named Mystique, who still comes in every morning with his small pod.  A centre has now been set up and is run by volunteers and overseen by government.  Tourists are allowed down to see the dolphins and feed them, under strict supervision by the volunteers.  We were lucky enough to experience a very rare event, one of the female dolphins came in with her newborn calf!

Moving on from Tin Can Bay we traveled about and hour and a half to the Fraser Coast and the bigger bayside town, Hervey Bay.  The first Day here was Matt’s B’day and we treated ourselves to a delicious dinner out in celebration.  Wild Lotus was a restaurant down on the esplanade that had most of their menu gluten free and were really accommodating with the kids meals, who often order a modified adult meal as the standard kids menu fare just ‘aint for us!  Tender Hervey Bay scallops, perfectly cooked salt and pepper calamari, mud crab risotto, duck confit legs and gf & df panacotta and pavlova had us licking our lips and rubbing our bellies in satisfaction.

    

Our days were spent here wandering the esplanade, splashing in the crystal clear, sky blue water and playing in the many toddler friendly playgrounds.  We also visited Reefworld, a small aquarium that had a number of tanks filled with coral and brightly coloured reef fish as well as a centre tank with some large ocean fish and a couple of small sharks.  The highlight here though was the outdoor tank with two green sea turtles.  We were able to pat them and feed them lettuce.  It does seem as this trip is a trail of animal feeding at the moment but the kids love it and I must admit I get quite a kick out of it too!

Whilst a birthday definitely calls for a meal out and we’ve enjoyed a few coffees and snacks out, we do try to keep most of our meals home cooked, one as it’s cheaper and two it means full control over ingredients , which even with thorough questioning things slip through when eating out.  Last night we had honey mustard chicken for dinner.  This is my take on the old “chicken tonight”.  Very kid friendly, this meal has the sweetness and saltiness that appeals in some of those jar sauces without the horrible hidden preservatives, flavours and added sugars.  I also manage to pack a few veg in there.  So I thought that we were due for a recipe and this is a great one that the kids and grown ups will both enjoy.

Before I leave you with the recipe though, I thought I’d leave you with some food for thought too… The Fraser Coast is the traditional home of the Butchulla people.  On arriving here during Creation, three lores were passed down to them by Yindingie: What is good for the land comes first; Do not touch or take what does not belong to you; If you have plenty you must share.  Ideals that we would all do well to live by I think.

Until next time, eat well and live happy

xMel

HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN

800g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and chopped into small pieces

1 large zucchini, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced

2 large carrots, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

4 heaped tsp seeded mustard

1 tbsp gin

3 tsp arrowroot

1 cup coconut milk (the UHT type not the can type eg vitasoy unsweetened coconut milk)

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp herbamare (a vegetable salt available from supermarkets)

150g frozen peas, defrosted

2 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

cooked brown rice to serve

Heat olive oil in a heavy based pot.  Add chicken and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add mustard and gin and cook for another 2 minutes.  Place arrowroot in a cup and add enough water to cover, stir to dissolve and add to the chicken.  Stir for a minute or two until it thickens then add the coconut milk and stir.  Add honey, herbamare, zucchini and carrot, stir and bring to a simmer.  Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked and veggies are tender.  Add defrosted peas for the last couple of minutes cooking.  Serve with brown rice

Crikey!

After three great nights catching up with family and staying inside a house we hit the road again headed for a campground west of the Glasshouse Mountains in the hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast.  I picked this camp site, Running Creek Parklands, for it’s vicinity to Australia Zoo and based on good reviews of wiki camps and we were definitely not disappointed.  Lush green, grassy fields surrounded by bushland and a small creek greeted us as we pulled off a small road in Stanmore, QLD.  The friendly owners of this expansive property have recently converted part of it into a campground for travellers like us.  Facilities are basic, there are 3 porta-loos and not much else so being self sufficient is a must.  But that really adds to the charm of this gem of a campsite.

Fire drums are provided and a lady in her ute does the rounds in the afternoon selling bags of firewood.  So despite poor forward planning meaning no firelighters or matches (think the kids scrapbook and a gas stove), soon after setting up we sent the boys off foraging for kindling and had a fire crackling.  JD was in Jazzy Devil heaven with a pile of sticks to rummage through.  Of course no campfire is complete without toasted marshmallows (gluten free ones of course) or gooey bananas and dark chocolate, both of which we devoured over our two night stay.

