ABOUT TO BOARD THE “I QUIT SUGAR” TRAIN FOR THE 8-WEEK PROGRAM (plus weekly menu planner template for FREE downloading!)

Before I start the official IQS 8-week program on June 5, I thought I’d share a meal plan that I came up with, doing IQS solo-style a few weeks ago, using I Quit Sugar For Life as a guide-book, along with inspiration from Sarah Wilson’s blog, Instagram account and the IQS website.

MissMarzipan_IQS_weekly_meal_planner

If you take a look at the meal plan above, you’ll notice a couple of things instantly. Namely, the lacto-ovo vegetarian theme (this was my choice, but the IQS program caters to meat eaters and can also be adapted for vegans!) and the fact that I don’t mind eating the same meals a couple of days in a row ;).

As I went through I Quit Sugar For Life, exploring more recipes, what I ended up making and eating each week became a little more varied, but I definitely had my favourite eats and treats (see tip at the end of this post). I added a couple of recipes from blogs and other books that were not the work of Sarah Wilson or her team, but were in line with the IQS philosophy. It helped greatly to create a structured meal plan with page reference numbers and a shopping list as, when cooking every meal from scratch, being organised is the best way to keep things manageable (and sustainable, long-term).

And of course, being organised when it comes to cooking saves valuable time no matter how you are eating or whether or not you follow a program. So for anyone needing a printable menu plan template, this one has spaces for writing not only the dish name, but also key ingredients and page numbers/website sources. There is an added row for including extra things (beyond the standard 3 meals per day). These could include stock-ups (like purées to be made in advance and frozen), desserts, snacks, etc. Ingredients can then be tallied up and added to the shopping list at the bottom of the page.

I am not sure if others will find this menu planner as user-friendly as I do, but when I searched for something similar myself, I couldn’t find it. So I created this template. And I’ll share it here for FREE downloading :).

FREE WEEKLY MENU PLANNER TEMPLATE DOWNLOAD

MissMarzipan_weekly_meal_planner_template-01

When it comes to the 8-week program, I am looking forward to having some clear direction, new inspiration and the opportunity to “eat clean” alongside others who are as curious/motivated/inspired as I am. I ate sugar-free for a few weeks (and still eat IQS-friendly foods 80%-90% of the time now), and really enjoyed it. I noticed subtle yet marked improvements in many aspects of my health and wellbeing and I look forward to getting stuck back into IQS with renewed vigour. My Stockholm bestie will be joining me on this journey too, and having someone to swap notes with (and have sugar-free afternoon teas with) will no doubt be part of the fun.

Unfortunately I will be away from home as the program starts and will be unable to follow the first 3 days of as I had hoped. The other big disadvantage we have, being in Scandinavia, is that the program is based around seasonal produce… seasonal in Australia! Ruh-roh! Luckily we are rather crafty and fairly good at making culinary substitutions, so will do so as necessary ;).

There are two versions of the IQS 8-week program and I have signed up for the vegetarian one. The cost (if paying upfront for the whole 8 weeks) is $150 AUD. From the IQS website:

What you receive.

A fantastic weekly meal plan with simple, delicious and filling recipes – including a vegetarian option.
Weekly motivational video and two live webinars with Sarah.
Support from a team of doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, counsellors, health coaches, personal trainers and more.
Daily advice, tips and tricks to help you quit the white stuff for good.
Weekly payment option.

June 3 is the last day to sign up, so if you’re interested, get onboard NOW! Toot, toot!

<3 MM xx

PS If you want a yummy breakfast tip, try Sarah’s Coco-Nutty Granola. It’s apparently the most popular recipe from Sarah’s first book. I make a new batch every week now, had it for breakfast myself just this morning and absolutely vouch for its deliciousness. Vegan, healthy, clean-eating yumminess in a bowl!

 FOR MORE IQS-RELATED INSPIRATION:

I QUIT SUGAR TOO (an experiment in going fructose-free and eating whole)
DIY CHOCOLATE BUNNY BUTTON DECORATIONS, IQS-STYLE (and my 15 seconds of Instafame)
SUGAR-FREE EASTER TREATS & BEETROOT RED VELVET CUPCAKES (for an IQS-inspired celebration)

OUR FOOD REVOLUTION WEEK! (cooking with Poh, Jamie Oliver, Maximillian Lundin, friends & kids… phew!)

Hi lovelies! Hope you all had a fabulously foodie Food Revolution Day (or a good regular Friday the 16th of May, if you didn’t take part ;) ). I “cheated” a little again this year and celebrated FRD in numerous ways over multiple days (not that Jamie would mind, I am sure).

My week began in a cooking frenzy when a dear friend, The Green Brunette, popped around for a Poh’s Kitchen-inspired afternoon. We had to juggle fixing the remaining mis en place (I had done as much as possible in advance), cooking Poh’s divine Chunky Cream of Mushroom soup, making her delicious Parmesan Croutons, baking her version of Potatoes au Gratin, settling/feeding Baby Cupcake, eating lunch, picking L up from nursery school, organising snack time for the kids, remembering to take some pics and hastily snapping away for late posting on Instagram (lol) AND baking Poh’s perfect Chewy Choc-Chip Cookies. We had an approximate time frame of around 2.5 hours… for all of this :P. A potentially hectic/stressful afternoon was made thoroughly enjoyable because, simply, we all love food, chatting, playing and experimenting! And of course, we had wonderful guidance and inspiration direct from Poh’s Kitchen* ;).

