Slow Cooker Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry; Meal Plan Your Way to Weight Loss – Rebecca Burnicle and Wendy Van Staden

Meal-Plan Your Way to Weight Loss by Rebecca Burnicle and Wendy Van Staden, published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99, photography by Jeremy Simons.

“Meal-prepping is so easy when you put your slow cooker to work. This recipe
makes 8 portions, so stocking your freezer with ‘I can’t be bothered’ dinners
is a breeze. All it takes is 15 minutes of prep in the morning.
Serves 8 / Prep 15 minutes / Cook 3 hours 45 minutes – 7 hours 30 minutes” p154

Slow Cooker Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

2 brown onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder ( I use a gluten free stock)
50 g coconut milk powder
2 cups (400 g) dried red lentils
250 g cauliflower, cut into 2 cm pieces
250 g orange sweet potato (kumara), cut into 2 cm pieces
1 zucchini, cut into 2 cm pieces
400 g can diced tomatoes
400 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150 g baby spinach leaves
1 cup fresh coriander sprigs
2–6 PersonalPoints range per serve


1 Place all ingredients, except for chickpeas, spinach and coriander sprigs in a 5.5 litre (22 cup) slow cooker. Add 1 litre (4 cups) water and stir to combine. Cook on high for 3.5 hours (or low for 7 hours).


2 Stir in chickpeas and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for a further 15 minutes (or low for 30 minutes). Top with coriander sprigs to serve.

Stove-top method:
1 Heat a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, until softened slightly. Add spices and stock powder and cook,
stirring, for a further 1 minute.


2 Stir in coconut milk powder, lentils, cauliflower, sweet potato, zucchini and tomatoes. Add enough water to cover vegetables. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30–40 minutes, until vegetables and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding extra water if mixture starts to catch
on base of pan.


3 Stir in chickpeas and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Top with coriander sprigs.


· TO REFRIGERATE: Transfer curry to a large reusable container or divide individual portions into separate reusable containers. Store for up to 5 days. To reheat, simmer gently in a saucepan or microwave single
servings until hot, stirring in a little water if curry is too thick.


· TO FREEZE: Store curry as above. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat
as above.

**This is one of my favourite vegetarian curries though I hadn’t thought of adding cauliflower – what a great idea. I will make this to take with me on my next visit to my vegetarian daughter.**

Weight Watchers : Prep For Success : Meal Plan For Weight Loss.

Meal-Plan Your Way to Weight Loss by Rebecca Burnicle and Wendy Van Staden, published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99, photography by Jeremy Simons.

My View:

Some great advice that I intend to start following. Once I did meal plan, it made shopping, cooking and my day easier. It’s time to focus on things that work to make our busy lives easier. I will share some quick and easy recipes from this book in the next few days.

“There are ways to get even more bang for your meal-planning buck, including this handful of ideas:
Make the effort to choose recipes and meals that include some of the same ingredients or components, so you can prep and cook once to enjoy several different meals across the week. This could be cooked lentils, roast vegetables or poached chicken breast.

You can use the ‘ingredient’ index at the back of this cookbook to easily find recipes that have foods in common.


Create a plan that’s a little bit flexible. Depending on your preferences (and your personality!), being
able to switch and swap a few meals across the week, to cater to what you genuinely feel like
eating on any given day rather than being too rigid about what you have to eat, when, can help
you stick with the plan.


Choose recipes that you want and like to eat. Sure, kale, fish and chickpeas are good for you,
but if you genuinely don’t like the taste of those ingredients, it’s best not to choose recipes for
your meal plan that rely too heavily on them. Incorporate recipes that feature your ZeroPoint
foods if you’re a WW member. You chose them for a reason – because you like them! So when you
do this, you not only tick the box outlined above, you’ll be making the most of your Personal Points
Budget, too.


Make sure at least one or two (or three!) of the recipes in your meal plan are quick-fire ones so
that when your day is busier than expected, you can still create something healthy and delicious,
regardless of how much prep you have or haven’t been able to do beforehand. Check out the prep
and cooking times included on every recipe in this book to guide you.


HOW TO PREP FOR SUCCESS
Once you’ve planned your meals, the next step is prepping ahead of time to make it as easy as
possible to cook those meals. Depending on the ingredients and what suits you best, you can
either set aside a specific time to do this prep or simply incorporate it into the cooking process for a
particular recipe. Either way, once you start thinking about it, your prepping options are endless, but for
some inspiration, you could:

Chop up ingredients ahead of time. Again, you can either set aside a time to do this or whenever
you’re preparing meat, plant-based proteins or veggies for one meal, simply chop and divide
up more so that you have them ready to go, for another meal.

