Posts Tagged ‘Food’

That’s it! I’ve had it!! (going gluten-free)

I am kind of chucking a bit of a “tanty” here…at myself!

In 2006, my husband and I went with a group of people over to Fiji on a mission trip.  We visited some very remote islands and like all foreign places, told to be careful with the drinking water…basically don’t consume it at all!  So we didn’t drink the water, but I HAD to brush my teeth in it one night after a massive evening of ministry at the local church.  In my tiredness I had forgotten the golden rule and paid for it by spending the night and early hours of the morning in the most agony I have experienced up to that point in my life.  Incredible stomach cramps that were like many tiny knives striking my lower abdomen, vomiting, diarrhoea….it was so so painful!   I spent the entire night outside in the pitch black stillness under the stars trying to stop myself from crying out from the pain in my gut.  The next day our mission team was flying off the island to head back to the main land. As soon as we landed at Nadi airport my sickness had basically gone……but I was forever after that to experience chronic tummy problems.

Me dancing at the local church on the island. This was the teeth brushing night that would change my gut forever.

The morning after my 'all nighter' still sick and crampy. It was horrible! This Fijian lady made me fresh lemon and sugar concentrate to sip and it really helped before we boarded the mini plane.

The morning after we left my sick island which is really named Koro Island and it is a magical place. Little did I know that Weetbix and white bread would be a thing of the past!

That Fiji moment is the pin-point in time of when I began my struggle with tummy pains, headaches, fuzziness and extreme tiredness.  I didn’t realise this until last year when I had my first miscarriage and blamed myself thinking my body was just retarded and couldn’t hack building a baby.  So, all down on myself I headed to a naturopath thinking I needed something to sort myself out. I knew I had issues with my tummy and I was significantly more tired than usual, but I had been tested for various things through the doctor I was seeing at the time and nothing had come up except that I had chronic hypoglycaemia..later linked to my gut problem. My naturopath did many more tests that were more thorough and it was discovered that I was gluten intolerant, and he even threw in the word ‘coeliac’ although I never ended getting fully tested for that.  He said there was a time that I had picked up a bug and it was playing havoc with my system. Gluten was feeding it and had caused me to become intolerant to the stuff. The original tests I had through my old doctor couldn’t detect the bug as it was too small. My naturopath instructed me on how to eat so that I eliminated all gluten and temporarily dairy as well (dairy is very hard for an already weak digestive system to absorb and break down). Within a few days, I felt incredible!!  My tummy pains went, I woke up in the morning full of life and with a clear head.  Energy was just pouring out of me! I lost so much swelling from my body that weight was just dropping off me. Basically, I had previously been unable to absorb any nutrients from my food as my digestive system was very damaged from the gluten I had been eating and the water I was drinking was not being absorbed either. My body just wasn’t functioning properly.  Chronic Hypoglycemia was caused by a lack of sugars and nutrients also, so it was all linked. One thing we were to discover later was that my miscarriage had nothing to do with this – a bit of a relief back then.

After a couple of months, things got a little fuzzy for me.  I discovered the world of gluten-free products such as bread, pasta, biccies, etc and even though they were gluten-free, they began to give me slight tummy issues anyway. I was finding it hard to eat out, travel, and entertain people…or be entertained at people’s homes.  I know now that this was due to my lack of knowledge in how to live a gluten-free life, and this is where my “tanty” comes into play. I am so mad at myself for letting something so debilitating beat me cause I felt it was too hard.  I now feel back to the gross way I did before and this whole time I knew I shouldn’t be eating gluten.  I have been ignoring it and putting up with the consequences with gritted teeth and clutching my tummy. How could someone be so destructive to their own body when they know what needs to be done….and has experienced the positives before!

An interesting article has been written by the Sydney Morning Herald about how people can be intolerant to gluten and have a negative coeliac test result .  I am also educating myself through other people’s blogs.  I love reading real people’s perspectives on their trials and errors in finding what works for them rather than from a company or scientist pushing their product.

