Icy Creamy, Little Bites and a GIVEAWAY!

 
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YUM!  Do those icy treats look good to you?  I can testify that they taste incredible, even if they don't look quite as gorgeous as the ones pictured on Page 39 of my insanely-talented-friend's new book.  They are the 'Roasted Peaches And Cream Pops' from Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet by Christine Chitnis.  You would expect from the look of them that they were laden with a whole lot of guilt-inducing ingredients but here's where things get giddyingly good... they are healthy!  Her and I feel the same way when it comes to how we feed ourselves and our families, especially our kids and every single icy treat inside the pages of Christine's new book uses seasonal wholesome ingredients and natural sweeteners.  This book caters very well for all kinds of dietary preferences and food intolerance too.

"Many of the recipes are vegan, nut-free, and dairy-free, and all are free of refined sugar, instead relying on natural sweeteners."

I am steadily working my way through each recipe and although I lack photographs of all the ones we have tried, the kids and I are yet to be disappointed. 

 

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"Here you'll find seventy-five original recipes for frozen treats.  Depending on your dietary needs, these recipes lend themselves well to substitution.  You can try substituting dairy milk for nut milk, or vice versa, and experiment with swapping in different sweeteners.  Taste as you go; none of the recipes (besides those for the four cookies) contains eggs or other potentially harmful raw ingredients.  The recipes in this book are made for playing and experimenting, though if you follow them to the letter, you certainly won't be disappointed by the results."
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This one is the 'Banana Almond Shake With Cacao Nibs'.  My bananas were really ripe when I froze them so the shakes in this photo are darker as a result.  Plus I didn't have any cream on hand so let's face it, mine just don't look as pretty, but they sure tasted good.  This recipe is one I already know by-heart because I have now made it so many times.  It might just be our favourite but that's a big call to make as there are many coming a very close second!  I love it because it is so easy to whip together and the list of ingredients are things I always have on hand.  It's become my go-to after school snack as it's the perfect filler - great for hungry bellies but not so filling that it interferes with meal times.  It offers a little energy boost and tastes delicious to boot!

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Turns out that it's not just Christine and I who share similar tastes but our kids as well...

"This is the most requested frozen recipe at our house.  My boys love this shake for breakfast, as a snack, or for dessert.  It is filling, full of nutrients and fiber, and deliciously sweet and creamy.  On top of that, cacao nibs add unique health benefits to this shake.  While cocoa is cooked during its making, stripping it of more than 90 percent of its nutrients, raw cacao is packed with health benefits like iron, magnesium, calcium, and beta-carotene.  It certainly earns its status as a superfood!"

Some of the other recipes include Firecracker Pops, Blackberry Coconut Chia Pops, Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pops, Black Cherry And Dark Chocolate Chunk Frozen "Yogurt", and Frozen Yogurt Bark.  That's just five of the seventy-five!  How delightful are just the names, let alone how delicious they taste!!!! They are all so so good.

Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet is Christine's third book, with Markets of New England being her first and Little Bites, co-authored with Sarah Waldman being Christine's second book.  The two most recent ones are published through Roost Books and are available to purchase through their online store.  Alternatively, all are available through major online booksellers, plus selected bookstores around the U.S. (I'm not sure about Australian stores yet but certainly Aussies can get them online). 

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Little Bites celebrates kid-friendly snacks but I have found that the recipes are not just limited to the wee-folk.  I've worked my way through quite a few of these snacks now (this second book was released almost a year ago) and my own personal favourite are the Asparagus Fries with Parmesan Cheese, but recently the kids have been binging on the Carrot-Apple Cinnamon Sticks.  I can't blame them as they taste like the most delicious muesli-fruit slice ever but are even more fun for the kids because of their shape.  They are soft, sweet and chewy, and very very yummy!

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I really could go on and on about the recipes in both these books and I haven't even finished trying each and every one.  They have become go-to cookbooks in my kitchen but before you go ahead and purchase your copies, I have something exciting to offer you...

Christine has sent me a copy of Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet and I get to host my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY!!!!  But it's not just her new book I'm giving away, on offer is...

  • One copy of Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet
  • One copy of Little Bites
  • PLUS a 5x7 Photographic Print from Christine's own collection that showcases the most gorgeous image of blackberries and blueberries (see below)... oh, did I mention that Christine also happens to be an incredible photographer?  Yeah, that too ;)

So here's what you need to do. 