Totally stretched for time? When it comes to vegetables, the frozen variety are great to have on hand. They’re nutritious, pre-chopped and you can cook them straight from frozen.


Cook up double – or triple – batches of those ingredients that the recipes you’ve chosen have in common. Depending on how many days it’ll be until you’ll use them again, you can either store
them in the fridge or pop them in the freezer (turn over the page for freezing tips). After cooking,
‘leftover’ ingredients last for two or three days in the fridge.

Make sure your fridge, freezer and pantry is well organised. The way it’s structured only has to
make sense to you, but being able to put your hands on the ingredients you need quickly is vital
to making the meal-prep and cooking process as easy and enjoyable as possible.” p.15

Review: Double Lives – Kate Mc Caffrey

Double Lives

Kate McCaffrey

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760687564

RRP $29.99

Description:

This established WA-based writer examines notions of truth, gender, identity and acceptance in a compelling novel about a cold-case podcast.

Truth is like a lens we apply to everything we see, it is malleable and transformative, we can bend it, mould it, shape it, vanish it. We do this to present the versions of ourselves we want the world to see, and to hide the versions we can’t bear to reveal.

Newly returned to Western Australia, journalist Amy Rhinehart pitches a crime podcast to increase her radio station’s ratings. Her idea: to use the listeners of the show as its co-creators, with live-time calls and suggestion boards. The case: Jonah Scott, charged and imprisoned for life for the murder of his girlfriend, transgender woman Casey Williams. Jonah went to great lengths to hide the body – but when arrested, confessed immediately and pleaded guilty, negating the need for a trial. Amy believes there is something darker at the heart of this case and sets about finding the truth, investigating a world of drugs, sex, gender identity and religious cults.

Threaded through the main narrative, the podcast transcripts represent a story-within-a-story, exploring the characters of Jonah and Casey and the relationship between them, interwoven with Amy’s investigation into the cult run by Jonah’s family and its potential involvement in Casey’s murder.

My View:

A captivating read. I really enjoyed this style of writing – the mix of “script/podcast” style of narration, of interviews, the investigative aspects, and the thought provoking, cotemporary issues surrounding gender and identity that are sensitively woven into the mystery.

This read also has a great sense of place. I can easily picture the the fruit picking regions, the cult, the farms, the rural isolated towns, the city radio stations and the competitive nature of the presenters time slots, it all has an authentic feel.

McCaffrey seamlessly weaves in many thought provoking movements in what is presented as an investigation into a murder, it is a search for the why not the who (or is it?), as we already have a self confessed, perpetrator in prison for the crime (to me this has a feel of a docu/mockumentary), I like this style. The protagonist is determined to discover the “truth”, and again we are drawn into a discussion about truth and how it presented, how we want to read it… how our opinions can be swayed.

I applaud the author, she does not shy away from presenting an ending that will be uncomfortable and maybe unexpected (it was for me) , an ending that doesnt neatly and mundanely tie the narration up into what we presume is going to be the outcome (no spoilers here) … it is too easy to give the reader an expected conclusion.

A great topical and contemporary read with more than a few surprises.

Review: The Butcher and The Wren – Alaina Urquhart

The Butcher and The Wren

Alaina Urquhart

Michael Joseph

Penguin Random House

ISBN:9780241610602

Description:

From the co-host of chart-topping true crime podcast Morbid, a thrilling debut novel told from the duelling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads…

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve.

Until now.

Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day…

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

My View:

I took a little time to warm up to the style of the writing here but then I was hooked. It has been a long time since a book has demanded I stay up and read to the very end. This read is at times uncomfortable – the violence and torture ( though its not dwelled upon it is a feature of the killers modus operandi), its a read with one hand over you eyes type of book 🙂

This is a fast paced read, modern, engaging and quick read. I haven’t heard the podcast that the author co hosts but if you are a fan of any crime podcasts you will be a fan of the writing here.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Early Readers

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

Sami Bayley

Lothian Children’s Books

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780734421364 

RRP $32.99

Description:

Take a deep dive into the evolution stories behind some of the most surprising creatures from the sea with award-winning author and illustrator, Sami Bayly.

Come with us on a deep dive through the ocean zones. Meet some of the most unusual creatures from the sea and hear their stories about how they have changed over millions of years to survive in the inky ocean depths.