On FDR itself, cooking with Jamie Oliver was on the agenda. I happened to be close to my computer as Jamie, DJ BBQ, Cupcake Jemma and a great gathering of school kids and teachers went live to air on Food Tube for Jamie’s live cooking lesson. When little L came home from a visit at his grandparent’s house, we watched the video again and cooked together. It was honestly one of the loveliest kitchen experiences we’ve had together. L, who is 3 years-old, was no doubt excited to see the big kids cooking and to have Jamie talking “directly” to him (he said “Jamie Oliber loves me.” Bless! <3 ).

At one point, after assembling our first wrap, L started running in circles around the kitchen singing “Rainbow salad wrap! Rainbow salad wrap!” :D. He loved using a grater for the first time (with supervision, of course!), shaking the dressing jar, pouring the dressing, helping with wrap assembly and eating the finished product. Actually, he couldn’t get enough of those wraps. I assumed we’d have lots of salad and tortilla breads leftover, with only 2 adults eating the food plus a toddler hanging around who’d already eaten dinner with his grandparents. Not so. After all three of us got stuck in, there was enough remaining to make only one wrap the next day. I must admit, I was a little sceptical about how tasty these wraps would be, but they were clearly a success!

GET THE RAINBOW SALAD WRAP RECIPE HERE

Oh, and for those of you who’ve wondered if Jamie managed to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ attempt for the ‘Most participants in a cookery lesson in 24 hours (multiple venues)’, it was done! Congrats to Jamie, his team and all the participants worldwide!

WATCH JAMIE’S RAINBOW SALAD WRAP COOKING LESSON HERE

I had barely scrubbed down my own kitchen and stacked my dishwasher at the end of FRD when, the very next day, I headed off to the professional kitchen at Restaurang Akademien to attend Maximillian Lundin’s vegetarian (vegan) cooking workshop. After 4 hours of broken sleep (ugh), I was not in the best form to tackle a full day of cooking/knowledge-absorbing (let alone in Swedish), but the day was exciting, my partner was thankfully super-lovely, Maximillian was hugely inspiring, his team were encouraging and the food itself was absolutely delicious. Maximillian’s food philosophy is much like my own and the theoretical side of what he shared with us resonated with me very much. He has been at the pre-“hipster foodie” forefront of the contemporary organic food movement in Sweden and now aims to promote veganism amongst chefs, restauranteurs and the general public here. No mean feat, given Sweden’s meaty history! But if any man’s up to the task, it’s Maximillian Lundin. Even his name is impressive.

There were some real high points of the day… and the menu.

Lunch was delicious and featured some seldom-seen-in-Stockholm-but-wonderful flavour combinations (orange and corn, for example). It was lovely to chat casually over a glass of chilled Jus de Pomme Pétillant with Maximillian and two of the ladies who shared my kitchen work station. When the conversation turned towards South Australia, my heart sang. The beyond-favourable impression my home state has made upon these Swedish foodies was wonderful to hear about.

Back in the kitchen, my cooking partner encouraging/trusting me to hastily create a vinaigrette based around whole spices- for the first time- was an enlightening experience. I am starting to recognise certain strengths I have in the kitchen, in conjunction with the areas that require improvement. An intuitive understanding of flavour combinations is something I have working for me. My love of pottering around the kitchen, taking my time reading and rereading recipes, chatting, etc., would make me, in my “raw state”, a potentially disastrous addition to a commercial kitchen environment!

I was thrilled to get a copy of the Årstiderna cook book that Maximillian collaborated on and proud that we were some of Årstiderna‘s very first customers, way back when their business began… and before trendy “Eko Stockholm” was in full swing. We were encouraged to take food home with us which I, of course, did … and I loved the fact that Baby Cupcake could eat any of the dishes without me worrying about her getting ill (she seems to be dairy protein intolerant, although test results have been inconclusive thus far).

The raw cake was a particular hit with the little ones (ok, the big ones too). I now have my own swanky Restaurang Akademien apron and diploma… and a name badge which, I realised upon returning home, had been upside-down all day. Ugh. The perils of chronic sleep-deprivation**, people. I need to take my own advice :P

Last but not least, my Sunday morning began with a quick baking session to prepare cookies for a friend who offered me technical support via a comment on a desperate Facebook status update (back when my computer was dying on me). I promised that, when he visited Sweden again, I’d bake something to thank him for his assistance.