Leave a comment either here or on the corresponding Instagram post (you'll find it in my feed with the Peach Pops photo, or click on the photo in the left side bar) and tell me what your ultimate childhood comfort food was and do you still crave it now when needing a little edible hug?

Mine's Tuna and Corn Mornay and you bet I still rely upon it!  The only difference is that these days I usually cook it myself (using my Mum's recipe of course), but every now and then she will hand me a casserole dish filled with that yummy heart-warming goodness and always, without fail, it tastes better than any other.

 

Please note, frame not included.  But it looks pretty doesn't it?  A rustic reclaimed timber frame would look great too.

Please note, frame not included.  But it looks pretty doesn't it?  A rustic reclaimed timber frame would look great too.

Next Sunday 29th May, my kids will hold a hat full of names and I'll draw a winner.  I will announce the lucky recipient on the Monday (30th May) at the bottom of this post and on Instagram, plus they will be notified by private message as well. 

Oh and also, this offer is open to anyone, anywhere :)

Good Luck!!!

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I thought I would included this photo because who doesn't love a little 'behind the scenes' action shot?  Photo credit goes to a friend of mine who was happily sipping coffee while I was making a batch of the Carrot-Apple Cinnamon Sticks from Little Bites (page 192).  My friend was questioning my extreme discomfort with having my photograph taken and so grabbed my camera to help me overcome my issues.  Haha it didn't work!

One last detail... do you live in the U.S?  Throughout the next month or so, Christine will be touring the East and West Coasts and through her sponsors, Vitamix and HawaiianShavedIce, they will be hosting a series of events involving yummy treats, book signings, demos and all kinds of fun things.  Check out Christine's Events page for more details.

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Southern Flinders Ranges - Part 2

 
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Mount Remarkable National Park.  It is everything it's name sets it up to be.  It is spectacular and leaves you filled with such awe and respect for all of Nature's wonder and yet, not even those last words do it justice, nor do these photographs.  You just have to experience it for yourself and I really hope if ever your within reach of this area, that you do just that.

So here we go, are you ready?  We're going to spend the day hiking Alligator Gorge. The kids and I are lucky we were able to experience this hike through each and every one of our senses, but the best I can offer you is this visual feast.  Stick this place onto your "Bucket List" because I can promise that it will not disappoint and you will come away energised, whole and completely marveled at the incredibility of Nature.  The splendor of those rock formations leave you feeling bewildered, connected and even a little bit ethereal.  It's extraordinary, it really is.

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Beginning with a funny little story, I'm going to let you in on a teeny tiny secret.  Well, perhaps it is more of a confession.  You see, this hike the kids and I undertook was not intended to be the six hour hike it became.  I think I may have taken a wrong turn!  Or more to the point, I didn't turn.  We set off with means of hiking the Gorge Circuit Hike, a two hour return trip.  I didn't look carefully enough at that map and it turned out we trailed the Alligator Gorge Ring Route, a four hour return trip, but with little legs and lots of breaks to soak in the majesty of this place that four hours quickly became six.  The Australian bush can be a dangerous place and one should always be equipped when venturing forth.  Fortunately for us, we were prepared.  We had plenty of water and food supplies inside our pack, plus we each carried a jumper as the day had begun chilly, as well as our hats.  We cross paths with another family during our hike but they went on ahead as we were stopped for lunch at the time.  Upon our return to the car park we met up with that same family which gave me the opportunity to ask if they too had found their hike considerably longer than expected.  We described to each other the way we'd gone and it turned out we'd both chosen the same route and made the same mistake.  Luckily all the kids involved were up for the challenge and regardless of my navigation skills (or lack there of), I am thrilled we went the way we did.  Hiking is one of my all time favourite things and I am hoping to encourage that love within my kids.  They themselves are turning into great trailblazers and to have joined me in that six hour adventure was a stellar effort. 

After we climbed our way up the stone steps from the bottom of the gorge, these were the signs that greeted us.  It was the junction to the fire track and after having already hiked for four hours we were expecting a sign to read something like "Alligator Gorge car park 0.5 km".  This was the moment I realised my mistake!  I had to shovel my way out and I had to shovel f.a.s.t !  At this point, those expressions in that photo above pretty much say it all.  The kids were not impressed and my explanation of our options was met with dispirited moans, crestfallen faces and a definitive thumbs down.  They were tired and in need of a morale boost.  So I resorted to the only thing any other parent in my position could do.  I turned to bribery!  It's amazing how much bounce the thought of hot chocolate with marshmallows and the promise of a new Lego set can give a child.  And I'm not talking the jumbo Lego sets either, they were given the smaller size that you are likely to buy as a birthday gift for a classmate.  Little did they know I was prepared to offer three figure cash amounts and aerial scenic flights!  Haha, such troupers they were and they did so well for their first big hike. 