         

The nights got bitterly cold as we huddled around our fire with mugs of steaming tea and coconut milk hot chocolate and the full moon and crystal clear skies lit up the night as if there were huge street lights above us.  The freezing nights brought crisp, clear mornings then glorious days with clear blue skies and shinning sun.

Our full day here was spent at Australia Zoo, which we were all very excited about visiting.  It certainly didn’t disappoint and this zoo is by far the most interactive I have been to.  There are large enclosures where you can feed and pat the kangaroos, a kids petting zoo with goats, sheep and pigs and many staff wandering the grounds carrying koalas, lizards, owls and snakes or walking dingos or wombats (yes that is right we did see a wombat on a lead!) that can be patted by the kids.  We also went to their famous show and saw the croc jump out of the water.  I must say I was actually more impressed by the bird display first.  Parrots, macaws, black cockies and lorikeets swooped and dived above our heads in a spectacular display of colour and squawking.

As expected the food at Australia Zoo is the same as at most attractions: fried and not food intolerance friendly.  We always take a packed picnic lunch, not only because it is healthier and assured to agree with our food issues but is also much kinder on the back pocket.  So on the menu this day out was an assortment of veggie sticks with hummus, cherry tomatoes and bliss balls packed into a ‘nude food’ lunch box with leftover chicken and lettuce on gf wraps for Matt and I and sandwiches, chicken and fruit in the munchkins lunchboxes.

I managed to snap a pic of the veggie stick lunchbox but the kids had already devoured their lunch before I got the chance so I will show you what theirs looks like another time!  I find the bento style lunch boxes so handy for days out as I can easily pack an assortment of veg, meat, dip and fruit.  Although Bubba was rather disgusted when I came home with the plastic ‘nude food’ box… “Mum, you can’t use that! We don’t have plastic, it’s got yucky chemicals in it!” Clearly I have taught this boy too well!  He is right and normally I would use glass containers at home but the reality of life on the road is weight is a big consideration and sacrifices have to be made – I still won’t heat in plastic but a plastic lunchbox has become a necessity.  We did allow the kids some hot chips as a treat after their lunch as we were told they were gluten free.  We discovered too late that they had chicken salt, with god only knows what additives, on them so we are crossing our fingers there isn’t too big a fall out from that!

We have now left our little piece of bush camping heaven and headed on to the beautiful, sleepy town of Tin Can Bay.  But that story will have to wait for another day.  Until then, eat well & live happy.

xMel

 

Hastings Point

So the last couple of days have tested us.  It poured for 36 hours! We discovered that the van leaks in several places, the door is not really closing properly and that the arial does in fact work if your push the on button – took us two weeks to work that one out!  The kids were tired and cranky and watched way too much iview.  My washing was soaking wet and would not dry courtesy of the terrible spin cycle on our portable washing machine and the rain that just wouldn’t let up.  The Jazzy Devil continues to get more mischevious by the hour… turn your back and he is standing on the bench, escaping out the zip of the annex or climbing the stairs of the neighbours permanent van and knocking on their door.  When we stripped him off outside to get the sand off him and then moved our attention from him for a minute he laid a nice little poo on the turf and played with it!  I also managed to sink waist deep, fully clothed, into the water where the river meets the ocean trying to cross the very strong current.  Thankfully the only casualty of that were some soggy kids hats.  But as they say whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you drink more wine… sorry I mean only makes you stronger!

There were moments of sunshine during our stay though.  Bubba had a ball body boarding in the waves despite the crappy weather (he even duck dived under a wave!) and caught a good sized flatty that he devoured for dinner.  We found gluten and dairy free fruit sorbet, which while I shudder to think of the sugar content, put a massive smile on the kids faces.  It is a very rare treat for them to have something like that so it makes it that bit more special when they do.  We did a day trip to Burleigh Heads, one of our favourite places, played a round of mini golf and pulled in to Marie Anitas – pretty much the sole reason we go back to Burleigh Heads so often!  Marie Anita’s is a gluten free artisan bakery and cafe.  They specialise in amazing gluten free bread, food intolerances and raw, paleo and vegan food.  And it is delicious!!