He flew in from LA on Sunday morning.
He was eating my cookies that afternoon.
Now, you can’t say Miss Marzipan’s not a woman of her word ;)

Hoping you all had a fabulous weekend. And if you celebrated FRD 2014, please drop me a line to let me know what you got up to! :) xx

*Poh’s new book, Same Same But Different, has just been released in Australia! It looks amazing and I plan to have a copy smuggled into Sweden for me ;)

**Perhaps “chronic” is an exaggeration, but I have not had 8 consecutive hours of sleep (the amount I used to rely upon daily!) since pregnancy insomnia kicked in around July 2010 when I was pregnant with L. Despite Baby Cupcake currently weaning herself, my body seems to still brace itself for nursing on demand throughout the night, and I wake repeatedly as a result. Oh well, this too shall pass…

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO YOU (and a timely, “motherly” reminder to myself!)

Want an easy way to look and feel better that’s fad-free, cost-free, completely natural and almost as easy as breathing?

It’s simple. Drink more water and get more sleep!

I created this little graphic to remind myself that my sometimes-overlooked-yet-most-obvious basic needs should never be last on my list of priorities, no matter how “busy” I am.

MissMarzipan_drink_water

Happy Mother’s Day to all celebrating. I hope your families are spoiling you, or at least showering you with the love you deserve every single day! And I hope you got to sleep in ;)

<3 MM xx

FOOD REVOLUTION DAY 2014 (get onboard with Jamie Oliver & a global community of foodies of all ages on May 16!)

There’s just one week to go until Food Revolution Day is upon us again.

Haven’t heard of it before? You’re welcome to check out my post about what we got up to for FRD 2013. For FDR info in a nutshell, read on. Or you can get all the information you possibly need, plus tips, links, freebies and recipes directly from foodrevolutionday.com :)

WHAT IS FOOD REVOLUTION DAY?

Food Revolution Day is a global day of action to keep cooking skills alive.
It’s about celebrating the importance of cooking good food from scratch and raising awareness of how it impacts our health and happiness – we believe that everyone should know about food and it starts with getting kids food smart, making cooking fun and inspiring a love of food that will last a lifetime. Food Revolution Day is a campaign by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in the UK and USA, and The Good Foundation in Australia. To date, 74 countries have taken part and over 900 ambassadors are championing our cause worldwide.

Food Revolution Day is open to anybody, whether you’re a school, organisation or individual.
Many activities are organised by supporters in their local area or voluntary Food Revolution ambassadors who champion food knowledge and cooking skills in their communities. To get involved, you can either organise your own activity, get in touch with your nearest ambassador to see what they’re doing, or apply to become an ambassador here.

Why have a day of action?
Learning about food and how to cook from scratch is one of the most valuable skills a child can ever learn.
This knowledge used to be passed down from generation to generation, but now, with an overreliance on unhealthy convenience foods, millions of people lack the confidence and even the most basic skills to cook for themselves and their families. By educating children about food in a fun and engaging way, we’re equipping them and future generations with the skills they need to live healthier lives.

 

MissMarzipan_Jamie_Oliver_FRD_2014

WHAT’S ON MY FDR AGENDA THIS YEAR?

Something incredibly simple, that I have dubbed (in my head!) “Cook from a Book!”. Like many people, I suppose, I covet cookbooks. I feel inspired and comforted when flicking through their pages. They truly are, for me, as picture books are to my 3 year-old son. I feel moved by the stories the images tell. They are my ultimate coffee table books and one of my “happy places” to visit.

 

MissMarzipan_Jamie_Oliver_FRD_cookbooks

 

The downside of having a healthy, ever-expanding collection of recipe books? Feeling guilty that a lack of time prevents me giving them the usage and attention they deserve. Mid-week particularly, when cooking/planning meals, I’ll tend to fall back on old favourites and staples… or quickly look up a recipe online, modifying it to suit my tastes/the contents of my pantry.

So, keeping it simple, FRD 2014 will see me choosing a cookbook from my shelf and trying at least 3 new recipes. And because my son adores Jamie Oliver* and loves to help me cook (even though that sometimes involves nothing more than whisking air around in an empty mixing bowl!), we will be attempting to join in with Jamie’s live cooking lesson.

To celebrate this year’s Food Revolution Day, Jamie will be leading the biggest-ever live cooking lesson and he wants you to join in, wherever you are in the world. You’ll learn to make his tasty, nutritious rainbow salad wrap, especially chosen with kids in mind, so that everyone can get involved. We’ve also created a lesson plan to give you a bit of assistance in preparing for Jamie’s demonstration.

To help us achieve our goal, we’ve teamed up the educational group, TES who’ll be streaming Jamie’s live cooking lesson to schools across the world. We want to get one million kids cooking on the big day and, with your help, we can make this happen! Wherever you are in the world, tune in live or watch his pre-recorded video on 16 May – you have no excuse to miss it!

And how cool is this? Taking part in Jamie’s live cooking lesson means becoming part of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ attempt for the “most participants in a cookery lesson in 24 hours (multiple venues)”. What kid wouldn’t think that fact in itself was pretty awesome?

Last year I collected contributions on behalf of some of my foodie friends here in Stockholm, and collectively we made a donation to support The Good Foundation in Australia.