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It may be just the three of us who think this, but do you see an alligator in that log above?  I had to photograph it because, really, how cool!  Of course, that log is not what gave Alligator Gorge it's name.  There are mixed reports as to the origins, with some stating that the gorge was named after a local shepherd called Ally but it is also likely that the name came about through the ancient quartzite walls and their resemblance to alligator skin.

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As it happens, Mount Remarkable National Park is the featured Park of the Month for Nature Play SA and Jason Tyndall, Support Manager for Nature Play SA, wrote a fabulous blog post earlier this month.  His visit was just days before our own and instead of me retelling all the details, I'm just going to piggy-back off of Jason's blog post and also his list of 20 Things To Discover in Mt Remarkable National Park.

In conjunction with Nature Play SA, the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources is hosting a series of events throughout the month highlighting how unique this National Park really is.  If you happen to be in the area over the next couple of weeks, check out their list of events here.  Also worth noting is Melrose's annual Fat Tyre Festival which will overtake the town and surrounding areas in June (10th - 13th).  Mt Remarkable itself is accessed via Melrose and is well worth a visit even if you are not a mountain biking enthusiast.  It is steeped in history and having been established in 1853, it is the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges.

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Depending on how long you've been joining me here, you may or may not remember the Nature Bag I put together for Noah's fifth birthday last year.  I still get a buzz each and every time I see that kid diving into that bag, which is often and he was determined not to forget it when we were packing for this trip.  I had to restrict what he brought with him for our hike knowing that at some point I would be the one carrying it all.  He chose his binoculars and the identification charts which were ideal when trying to ID the "Orange Peel Fungus" (Ascomycetes - Aleuria aurantia) we came across.  At least I hope we ID it correctly..?

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I love that our visit coincided with it being the Park of the Month as I've long been an eager follower of Nature Play SA and advocate all that they strive toward and represent.  If you live in or around South Australia I highly recommend planning a road trip out this way and if you are farther afield, then add it to your next travel itinerary.  It can be enjoyed any time of year but Autumn through to Spring is best for milder temps and stunning wildlife.

Have a read of Southern Flinders Ranges - Part 1 for details of the days either side of our hike.

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Southern Flinders Ranges - Part 1

 
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Welcome to the post of one thousand photos!  And it is only Part 1!!!!  No kidding, the reason it's taken me over two weeks to sift through all the photographs from our trip to the Southern Flinders Ranges is because not only did I return to a pressing deadline, but also my memory card held over 600 shots!!  I think I may have a problem... taking excessive amounts of photographs is becoming an addiction.  It doesn't help that I'm obsessed with my camera and having SO much fun playing around with all the settings.  You gotta learn it all somehow, right?

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So let me begin by introducing you to a little pocket of the world called the Flinders Ranges.  I've included a couple of maps because it occurred to me when writing this post that a visual might really help with gaining an understanding of where we visited and the location of the Flinders Ranges in relation to the rest of Australia.  A little while ago, I Skyped with a friend of mine (she's U.S. based and has not yet been to Australia) who asked how far I was from Melbourne as she wanted to connect me with another friend.  When I answered that we were a decent eight hour drive away she was somewhat awed by the sheer vastness of this country.  She's not alone, even I am continually amazed at the space between each main city, but since I know many of you are based outside of this place I call home, I thought the maps might help. 

The Southern Flinders Ranges is a few hours drive north from Adelaide - we took our time with many stops because that's what you do when your traveling with two kids and a dog.  So for us, with those stops, it took close to five hours but if you went directly there it would be about three.  It is completely, totally and utterly magical and so very worth it.  This area is an ancient landscape created around 800 million years old.  That earth and those rocks hold Indigenous sacred knowledge.  The wisdom of elders.  It nurtures, it nourishes and it restores you in ways no words can describe.  It's a place where you stop, breathe and allow for the healing to happen.