 

We also managed to squeeze the clothesline into the annex and put the heater on in there so my clothes did eventually dry.  The Gods decided we had suffered enough and thankfully the sun shone this morning meaning we didn’t have to pack up in the rain.  We are currently on route to Toowoomba to stay with my lovely Brother in law and Sister in law and their gorgeous kids who have promised us a fire and a roast dinner (and hopefully the use of their washing machine) so things are definitely looking up.

Amid the chaos of the last 2 days we did still manage to have two yummy dinners.  One night was fresh prawns with pineapple salsa and crunchy ‘taters done on the Webber.

The other night was burgers with pumpkin damper and salad.  Most Aussies don’t eat the recommended 5 serves of veggies a day. Veggies are awesome!  They provide vitamins, minerals, fibre and other phyto-nutrients like anti-oxidants.  High intakes of vegetables are associated with lower risks of diseases such as diabetes, cardio vascular disease and some cancers. Apart from the fact they taste great, this is why I like to sneak veggies into our meals in as many ways as possible.  This dinner is a great example.  Loads of pumpkin in the damper and zucchini grated into the burgers give an extra veg boost. Any way I shall take my nutritionist hat back off now and share with you my pumpkin damper recipe.

Hopefully next time I write will be from somewhere warmer or at least drier!  But in the mean time eat well & live happy

xMel

PUMPKIN DAMPER

300g butternut pumpkin, roughly cut into cubes

3 cups gf self raising flour (I do find the more refined flours get a better result in this case – I use the Woolies ‘free from’ brand)

½ tsp sea salt

1 ½ tsp xanthan gum

75g butter, softened slightly & cut into cubes

¼ cup coconut milk (the UHT type not the tinned)

 

Preheat Weber or oven to 200 deg. Steam or boil the pumpkin until soft then cool and mash with a fork.  Mix together flour, salt and xanthan gum in a bowl.  Using your fingers rub the butter through the flour to get a breadcrumb like consistency.  Add mashed pumpkin and rub though mixture.  Add coconut milk and kneed with your hands until well combined and the dough all comes together.  Turn out onto a floured board and kneed for a minute or two until dough is soft. Flatten into a disk shape approx 18cm diameter and place on a lined tray.  Score the top with a knife.  Bake for 1 hour.  The top should be golden and of you tap the bottom it should sound hollow when cooked.  Serve with butter.

Note: to get the Weber to approx 200 deg we preheat it on medium high then turn in down to medium low once the damper goes in.

 

Travel Days

The last two days have been travel days.  We spent the night last night just out side of Coffs Harbour to break up our drive in a place that called itself a caravan park but was in Bubba’s rather aghast words “this isn’t a caravan park; It’s nature!”  So it would seem we have indeed raised city kids.  There is a lot for these boys to learn as we go along this trip!

Our ‘nature’ camp actually turned out to be really nice and we now know that we can function very well without power or amenities.

Travel days go something along the lines of get up early, have a quick breaky and wash dishes, pack up inside van, pack up outside van, hitch up, realise we are late leaving (again), drive for 2 hours, stop for a packed lunch and let the boys burn off some energy, drive another 1.5 – 2 hours to our destination, then race around setting up again.  They are hectic days to say the least.

Today, we reached Hastings Point on the Tweed Coast (Northern NSW) and as we will stop here for a couple of nights we had to set up all the extra trimmings.  I have now officially dubbed myself the annex master and had a moment this afternoon something akin to Tom Hanks in Castaway where he bellows out “I have made fire” when I achieved setting up the annex all on my own – I did a bloody good job of it too!  We actually managed to get our set up time down to 1 hour 10 minutes today which is quite an achievement seeing as it was taking us in excess of 2.5 hours in the beginning.  Plenty of time for the big boys to throw in a line off the Jetty just outside our caravan site.

Given the busy nature of these days (and the fact there will be a lot of them as we travel a very large distance), making sure we have a quick, easy dinner is essential or we’d be spending a lot of time eating in pubs and restaurants.  I have fallen in love with my thermo pot/ thermal cooker thingy (I have no idea of the actual brand name of mine, but there are quite a few on the market).  The best way to describe it is a slow cooker without power.  There is a stainless steel pot insert that can go on the stove, which then sits inside an insulated covering and uses the residual heat from the food in the pot to cook the meal through.  Our favourite meal in it so far is a kid friendly curry.  All our meals have to be tomato free as it sends the Jazzy Devil even more bonkers so this one is a great option for us.  I prep all the veg and meat ready to go the night before.