This year, via Prizeo, contributors to the cause have the opportunity to win a cooking lesson with Jamie himself and a VIP restaurant experience in London! You’d be nutty not to enter ;)

HOW AMAZING DOES THIS SOUND?

Hi guys, Jamie here!

For the second year running, we’ve got an incredible prize up for grabs: you and a friend will come to London, where I’ll give you a cooking lesson and teach you a few tips and tricks to become a kitchen ninja.

As part of the prize, we’ll fly you to London, put you up in the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, give you £1000 spending money and I’ll make sure you get a signed copy of my latest cookbook, Save with Jamie, too.

There are also loads more bonus prizes, too…

… Big love,

Jamie O xx

ENTER THE COMPETITION BY MAKING A DONATION HERE…

 

Food Revolution Day is on May 16, people! Mark it in your calendar if you haven’t already done so :)

Drop me a line if you’re participating too… would love to hear what you are up to for FDR 2014!
<3 MM xx

*or, as he calls him, “Jamie Oliber”

FRD on Instagram
foodrevolutionday.com
Win a cooking lesson with Jamie Oliver + VIP restaurant experience!

DREAM & DO (it’s that simple!)

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve recently found myself pondering the manifestation of dreams. Last weekend I decided I wanted to break down the formula for the “recipe for happiness and success” in the simplest of ways, to create a kind of mantra for myself… some words to live by, if you will. I then created this little graphic to embed those words/that idea visually my mind, before taking it a step further and actually putting it into practice.

MissMarzipan_yes_and_no

 

A day later, after literally waking up from a dream about a possible direction my life could take (towards something that moves and excites me), I jumped online to find out what I could do to make this dream a reality.

Doors opened immediately.

This “process” never ceases to amaze me!

I’m a little sad that Deepak Chopra’s current Meditation Experience, Finding Your Flow, will be ending in a few days, but hopefully I will be able to maintain a consistent meditation practice moving forward, even if it involves just 10 minutes per day of stillness.

If it is true that the answers we seek are within us, surely we must be quiet if we wish to hear them…

MM xx

 

If interested in my reflections on Deepak Chopra’s previous 21-Day Meditation Challenges, see links below:

 

 

SUGAR-FREE EASTER TREATS & BEETROOT RED VELVET CUPCAKES (for an IQS-inspired celebration)

It seems as though I am always in the midst of some kind of health-kick around the approach of Easter! Maybe it’s the masochist in me, but I’d prefer to think it’s simply a matter of loving the challenge of creative problem solving. Baking is a joy to me, especially on festive occasions. So, not to be deterred by my current sugar-free eating habits, I made use of some of Sarah Wilson‘s recipes and gave them an Easter-y twist.

I started by making Easter eggs from Raw Breakfast Ball mix (recipe found in I Quit Sugar For Life)… like so…

MissMarzipan_protein_ball_easter_eggs

SPECKLED MINI PEANUTTY PROTEIN EASTER EGGS

WHAT YOU NEED

1 square dark chocolate (86%), melted
1 quantity/batch of your favourite sugar-free protein ball mix (of a light colour, preferably)
A toothpick

DIRECTIONS

  1. Instead of rolling walnut-sized protein balls, take a slightly smaller amount and form into little egg shapes.
  2. Dip the end of the toothpick into the melted chocolate and dab tiny dots of chocolate randomly on each egg.
  3. Allow to set in refrigerator.
  4. Eat them as they are, serve them in coconut nests (see below) or use as cake decorations.

 

MissMarzipan_proteinball_Easter_eggs_coconut_nests3

COCONUT NESTS

I came across a recipe for a large coconut “nest” cake decoration in I Quit Sugar For Life and was struck by an idea to make mini-nests* with which to decorate cupcakes.

I didn’t modify the recipe itself, only the directions. So I won’t post it here. But honestly, any coconut macaroon recipe should work if followed along with the directions below. If you want to create sugar-free coconut nests you could try this old recipe I posted years ago, maybe, but use only the egg whites (whisking them before adding the other ingredients) and omit the sugar, using 80ml rice malt syrup instead! And do let me know if it works or not! I’d normally experiment myself, but I’m a little pressed for time right now. ;)
Alternatively you could buy Sarah Wilson’s book!

WHAT YOU NEED

1 batch of coconut quinoa nest mix (page 138, I Quit Sugar For Life) or 1 batch of coconut macaroon mix
A mini pie tin (of the sort you would use for making mince pies)
A spoon (to help mold the nests)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease the pie tin.
  2. Spoon heaped tablespoons of coconut mixture into the little pie forms and press down with your fingers/the back of a spoon. This will help form a nest-like shape.
  3. Bake nests in the oven for around 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before carefully removing from tin.
  4. Once cool, fill the nests with what you like (the Speckled Mini Peanutty Protein Easter Eggs above are a good festive option!).

MissMarzipan_DIY_coconut_nests

*They are best eaten on the day they are made, however I have also frozen some in an airtight container and plan to serve them filled with strawberries and coconut cream at a later date (I might try defrosting and crisping them up in the oven for a few minutes first).