Discover why the deepsea flounder is as flat as a pancake, learn all about the 500-million-year-old comb jelly and find out why yeti crabs are so hairy. From the barreleye fish to the tripod spiderfish, prepare to be amazed by the incredible creatures that inhabit our seas.

From the award-winning creator of The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly AnimalsThe Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature.

My View:
Giving the gift of books to children, any time of the year, is always my number one option for present giving. Start early, read to your baby, ready to your toddlers, read with your early reader. Read, read, read.

This book is beautifully illustrated, with engaging, hand drawn images and sprinkled with fun facts.

Thinking of Christmas?

It’s not too early to start planning for Christmas.

Puzzles/word games- good for the brain and keep kids and adults busy for hours.

Australian Word Puzzles More then 600 Puzzles from Pan Macmillan is the perfect gift or stocking filler.

Online word games have taken the world by storm. You can now hone your skills with these five-letter word puzzles at any time, at any place, and more than once a day!

More than 600 puzzles.
All spellings are from Australian English.
Puzzles start off simply and build up to a challenging level.
Hints are supplied if needed.

Here are a couple of tasters 🙂 The hint for 9 is tease and the hint for 10 is valley

Instructions: Each puzzle consists of three to six rows. The last row is left blank for you to write the solution word, and the others each contain a “guess” word as a clue. All the words are five letters long.

Every letter in a “guess” word appears in a box with a black, grey or white background.

A grey box contains a letter that appears in the solution in a different position. If a letter in a white box doesn’t appear at all elsewhere in the guess word, that letter is not in the solution at all. If, however, a letter in a white box does appear elsewhere in the “guess” word , count the number of times it appears in a grey or black box. That’s how many times that letter appears in the solution.

Once a letter has been eliminated, you can cross it off in the alphabet which is printed beside each puzzle. That way you can keep track of the letters which may be in the solution.

When all the guesses are combined, there is only one possible word that the solution can be.

Good luck and let me know in the comments what you think the solutions are.

Review: The Girl in the Green Dress -Dr Jeni Haynes and Dr George Blair – West

The Girl in the Green Dress

Dr Jeni Haynes & Dr George Blair-West

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644856

RRP $32.99

Description:

An unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live shows how MPD or DID saved her life. It is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.

I didn’t know that you’re only supposed to have one personality. I didn’t realise that having lots of voices in your head was abnormal. But you are protecting yourself. You are protecting your soul, and that’s what I did.’

An intelligent, poised woman, Jeni Haynes sat in court and listened as the man who had abused her from birth, a man who should have been her protector, a man who tortured and terrified her, was jailed for a non-parole period of 33 years. The man was her father.

The abuse that began when Jeni was only a baby is unimaginable to most. It was physically, psychologically and emotionally sadistic and never-ending. The fact she survived may be called a miracle by some – but the reality is, it is testament to the extraordinary strength of Jeni’s mind.

What saved her was the process of dissociation – Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – a defence mechanism that saw Jeni create over 2500 separate personalities, or alters, who protected her as best they could from the trauma. This army of alters included four-year-old Symphony, teenage motorcycle-loving Muscles, elegant Linda, forthright Judas and eight-year-old Ricky.

With her army, the support of her psychiatrist Dr George Blair-West, and a police officer’s belief in her, Jeni fought to create a life for herself and bring her father to justice. In a history-making ruling, Jeni’s alters were empowered to give evidence in court. In speaking out, Jeni’s courage would see many understand MPD for the first time.

THE GIRL IN THE GREEN DRESS is an unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. This is a unique and profoundly important book as it is not only a story of survival, it also includes incredible insight from Dr George Blair-West, Jeni’s psychiatrist and an expert in DID.

My View:
What an incredible read! Reading with one hand over your eyes…blocking out the horrific parts (dont worry you are given written notice of “triggers ahead”), this book is … amazing! The strength, the resilience, the power that Jeni now has in her life is such a contrast to that she had as a child.

I am calling this the best read of the year; powerful, evocative, sensitively written… a book that sheds the light on Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder – the coping mechanism Jeni employed to protect herself from the atrocities she faced. If you get the opportunity watch this video. Hear Jeni and some of her “alters” speaks. So glad you made it through Jeni.

Review: So You Want to Live Younger Longer? – Dr Norman Swan

So You Want to Live Younger Longer?

Dr Norman Swan

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733648342

RRP $34.99

Description:

The ultimate guide on what you can do at any age to stay young and healthy longer, from Australia’s trusted, straight-talking doctor and broadcaster, Dr Norman Swan, bestselling author of So You Think You Know What’s Good for You?