Then in the morning when I get up I put it all into the pot on the stove to cook for 20 minutes while we are eating breakfast.

The pot then just slides into the insulated covering and it gets stored in the space under the couch while we travel.  All that is required when we arrive is to cook some brown rice (in the thermie if we have power as it is so easy and JD can’t burn himself on it while I’m not looking), warm the curry a little on the stove and hey presto dinner is on the table.

The weather is starting to warm up now, it was about 23 degrees and sunny today and we are able to sit in the annex this evening without shivering so we are definitely looking forward to a swim and surf tomorrow.  For now though, I will leave you with the recipe for my kid friendly curry and see you again soon.  Until then , eat well & live happy

xMel

KID FRIENDLY CHICKEN CURRY

Approx 700g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and quartered

1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced

1/2 cauliflower, cut into florets

1 brown onion, diced

150g frozen peas

1 x 270ml tin coconut milk

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp “Herbamare” (this is a vegetable salt available from supermarkets in health food section)

olive oil

sea salt

Heat approximately 2 tbsp olive oil in the pot of the thermal cooker (or any heavy based pot at home).  Add onion and chicken and sauté for 4-5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, except peas, plus 1 tin of water (use empty coconut milk tin) and season with sea salt.  Cover with lid, bring to boil then turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place pot into thermal outer section, close the lid and allow to ‘cook’ for approximately 8 hours.  Just before serving place pot back on the stove and add peas.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Serve with brown rice.

If you are making this at home you could just cook on the stove for approximately 30 minutes until veggies are soft.

Port Macquarie

Our stay in Port Macquarie has been a real treat.  We got to see a pod of wild dolphins playing in the waves at lighthouse beach!  Watching these majestic animals glide through the waves has been a highlight for me so far.

We have spent a lovely lazy 4 days here (minus all the catch up of course!) surfing at the local beaches and fishing off the Jetty.  This was Bubba’s first attempt at fishing and he got right into it.  His patience amazed me as this is not generally his forte!  But it paid off as he managed to catch 2 fish!  A bream that was unfortunately too small and had to be thrown back and a yellow fin bream that can be used as bait.  So no fish for tea but good fun all the same.  While Daddy and Bubba fished the Jazzy Devil and I enjoyed the spectacular glowing orange sunsets over the marina, or more to the point, I tried to enjoy the sunset whilst holding a vice like grip on JD to stop him going over the edge into the water, which is quite where he would like to have gone thank you!

  

We also started our mini golf challenge – a quest we have set ourselves to find the best mini golf course in Australia.  Port Macquarie mini golf will be a tough one to beat!

Dinner tonight, our last night here before we move on tomorrow, was roast chook.  We’ve nailed roasting a chicken in the Weber (if I do say so myself).  Crispy, crunchy skin and juicy meat Mmmmm…. with a spud each thrown in with it and some steamed greens on the side we enjoyed our dinner very much!

So you’ve been lucky with two posts tonight, but now it’s bedtime before an early start and pack up tomorrow morning.  Until next time, eat well & live happy.

xMel

Catching Up

So I thought I’d write you a “worts and all” post today… Keeping up with washing, cooking and maintaining the van in some semblance of order is challenging with two munchkins champing at the bit to get out and about.  Washing piled up and we had slowly munched our way through the stockpile of food I made before we left.  The final proverbial straw came when the trolley from Coles puts it’s wheel lock on to stop you crossing the road with it and I had to carry six full bags of shopping, a box of nappies and a squirming JD across the road to the car.  That evening mummy threw a minor hissy fit!

So over the last couple of days in between surfing, fishing and mini golf we have squeezed in some much needed house keeping.  So far this trip is testing my ability to cope with limited forward planning and lowering my hygiene standards.

Multiple loads of washing had to be got through.  Having our little portable washing machine is very handy but the spin cycle doesn’t really cut it and until the weather really warms up, drying clothes is a lengthy task.  In the end we paid for a couple of proper wash loads to catch us up.

I desperately needed to restock our food supply too so I have now made two loaves of bread, two batches of cupcakes, ‘chocolate porridge’ (don’t worry a recipe for this will be in a future post) and more bliss balls which hopefully will at least get us through the next day or two!