 

… And I wasn’t about to leave my Easter baking binge at that, so I took it a step further and made…

MissMarzipan_beetroot_redvelvet_Easter_cupcakes1

 

BEETROOT RED VELVET CUPCAKES
Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

2 large raw beetroots, grated
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp of cinnamon
A pinch of  salt
375 ml almond meal/flour
80 ml raw cacao powder
60 ml macadamia oil (or coconut oil)
60 ml rice malt syrup
1 tsp of baking powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C then line a cupcake tray with 12 cupcake cases.
  2. Blend all ingredients until cake batter is smooth.
  3. Spoon batter into cupcake cases and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool cupcakes on wire rack.
  4. Frost cupcakes with whipped cream with a little stevia (I used 1/2 a teaspoon of stevia to 500 ml of whipped cream) or whipped coconut cream (1 tin) with 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla powder added.
  5. Decorate if desired. For an Easter-fied version of these cupcakes, try making Coconut Nests and  Speckled Mini Protein Easter Eggs to sit atop your cupcakes.

MissMarzipan_beetroot_redvelvet_egg_nest_cupcake3

 

*I can only assume that it is ok to post this closely modified version of Sarah’s recipe as Sarah’s Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcake video (from The Morning Show) is publicly available and I have found this recipe online elsewhere. I do, however, urge you to check out her books, in particular I Quit Sugar- The Chocolate Cookbook, in which the original recipe appears!

 

I was once again extremely flattered when Sarah Wilson chose my little Easter cupcake creations amongst those she mentioned in her IQS Easter treats post on Instagram! It’s lovely enough to receive a favourable response from my family when I make something for them, but receiving a virtual nod of approval from the creator of the original recipes herself is the icing on the proverbial sugar-free cake!

MM xx

MissMarzipan_Sarah_Wilson_IQS_regram

 

THE COURAGE TO SAY YES (or no)

Why are some of the simplest words the hardest to vocalise? Today I have been pondering the power of yes and no, making a pledge to myself that I will make use of them, as appropriate and as my heart & instincts lead me. I have recently been doing some intense “heart searching”, asking for signs and being open to hearing the answers. As is customary when I go through a process such as this, coincidences* appear at every turn, things begin to flow** and I feel inspired.

It’s a touch scary too!

And so, being a “visual person”, I created this simple quote graphic to inspire me, based upon the very thoughts I have been mulling over all day.

I am excited at the prospect of being able to share with you the fruits of my saying yes (and no) over the course of the next few months. I anticipate that the next year will see huge and wonderful changes happening in my life.

In the meantime, I thank you for the continued support and inspiration you all share with me by being here, sharing your stories and by following your own hearts and paths… MM xx

MissMarzipan_yes_and_no

 

*You wouldn’t believe them if I listed them all, but one of many is the fact that I entered into this period of deep self-reflection and heart searching just as Deepak Chopra’s new meditation experience began. Each day, I find the reflections/meditations beyond spookily appropriate, exactly mirroring my own personal reflections of the day.

**The experience (aptly entitled Finding Your Flow!) has now been running for a week, but it is not too late to register here for FREE!

From The Chopra Centre site:

An inner guide for transforming your life!
Did you know that there is a flow of powerful energy that permeates every aspect of our reality? When aligned with this flow, we’re tapped into the pure, unlimited source of all peace, possibility and potential. Actualize your vision for authentic wellbeing with us on 4.14.14, when we will embark on a 3-week journey toward true transformation. We’ll reveal the secrets to finding your flow and teach you how to leverage its mighty power to effortlessly carry you like a river current to all of the joy, love and fulfillment you desire.

If interested in my reflections on Deepak Chopra’s previous 21-Day Meditation Challenges, see links below:

 

 

DIY CHOCOLATE BUNNY BUTTON DECORATIONS, IQS-STYLE (and my 15 seconds of Instafame)

Hi all! Just a quick post to share a quick idea as Easter 2014 commences!
As you may be aware, I am in the midst of a sugar detox using Sarah Wilson‘s book I Quit Sugar For Life as inspiration. On a mission to Easter-fy one of the IQS dessert recipes (the gorgeous Choc Mint Slice), I took a look at my pantry cupboard and was struck by a very simple idea.

And this is it…

MissMarzipan_IQS_chocmint_slice_easter_bunnies1

CHOCOLATE BUNNY BUTTONS, IQS-STYLE

INGREDIENTS

A couple of squares of melted (86%) chocolate*, or 20g (which contains only 2.6g of sugar)
Some organic almond meal
A few raw, organic cocoa nibs
Some organic toasted slivered almonds

DIRECTIONS

  1. On a piece of baking paper, draw circles of the same size (mine were approximately 2cm in diameter) spaced a couple of centimetres apart with a marker pen.
  2. Flip the paper over, place on a flat tray/plate and, using a teaspoon, dab some chocolate in each of the circles to form a disc (not too thin, not too thick).
  3. Stick two slivered almonds of similar size and shape (it helps to have pairs ready beforehand) at the tops of each chocolate circle. These will be your bunny’s ears.
  4. Sprinkle all chocolate discs liberally with almond meal. You may need to pat it down very gently. This will create your bunny’s furry face.
  5. Take small coco nibs (or cut larger ones in half with a small kitchen knife) and stick somewhere near the middle of each disc to form a nose.
  6. With a toothpick, dab tiny dots of melted chocolate on either side of the nose to create your bunny’s eyes.
  7. Transfer your tray/plate to the fridge to let your bunnies cool and set. This won’t take long.
  8. When you’re ready to decorate your cakes/cupcakes/cookies/slices with bunny buttons, they should be very easy to remove from the baking paper. Adhere them by dabbing a small amount of melted chocolate where you want to attach your bunny and then gently press it down.