So, I have come to the crossroads and I am choosing to get educated and serious and live life fully and properly again. The excuse of it being too hard is crap and doesn’t fly with me any more.  It is time to grown up and take control.

Wish me luck.

Eating Dirt

Chomping on earth, or buying packets of white clay at the supermarket to chew on? You are just pica participating.

Pica is the scientific term for craving and consuming things that are not food. It doesn’t have to just be dirt (although that is the most popular and more specifically called Geophagy), it can also involve craving sand, ice (in massive quantities), raw starch and cornflour, chalk, newspaper, cigarette ashes, toilet paper, paint chips, used coffee grounds and baby powder. Pregnant women form the largest group of pica-practicing-people, and the second group is of course children. Between 10% and 30% of kids ages of 1 to 6 years have the eating disorder pica, which is characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings (lasting 1 month or longer) to eat nonfood items.

In some countries, if you see a woman chomping on some dirt it is THE tell-tale sign that she is pregnant.  It really depends on where you live and your culture, for example 0.01% of Danish women eat dirt and 56% of Kenyan women eat dirt. Is this because there is something lacking in their diets, or does it depend on whether it is more culturally acceptable in certain areas and people are more likely to admit they chow down on soil?

According to KidsHealth, pica may be cause by the following –

  • nutritional deficiencies, such as iron or zinc, that may trigger specific cravings (however, the nonfood items craved usually don’t supply the minerals lacking in the person’s body)
  • dieting — people who diet may attempt to ease hunger by eating nonfood substances to get a feeling of fullness
  • malnutrition, especially in underdeveloped countries, where people with pica most commonly eat soil or clay
  • cultural factors — in families, religions, or groups in which eating nonfood substances is a learned practice
  • parental neglect, lack of supervision, or food deprivation — often seen in children living in poverty
  • developmental problems, such as mental retardation, autism, other developmental disabilities, or brain abnormalities
  • mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia
  • pregnancy, but it’s been suggested that pica during pregnancy occurs more frequently in women who exhibited similar practices during their childhood or before pregnancy or who have a history of pica in their family

Very interesting.

There’s a Rainbow in My Mouth

This is my final post in my five-part series and it seems so dramatic with the Lord of the Rings soundtrack playing in the background as I type.  I think I am even sitting taller, prouder and typing faster as I edge closer to Mordor with the elves egging me on as I end this journey….bit too corny? Thought so.

Being the last post on my favourite meals, it seems only ‘right’ to be about a salad of some sort (not at all feeling guilty about the lack of  ‘greenery’ in my last four fav food posts – promise).  I love, love, love this salad so much that I sometimes crave it and think about it and spend an entire week eating only it for lunch.

Baby spinach leaves, red cabbage, jalapenos, grated carrot, mushrooms, shallots, Greenseas tuna in olive oil (drained), grated fresh beetroot, red capsicum, black or kalamata olives, a touch of grated cheese, maybe some cold brown rice, and anything else that I fancy.

The whole experience is colourful and packed full of flavoursome awesomeness.

What do you like to add to your salads?

Stringy Pasta Phobia?

I see a bit of an unplanned pattern happening for my favourite food five-post series – Poached Eggs, Potatoes, Pasta…what’s next?! It is totally unintentional. I absolutely, whole heartedly, love pasta.  In particular, the tomato kind.  It will always have a place in my kitchen.  Even when I was a little girl, it was high on my list of yummy din dins. It is so filling and versatile and makes me feel like I have had a good dose of real, hearty food.  It is easy to cook, it is cheap, most people like it, you can add so many things to it,  you make a big batch of it for lunches and other lazy dinners, and everyone usually has some pasta hanging out in their pantry – along with some sauce. Surely?

When my husband and I started dating 12 years ago, he came over for his first ever meal at my parents place. In true Burchill style we had pasta for dinner. I just assumed that my new, hot boyfriend would LOVE pasta just like me….I mean who doesn’t right?  Not until much later, my now-husband tells me that he will never forget that first meal with my folks.  Sitting there at the dinner table, with a meal that he knew he couldn’t wrangle with the common fork/spoon technique most of us are talented with. He never really ate that much pasta growing up, and therefore sat at the table and watched us eat, while trying his best to copy without it going everywhere.