Many of us dream of staying as young as possible as long as possible whether we’re in our 30s, 40s, 70s or even 80s, and there’s a growing Conga line of products and people offering you just that dream. The dilemma is, which of the pills, mental and physical exercise programs, diets and superfoods actually work? Some of them do help to keep us young, healthy and living longer, others may work when the researchers get the potions right and some are a downright waste of money. So how do you know what and who to trust? That’s the journey that Dr Norman Swan is going to take you on in So You Want to Live Younger Longer?

Deeply researched and written with his trademark wit, common sense and accessibility, Norman brings together what’s known, not known, hopeful but not harmful and harmful and not hopeful, summarised with quick takeaway messages backed up by the science and evidence. No matter what your age, So You Want to Live Younger Longer? gives you the information you need to make your own choices without wasting your time and money or even missing a nice dinner because you might be on a diet that is getting you nowhere.

Norman disentangles our ‘Book of Life’ – the genes we’re born with and what we subject them to later on – and shows that in the search for youth, genes matter much less than you’d think for most of us. In other words, we can overwrite our personal Book of Life and Norman’s book will help you do it.

We can live younger, longer – at any age – we’ve just got to know what to do.

My View:

An excellent, informative, well written, engaging read. So much science based, researched information presented with wit and humour. This is an author I would love to hear speak in person…his ability to connect with the reader/the room is amazing.

A great read.

Review: Here be Leviathans – Chris Flynn

Here be Leviathans

Chris Flynn

University of Queensland Press

ISBN:9780702262777

Description:

A collection of funny, brilliant, boundary-pushing stories from the bestselling author of Mammoth. A grizzly bear goes on the run after eating a teenager. A hotel room participates in an unlikely conception. A genetically altered platypus colony puts on an art show. A sabretooth tiger falls for the new addition to his theme park. An airline seat laments its last useful day. A Shakespearean monkey test pilot launches into space. The stories in Here Be Leviathans take us from the storm drains under Las Vegas to the Alaskan wilderness; the rainforests of Queensland to the Chilean coastline. Narrated in Chris Flynn’s unique and hilarious style by animals, places, objects and even the (very) odd human, these short fictions push the boundaries of the form by examining human behaviour from the perspective of the outsider. 

My View:

What an impressive range of styles, voices and ideas this collection showcases, I could read more. There is something here for everyone to enjoy but a couple of these stories are standouts for me; the first, which gives a brilliant, witty insight into the thinking of a grizzly bear – hilarious. But my very favourite was the last, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, set in the underground sewers and the sky scrapers of Las Vegas. A story that illustrates how hope, joy and love can be found anywhere. Loved this one.

PS I was really fortunate to be gifted a set of “chapter cards” with brilliant artworks on the front and extracts of each chapters on the back. What a fabulous idea!

5 star read!

Review: The Pachinko Parlour – Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

The Pachinko Parlour

Elisa Shua Dusapin

Translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922585172

Description:

From the author of Winter in Sokcho, which won the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

The days are beginning to draw in. The sky is dark by seven in the evening. I lie on the floor and gaze out of the window. Women’s calves, men’s shoes, heels trodden down by the weight of bodies borne for too long.

It is summer in Tokyo. Claire finds herself dividing her time between tutoring twelve-year-old Mieko in an apartment in an abandoned hotel and lying on the floor at her grandparents: daydreaming, playing Tetris, and listening to the sounds from the street above. The heat rises; the days slip by.

The plan is for Claire to visit Korea with her grandparents. They fled the civil war there over fifty years ago, along with thousands of others, and haven’t been back since. When they first arrived in Japan, they opened Shiny, a pachinko parlour. Shiny is still open, drawing people in with its bright, flashing lights and promises of good fortune. And as Mieko and Claire gradually bond, their tender relationship growing, Mieko’s determination to visit the pachinko parlour builds.

The Pachinko Parlour is a nuanced and beguiling exploration of identity and otherness, unspoken histories, and the loneliness you can feel within a family. Crisp and enigmatic, Shua Dusapin’s writing glows with intelligence.

My View:

Another beautifully written book which has been excellently translated, a joy to read.

Shua Dusapin writes with intelligence and with a deep understanding of what it is to be human. Her writing evocatively reflects on aging, culture, belonging … The writing has a sense of innocence that is peaceful yet confident; vignettes of the ordinary that are so revealing.