 

*I am sure vegan chocolate could work too!

MissMarzipan_DIY_choc_bunny_buttons

Bunny button production line (this bit is messy, but I promise you they clean up alright!)

 

So what’s the “Instafame” bizzo I was referring to in the title of this post? Well, it’s an unexpected spin-off from having posted a picture of my “Easter pimped” Choc Mint Slices via Instagram that saw Sarah Wilson herself (!!!) seemingly liking my idea, reposting* my image via her Instagram profile and giving me a lovely shout-out… which, in turn, generated a very generous response from her followers (of which there are over 60, 000!). A little while later, CleanCheatsOfficial picked my idea along with two others as their pick of the very best cleancheats approved clean Easter treats!”

I know it’s probably rather sad of me to be touched by this, but having only “gone public” with my Instagram profile 10 days ago (and being a real newbie when it comes to Instagram), I am rather thrilled to have connected/had contact with some people who are hugely inspirational to me right now*, Sarah Wilson being one of them. I truly don’t want to be a person who relies on validation from others in order to make me feel good about myself (as I know that kind of feeling good is false and fleeting), however, having kind support and encouragement in any form means a great deal to me, especially when I have a tendency to trivialise my own “little domestic pursuits”.

Happy Easter to those who are celebrating! MM xx

 

*I feel like I am too new to Instagram to use terms like “regram” in some vain attempt to appear social media-savvy, but my brother assures me that this is what the act of reposting via Instagram is known as! I am a total tech-dork!

**Poh Ling Yeow, whom I adore, is another such person.

HOW TO GET A NEW SPRING WARDROBE FOR FREE! (and do the environment a favour at the same time)

During my wild and crazy youth (lol), despite not really following mainstream fashion trends, I used to love dressing up, spending hours (literally) getting ready to go out, experimenting with hairstyles and coveting cosmetics. I am glad to not “be there” now, truth be told, however since motherhood it’s probably fair to say I have gotten myself into a bit of a style rut and the true joy of dressing up that I once experienced daily has eluded me (except on special occasions). I haven’t posted about anything related to my own personal “style” since I first started this blog. And no doubt that’s because it genuinely has not been a focus for me during this period. I don’t think I have ever cared less about clothes/shopping than I have since my pregnancy with L in 2010. Granted, back then I did love shopping for my maternity wardrobe (I bought everything in one go… God bless H&M), but that had more to do with being excited about the pregnancy… and dressing to celebrate my much-treasured “baby belly”. These days, as a non-pregnant mama of two, I have lazily, shamelessly continued to wear on rotation some of the maternity* items I purchased on that particular shopping expedition (Yep, that’s correct! Maternity items… purchased in August, 2010, people! Two thousand and ten!) ad nauseam, despite having gone through another pregnancy since then and, twice over, shrinking back down to my “normal” size & shape**.

Anyhoo, on the weekend I was invited by a dear friend (who goes by the name of The Green Brunette, if you’d care to check out her wellness-inspired yummies and send her some love) to a biannual clothing swap. I have been to two of the previous swaps, mostly as an exercise in clearing out my closet and socialising (there’s always a fun group of girls in attendance). This time I had a prior engagement, so decided that I would merely pop in, say hello, leave a few t-shirts and head back out the door.

It wasn’t to be.

I first fell in love with vintage/second-hand clothing when I was 14/15 years old and used to shop at an incense smoke-filled basement shop, complete with mini coffin near the cash register, in my home town. I loved knowing that whatever I purchased there would be unique… I loved the thrill of hunting for buried treasures in amongst endless racks of funny, mothball-smelling ensembles. But I now live a life of convenience when it comes to clothing, it seems. Of course I want to look presentable, but I hardly extend myself, creatively speaking. And, quite frankly, the thought of spending hours going through racks of clothes to maybe find one thing that could maybe look ok on me is rather unappealing these days.

And so my sunday plans were thwarted by the appearance of a number of pretty things at the clothing swap- laid out, on the trestle tables, right there in front of me… no hunting required. They got me thinking “Miss Marzipan***, you really should try something new!”. My partner in crime, JT, and I gave each other the go-ahead to act a little nuts and thereby ended up leaving the venue with about 8 times more than what we arrived with.