The cupcakes are the ones I usually make at home for Bubba’s lunchbox, but camping style they are baked in the Webber. The recipe comes from Quirky Cooking’s Mr I’s Far Too Easy Chocolate Cake To make it gluten free I use 45g chickpea flour, 40g brown rice flour, 25g arrowroot and 20g potato starch in place of the spelt flour (which is not gluten free).  You could also use a premixed gf flour blend but I prefer to use the less refined whole grain flours.  I also add in 3/4 tsp xanthan gum to help the texture.

At home I bake these as cupcakes in the oven at 160-170 deg (depending on your oven) for 25mins.  Here, they baked beautifully in the Webber at around 165 deg for 25 mins on the convection tray and trivet.  We have the Webber with the thermometer on the lid so I can control the temperature.  If you don’t, follow the guide for baking in the instruction book.

The verdict… Delicious!

I am learning slowly that you can actually wear clothes two days in a row and it’s ok to wash dishes in warm water when it requires 10 minutes of boiling on the stove to achieve hot water.  But for now we are all caught up and all is right in our world again…

Eat well & live happy

xMel

Our Nation’s Capital

Autumn days in Canberra are glorious.  Golden light bathes the auburn leaves and gently rolling hills every afternoon and the sun shines warming your bones.  The nights are, however, a completely different story and are quite literally freezing!  We survived them though, snug in our new little home with our tiny ceramic heater pumping and rugged up with both doonas and sleeping bags.

We had 3 nights in Canberra which left us two full days (allowing for arriving, setting up and then packing up again) to explore our capital city.  The boys weren’t overly keen to visit parliament house (and Matt and I have been there before) so we enjoyed our first day wandering the botanic gardens, playing at the seriously cool acorn playground at the Arboretum as well as checking out the bonsai’s and rolling down the Arboretum’s very steep hill.  This, of course, meant Matt had to carry JD back up again while Mum got to enjoy the view from the top!

Our second day saw us paying a visit to the National Dinosaur Museum which I have to say is a must for anyone with kids visiting Canberra.  The boys had a fantastic time exploring the exhibitions upstairs which had fossils, replicas of many different dinosaurs and robotic ones that the Jazzy Devil was determined not to be afraid of! Outside had a garden with a huge number of model dinosaurs the kids could explore around.

Right next door to the dinosaur museum is Cockington Green Gardens (which is where the picture at the beginning of this post was taken) which has miniature British villages in the most immaculately kept gardens.  There are also a number of well known international monuments all in perfect miniature version.  A miniature steam train that we could ride on topped off the fun.  Matt and I had fun pointing out to Bubba which of the places we had been to in the flesh.  The Jazzy Devil caused mayhem as always and kept us on our toes madly trying to keep him out of the gardens and water features.

We also treated ourselves to lunch out at High Road.  A cafe owned by ONA coffee, which apparently if you know anything about coffee, is the brain child of the World Barista Champion who happens to reside in Canberra.  Matt wanted to go for the coffee but we were very pleasantly surprised by the number of gluten free options on their menu.  I am new to this blogging business so I completely forgot to take pictures of our meal before I devoured it (I will do better next time I promise) but mine was a seriously yummy veggie bowl full of brown rice, pickled cabbage, sweet potato, pickled mushies, avo, and various greens. YUM.  I would highly recommend this cafe to anyone heading to Canberra and looking for lunch out.  The staff were great at making sure they catered for our dietary requirements.

One of the best parts of our days in Canberra was that I got to see my very good friend Mimi and meet her beautiful family.  It had been way too long since we’d seen each other and was really lovely to be able to pick up where we left off.

Apart from our lunch out we tried to keep our meals in Canberra simple as we learn our way around our camper trailer and living life on the road.  One of our favourite, quick, tasty meals was bbq chicken thighs that Matty nails on the Webber with bbq’d asparagus and mushies and mashed pumpkin and sweet potato.  I throw the pumpkin and sweet potato into the thermie to steam while Matty takes care of the barbie and dinner is on the table in 25 mins flat.

So I will definitely do better on the photo front next time but for now my G&T is calling me!

Eat well & live happy

xMel

And We Are Off!

After 6 months of planning and one very hectic week packing, cleaning, cooking and tying up loose ends we are officially “on the road”!