Early days in our relationship

Nowadays when I make pasta, I usually forgo the messiest types (string spaghetti) for my hubby’s comfort, and head more towards the penne, shells or spirals.  Tastes all the same to me, so who cares. Keeps everyone feeling coordinated at the dinner table.  I have had to make the switch from normal pasta to Gluten Free pasta after I discovered how sick gluten can make me.  We both actually prefer the taste of the GF stuff. I came across this recipe some time last year, tore it our of the mag and pasted it into my recipe scrapbook.  I cooked it for the first time tonight and it was perfecto!  Approvals all round.  It was that easy that you only dirty one saucepan and a stirrer as you cook the entire thing in one pot.  This gave me time to sip a glass of red and rock out to some Roxette tunes playing in the background.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince (I like to use lamb mince)
  • 400g pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (I use over 1 cup of mushies cause we love them!)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup  water (I used about 1 cup all up as I put in more pasta)
  • 1 1/2 cup small pasta (I like using the Gluten Free Penne pasta)
  • chopped parsley (from our garden!)
  • grated parmesan to serve (I just used light Tasty cheese)
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on high.  Saute onion for 2-3 minutes until tender.
  2. Add mince. Brown well, breaking up with the back of a spoon as it cooks. Stir in the sauce, mushrooms, wine and water. Bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat. Stir in pasta. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender. Season to taste. Serve immediately topped with parsley and parmesan, if liked.

I know it is a crazy idea to COOK a meal during such hot, sticky, humid weather that we have been having this past week.  We grabbed our pasta, and had a picnic together on the floor of the living room with the air conditioner on full!

In case you want to listen to some Roxette as you cook this meal, here you go –

I am a Total Potato Head.

This is number 3 of my 5-part meal post.

A hot, steamy, fluffy spud is sometimes all I ever ask for (except for a spoon of Nutella of course!).  I think it comes from my Irish father, and his love of potatoes growing up…perhaps ingrained in our genes?

My dad’s taste for potatoes began with his love of the vegetable  kind, but then he took it one step further and he nicknamed his only daughter, his first-born, me – affectionally….spud.  Now you can see the reason for my blog name. It is just not because I am a potato obsessor, but it is a childhood reference to my quite large (fine…massive) head, and to make matters worse, I was bald for quite sometime as a baby, so yes the name did catch on, even to this day.  Although I believe it is more proportionate now….

My gorgeous round head.

I just can't seem to keep my spud-head upright.


So now we have all had a good laugh, I’ll get back to being a bit more serious.  ‘Unearthing the Spud’ represents an uncovering/discovery/understanding of myself (the spud part).  It is also mirroring the way things can sometimes be hidden (the vegetable spud…you would have a hard time hiding the spud-head) for it to be then revealed at the right time.  Just like how God reveals things to us in certain times of our lives.

That explains my blog title, but now let me get back to food.

I love having people over and cooking up a mass of spuds in the oven that have been pricked by a fork, covered in olive oil and a sprinkle of cracked pepper and sea salt.  Chuck in the oven for an hour until cooked through.  Serve on a big platter with bowls and bowls of toppings.  Sour cream is a MUST, bacon/ham, shallots, red capsicum, mushrooms, mince, cheese, guacamole, salsa, tomato, baby spinach, beans, etc. It is a really laid-back, social way to eat. Once we had a visitor from Japan.  A teacher who wanted to spend a night in a real Aussie home.  We served her baked spuds and she had never tried them before.  The sour cream freaked her out a little, but she ended up loving it.  We even chucked in some kangaroo to the choices of other toppings, which she devoured.  It is always a compliment to see a tiny, skinny person woof down food that you make!

Making Me Nutty!

Post number two of my five-part series on my favourite meals.