And this is what I came away with:

3 blingy costume jewelry bracelets
A jersey dress with sequin detail neckline
A gorgeous little bolero jacket
A delightful floral dress (that I never would have imagined suiting me if I spotted it in a store… but I love it!)
A short-sleeved sweater with lovely, sparkle-sprinkled neck line
A sheer shirt with lace detail and sweet buttons
A super-sweet floral peasant top
A brand new Friis Co. bag with tags still attached (this find brought back memories of saving enough to buy a Friis bag for around 550 Swedish Kronor during a difficult, rather depressing time a decade ago when I was earning around 400 sek per WEEK!)
A black halterneck dress with beading detail
An open-back sweater. Very versatile!

I do enjoy a little challenge when I know something positive will result from embracing it and have turned this experience into a call to action for myself. It’s time for me to rediscover the joy of dressing up in an “everyday way”.

To help me commit to putting these new clothes to good use and not reverting to relying on my circa 2010 maternity staples, I carefully hand washed the clothes using my favourite eco-friendly laundry detergent by Attitude (ylang-ylang and tangerine… it’s heavenly!) and started wearing (and relishing) them immediately.

MissMarzipan_Attitude-Ylang-Ylang-And-Tangerine-Laundry-Liquid-1800ml-4

I emptied out my favourite bag (a now sadly beaten up-looking Jimmy Choo that my husband lined up outside of H&M [with a bunch of hysterical women] to purchase for me when I was sick in bed one day back in 2009) and repacked the items inside it in my new bag, knowing that if I didn’t use “newy” straight away, old faithful would remain on my arm/shoulder until the day it completely disintegrated. The transfer of items was unexpectedly easy as my bag had surprisingly little inside it (it’s normally rather TARDIS-like); a couple of receipts, keys, purse, eye drops, translucent pressed powder, trusty fine point pen, sleeves, British passport (which I annoyingly have to carry around thanks to my expired Swedish identity card), cinema tickets to see The Grand Budapest Hotel (mementoes from a rare date night with hubby) and one of baby Cupcake’s spare beanies.

MissMarzipan_pretty_thrifty_bag_contents

WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT A CLOTHING SWAP?

Guests have the opportunity to peruse “new” and exciting things originally sourced by friends (and friends of friends) from a wide variety of labels/stores.

If you believe in reducing, reusing and recycling this has to be the ultimate way to “shop” for clothes!

What’s more, shopping at a clothing swap is cost and risk-free!

With nothing to lose, you can comfortably take a chance on an item you might not look twice at in a store. If it works for you, great. If not, someone else might love it… or it can go in the charity**** collection at the end of the day.

It’s a great way to clean up/jazz up your wardrobe, revamp your personal style and be kind to your wallet, your friends and the environment.

WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

 

Thanks again to The Green Brunette (and Dutch co.) for the invite, initiative and hosting another lovely event and <3 to you all, from a slightly-more-stylish Miss Marzipan xx

 

*Ok, so they’re officially maternity things, but they can pass for non-maternity too… most of them. I am not that dowdy, I promise ;)

**Kind of… my shape may never be exactly the same again…

***I don’t actually speak to myself in this manner, nor do I refer to myself as Miss Marzipan!

****There are charity clothing bins right outside of the venue where my friend hosts these events, so any items left on tables at the end of the day are bagged up and donated instantly!

I QUIT SUGAR TOO (an experiment in going fructose-free and eating whole)

While traveling in Australia recently, I received a message from a friend in Stockholm. The gist of it was that she’d done Sarah Wilson‘s I Quit Sugar program (otherwise known as IQS), that she was working full-time, heavily pregnant with baby #3, had babies #1 and #2 to take care of and yet had more energy than ever before… as a result of quitting sugar! Now, I understand that this is anecdotal evidence, but my curiosity was piqued. In fact, the whole thing sounded positively crazy to me… not just the concept of quitting sugar (fructose) entirely, but the incredible claims my friend was making too. She sent me a link to a blog post she’d written (aptly entitled “I Quit Sugar”) and it struck me as a call to action of sorts. Refined sugar-free I have done, Oprah’s One-week Vegan Challenge was a breeze, I have had a little success with gluten-free baking experiments, I have completely detoxed off of caffeine at various stages in my life (such as during my pregnancies), but I have never considered cutting out fructose completely (after all, isn’t fruit good for us?) nor cooking every single meal from scratch (sauces/dressings/condiments included).

Who is Sarah Wilson? (for those of you who don’t know)

I will let Wikepedia answer that question for me ;), but briefly, amongst other things, she’s a blogger, journalist, qualified health coach, program host (her first television presenter role was as the host for MasterChef Australia, Series 1, in fact!), autoimmune disease sufferer and the author of I Quit Sugar, “the bestselling Australian non-fiction title of 2013, selling over 100,000 copies and kick-starting a lifestyle revolution Down Under.”

So why quit sugar?

Well, aside from hopefully having more energy (and no energy slumps during the day), there are several claims that some scientists/researchers and, subsequently, Sarah Wilson and the IQS team have made that might provide a little motivation…

The claims (and links) on the science page of the I Quit Sugar site include the following points:

Saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease. Sugar does.
Sugar increases your risk of heart disease
Sugar ages the body and causes wrinkles
Sugar increases your risk of diabetes
It’s more addictive than cocaine
The white stuff makes you fat
Pancreatic cancer uses sugar as fuel

And what is Sarah Wilson’s definition of “sugar” (and “quit”)?