To keep the kids happy we are trying to limit our driving days to 3 to 4 hours so our first stopover was in Albury.  A stop for lunch and a play in Benalla then a visit to the Ned Kelly homestead and museum broke up our drive.  It always makes me laugh that so much of our colonial history involves either convicts or bush rangers! Of course because we like to keep things interesting we decided to brave a showground rather than a caravan park for our first night.  Thankfully it paid off really nicely! Huge amount of space, power and really hot showers all for the bargain price of $20 a night. Needless to say we are showground fans now.  A last minute trip to bunnings for an electric fan heater kept us toasty warm and very grateful as the mercury dropped to 1 degree overnight.  It was a little frosty packing up the next morning.

Our second day was another driving day to get us to Canberra (thank god for iPads and portable dvd players – how did parents manage before these were invented?!?). We stopped off to pay a visit to the doggy on the tucker box and eat our own tucker.  On the menu was a selection of various fruit suited to each person’s intolerances, sandwiches for the kiddos (I’ll get to these in another post!) and egg, mayo and salad gf wraps for mum and dad.  Supplemented by a much needed coffee from Olivers.  I have found Olivers very handy for travelling on the highway.  They cater for gluten and dairy free! And have a large selection of quite healthy food choices… hello steamed green beans in chip box.  Scattered along the highway in Victoria and New South Wales, they have come in useful on those less organised car trips.  Plus they have almond milk for my coffee which is always a good thing!

So to celebrate our departure I thought I’d share one of my favourite snack recipes at the moment.  I call these raw carrot cake bliss balls.  Unfortunately the Jazzy Devil calls them poo balls.  I’ll let you decide on the name.  These are gluten free, dairy free, can be tree nut free if you sub the almond meal for ground sunflower seeds and pepitas as I do (note they still have peanuts) and can easily be low FODMAP by swapping the honey for pure maple syrup.  I love them because they taste naughty but are actually quite healthy.  With plenty of protein they make for a super simple, filling snack on the go.

Until next time, eat well and live happy

xMel

RAW CARROT CAKE BLISS BALLS

3/4 cup almond meal (or ground sunflower seeds & pepitas)

3/4 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup good quality crunchy peanut butter

1 lge carrot grated (then chopped smaller with a knife)

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa

2 tbsp honey

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a spoon or your hands.  Roll into balls.  Refrigerate for several hours before eating. (Store in the fridge in an airtight container)

Introducing the VB’s

Hi!  We are the VB’s, a family of 4, about to head off on a half lap of Australia for the next four and a half months.  There’s me (mum), Matty (dad), Mr 7.5yo known as Bubba (thanks to his little brother – sorry mate it’s stuck now) and then there is the Jazzy Devil… a mini tornado in disguise as a one and a half year old.

Matt and I have a long history of overseas off-the-beaten-track type adventures but having a couple of little tackers had put the brakes on that kind of travel.  However once bitten, the travel bug is a hard one to get rid of.  Itchy feet combined with a desire to get away from the daily grind and spend quality time together saw us buying a camper trailer, giving ourselves 6 months to learn what we were doing and pack up and in less than 1 week we are off!

So why The Intolerant Traveller? Because between the four of us we have food intolerances and allergies to gluten, dairy, nuts (except peanuts), tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi fruit, citrus, (actually most fruit except bananas, mangos, pears and limited amounts of apple and grapes) and mint.

As well as being a mum to my gorgeous boys, I am a nutritionist and am passionate about delicious nourishing food that helps us to be the best version of ourselves.  So on top of managing our food intolerances, we eat a fresh, wholefood diet (with the occasional treat thrown in).  I intend for eating on the road to be no different, albeit cooked in a much smaller kitchen!

Our set up for this adventure is a jayco swan camper trailer towed by our trusty (we hope) territory.  Just how we are going to manage in such a small space with the Jazzy Devil we are yet to discover but god help any one who camps near us! My ‘kitchen’ includes a webber q, a gas/electric stove and a grill.  My thermie is coming with us cos I just couldn’t bare to leave her behind.  The bread maker is coming too because I currently make 4 loaves a week and I’m not sure the boys would cope without it.

As you have probably guessed this blog is going to be a mixture of a description of our travels along with food and recipes and a pinch of nutritional info thrown in for good measure.

So strap in and follow along with our highs, lows, successes and disasters with managing our intolerances and eating real food on the road all to the back drop of travelling this amazing country.

See you soon and in the mean time eat well and live happy

x Mel

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