I guess this meal should have been number one on my list as I always feel like eating it, I think it would taste good with anything (except for maybe tuna…then again, you never know!), and many memories come flooding back to me when I take a bite.  It is none other than the heavenly taste bud splurge of Nutella.  I, like many others, can eat this stuff by the spoonful but seeing as I am writing about ‘meals’ I better put something else with it – bread, pancakes, bananas, melted in a fondue, ice cream, scrolls, strawberries, and the list goes on.  Actually, I think Nutella deserves to be a meal on its own, don’t you?

I can taste it now 🙂

My earliest memory of Nutella dates back to when my family lived in Bundeena, which is located in the heart of the Royal National Park at the south of Sydney.  My Grandad used to live with us downstairs in a granny flat and each afternoon after school, my little brother and I would toddle down to see Grandad and get a sandwich of Nutella.  I referred to this as one of my favourite traditions growing up on a previous post – Roasts & Reindeer Droppings.  We would sit at the bench and munch into the soft chocolatey goodness and recap on our day to Grandad.

Now days we try to avoid buying Nutella as it really doesn’t last long. It gets to the point where one of us will go to have a helping and notice the jar has magically disappeared, along with a few spoons.

I totally understand dude.

Eggs, Toast & One Kinda Sauce

The first entry of a five-part post marathon on my favourite meals. Enjoy!

Our breakfast this morning.

Breakfast is by far my favourite meal to eat out.  There is just something unbearably delicious about eating a breakfast at a cafe on an empty stomach…the first meal of the day.  I also enjoy seeing the variety each cafe has in addition to the base breakfasts such as ‘Bacon & Eggs’, ‘Fruit & Muesli’, and the best of all ‘Eggs Benedict’.  You never know exactly what it is going to look like and what little extras they have added to the norm.  Sometimes you have potato fritters instead of toast, fried haloumi, smoked salmon instead of bacon or ham.  You also get a great idea of how to mix flavours.  A favourite mix would have to be at the Nanna McGinn’s Cafe in Kenilworth where they serve french toast, cooked banana and bacon drizzled with maple syrup.  What an intoxicating meal for the adventurous and definitely an explosion of flavours…well worth the risk of bacon and banana in the same meal.

Eggs Bene would be right up on my list of favourite meals, but it really depends on where you go.

Delicious Eggs Benedict Sauce!

Sometimes you can end up with the weirdest Hollandaise Sauce flavours…and some are hard to stomach.  When visiting my sister-in-law up in Normanton (Far North Queensland) a few years ago she introduced us, and converted me, to the one of the yummiest Eggs Benedict sauces for a quick home fix, and I haven’t looked back since.  Her favourite is the Masterfoods Hollandaise Sauce.  You just put the packet into the microwave for 40 seconds and you have yummy sauce.   Every time we get together with my husband’s family for Christmas or a visit, we usually end up with Eggs Benedict along with this sauce for breakfast.  I love my Eggs Bene with smoked salmon, but for this morning I just used plain old ham and it was still scrumptous. When we make this at home, we usually use the gluten-free bread by Country Life Bakery.  The best one I have ever tasted and I usually use the low G.I one (it has blue on the packet). You can just buy this in the normal bread section of the supermarket (Coles, Woolworths, IGA, etc). Really nice texture and flavour.

Tip: I had no end of trouble trying to poach the eggs without a poacher so my brother-in-law gave me some very handy tips.  This way works for me – boil water in a medium saucepan and add white vinegar (the vinegar actually gives the egg a really nice flavour).  Wait until the water has heated and there are some small bubbles appearing at the bottom of the saucepan (in the lead up to the water boiling).  Crack the egg into the water and let it sit for a few seconds until the base part of the egg has turned white.  You can either leave it like this as the small bubbles will slightly move the egg into a nice bundle, or you can get a spoon or ladle and gently lift the egg around to bunch it up a bit.  I usually leave the egg in the water until I think it is ready.  All the whites of the egg should not be clear, but…well…white! Make sure your water doesn’t reach boiling point as the egg may break apart.  When finished, scoop out the egg onto a paper towel to let it dry. Done!