“On the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program we recommend you cut out ALL sugar, including fruit (fresh, dried and juiced), from weeks 2-6 to give yourself a chance to break the sugar addiction and allow your body to recalibrate. After this period, you are encouraged to reintroduce some low-fructose fruit and see how your body handles it.

The thing to know: fruit contains a lot fructose. Sure, whole fruit contains vitamins, minerals and fibre, which slow the absorption of the sugar, but fructose is fructose.

The other thing to know: we are designed to metabolise the amount of sugar contained in two small pieces of fruit a day. If fruit is your only source of fructose in a day, then two pieces of fruit is fantastic. But if you are also having other sources of added sugar/fructose such as a few squares of chocolate, breads or sauces then you might want to consider upping your vegetable intake instead (indeed, this is our approach on The Program). Most vegetables are more nutrient-dense than fruit anyway.

Dried fruit and juice are to be eliminated for good, however. When the fibre and water is removed from fruit, you’re left with a bundle of condensed sugar.

A glass of fruit juice contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar.

Which is the same amount contained in a glass of Coke. And it makes zero difference whether the juice has been freshly squeezed or has come from a carton. Same deal with dried fruit… it’s 50-70 per cent sugar.”

- See more at: http://iquitsugar.com/resource-sheets/am-i-allowed-to-eat-fruit/#sthash.l02jH4tc.dpuf

So, I read all of that (and a bunch of other IQS-related stuff) and wondered…

… could I quit sugar too?

Would it afford me the same amazing results as my friend achieved? Would it turn me into a sweets-obsessed lunatic or an anti-social, housebound recluse who spends her days obsessing over her limited dietary options?

Only one way to find out!

Just before we left Australia, I spotted Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar for Life on sale at a special discounted price, liked the look of it, grabbed a copy and packed it in my suitcase. I returned to Sweden, after having indulged on all that the Fringe Festival food trucks in Adelaide had to offer, keen to embark upon this new sugar-free adventure.

Over the next few weeks I hope to share the details* of that journey here, including meal plans, meal plan templates/shopping lists, recipes, Instagram pics (fresh from my fledgling Instagram account) and hopefully a whole lot of inspiration!

To be honest, I don’t see myself staying completely sugar-free in the longterm, but for now it’s a case of so far, so good :)

Here’s a brief rundown of what I consider to be the pros and cons at this point:

WHAT I AM LOVING

Eating no processed food
Cupboards, fridge and freezer all stocked with healthy food
Eating LOADS of veggies and nutrient dense food
Consuming foods with minimal gluten
Cooking all meals from scratch with healthy, organic ingredients
Being aware of every ingredient we use in preparing meals
The opportunity to get super-organised in the kitchen/plan meals/go to the supermarket knowing exactly what we want/need to buy and sticking with it
Seeing my kids enjoy some of the food too
Experimenting and tweaking recipes (making some of the “meaty” ones vegetarian-friendly)
Trying new things
Increased mindfulness and awareness around food and how it really makes me feel

WHAT I DON’T LOVE SO MUCH

All the prep and from scratch cooking means tons of cleaning up too and not much time for other stuff (such as blogging!) with the little ones to take care of
Not being able to easily come by some “specialty” ingredients (Hello, rice malt syrup? You’re harder to find than Nemo here in Stockholm!)
Not having enough time in the day to cook, experiment, etc., more!
The fact that dairy and meat feature prominently in many of the recipes (and I prefer to eat veggie, use vegan milk at home ordinarily, etc.)
Going to the cinema on a rare date night to celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary and candy is off-limits… wah-wah :'(!

WHAT I REALLY DON’T LOVE

The lack of clarity around supplement usage (ie., a comprehensive outline of effects, who should/shouldn’t take them, possible complications, etc.). This subject really is a whole other post, but for now, let’s just say I had a nasty experience with Chromium (which appears on the suggested shopping list for the 8-week program) after taking just 1 capsule and the paramedics (yes, freakin’ paramedics!) said the toxicologist (yes, freakin’ toxicologist) they spoke to said this was not the first instance of an adverse reaction that has been reported!

I don’t want to harp on about this, but felt obliged to share my experience on this point at least briefly and to urge anyone considering undertaking this (or indeed any health-related) program to consider seeking medical advice from a qualified professional before taking any supplements for the first time.

… And on a brighter note…

WHAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO

Being able to get a hold of some rice malt syrup
Experimenting with sugar-free baking
Getting better organised and faster in the kitchen
Tweaking more recipes and coming up with my own original ones
Seeing the results of this experiment

*The contents of this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. What I share via this blog is anecdotal, even if the topics I write about may be health-related.

MISS MARZIPAN ON INSTAGRAM!

Click here or on the image below to check out what I have been eating each day during this IQS process (plus other stuff!)  

MissMarzipan_on_Instagram2