The area named 'Flinders Ranges' begins approximately 200 kilometres north of Adelaide and stretches over 430 kilometres.  It is vast and wide and blends spectacular rugged mountain ranges with the dry, red cracked earth of the Outback.  The links near the bottom will offer more info but it is made up of many National Parks, Conservation Parks and Regional Reserves.

I have always held a very special place within my heart for the Flinders Ranges.  I have memories from childhood camping trips and even more memories from my early years with Tuck.  Those days from my twenties feel like a long time ago now.  A time before our overseas adventures and before our many interstate moves, even before marriage and kids.  Each year over the Easter long-weekend Tuck and I would pilgrimage to Wilpena Pound right in the heart of the Flinders and we would spend those days pitched in an unpowered site along Eagle Ridge, part of the Wilpena Pound Resort.  We loved that ridge and would make our journey as early as we could just to guarantee that spot.  Our days would be spent hiking, 4WD-ing, playing cards and hanging out by our campfire.  It was about connecting with Mother Nature and that ancient landscape while the pure magic infused with every part of our Being.  

For this trip away, I didn't want to travel as far as Wilpena Pound and the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park but my craving to reconnect with those mountains was strong and so these past Autumn school holidays seemed like the perfect time.  When a friend suggested I take the kids to the Southern Flinders and Mount Remarkable National Park instead of the more central area around Wilpena, I instantly started clicking around. 

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That little collection of three photos above is not technically a part of the Flinders Ranges but is an often overlooked lake along the road toward Port Pirie (in other words, it's on the way).  That is Lake Bumbunga by the "blink and you miss it" town of Lochiel.  I am so glad that same dear friend of mine recommended not to drive past it but to stop and have a wonder.  Oh my goodness!!!!  I never knew it even existed but this lake is amazing.  It is salt water but the concentration of salt far outweighs the water.  We wandered a fair way out and the water level never past our upper shins.  Well, my upper shins, it was higher on the kids and Snowy was off somewhere having a sniff in the bushes.  You can see from the photos that it's pink salt!  Rich in minerals, wet pink salt!!  So instead of purchasing Himalayan or Celtic salt, all I have to do is visit this incredible lake in my own state!  Underneath a thick crust of salt lies a mass of dark mineral rich clay.  My friend also suggested that I may want to bring a couple of jars to sample some.  I didn't hesitate! 

Continuing on to the small town of Wilmington, we found our camp at the Beautiful Valley Caravan Park.  There's nothing fancy about this caravan park, it's simple but fulfills all your basic needs and best of all, owner Jack is more than happy to babysit sweet friendly and full of love shag-piles like Snowy while we day-tripped into the National Park. 

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A quick flashback to the past... remember those things called phoneboxes?  There's not too many around anymore and the ones that are don't look like this with the old 'gold phone' inside.  Not that I want to make myself sound old or anything, but I use to think a lot about the changes my Grandmother saw during her lifetime... you know, post Industrial Revolution and all, but for us GenX-ers, wow, it's been the Technological Age, or Information Age as it is also coined.  To think that public phoneboxes were a mainstay on nearly every street corner but now we all have a small, wafer thin handheld device slipped effortlessly into our pockets that does way more than make a simple phonecall.  And how outrageously reliant upon that funny little device we have all become.  Mmmm... my thoughts are wandering.  I should probably move on from my fit of nostalgia and get back to talking about our family road-trip ;)

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I very nearly didn't pack the bikes with us thinking that this trip was more about hiking and exploring rather than being on bikes but I will be forever glad I did throw them in.  The number of hours those two kids spent peddling around the camp was incredible.  If we weren't hiking or in the car, they were on their bikes!  And even more incredible, is that it was only the week before our trip Noah transitioned from his balance bike to his BMX.  That kid is peddling with the best of them now!  He amazes me, as does his big sister.

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Not far from Wilmington is another small town called Melrose.  This town is a mecca for the mountain bike enthusiast and hosts an annual event called the Fat Tyre Festival.  I am stunned I have not known about this area, or this town and it's festival before!  I have a mountain bike and not that I engage in any hard-core downhill but I do love to take a few trails.  The best bit is that the festival is totally family-friendly and caters really well for kids with more gentle trails.  With the flood of visitors who descend upon the town each June long-weekend, they close off the main street and play host to a three day street party.  Apparently there's market stalls, local food and produce, face painters, live music and street performers.  What a blast!!!  I think we might just have to plan a return trip for next year's festival. 

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Among the coastal towns in the Southern Flinders Ranges there is a small settlement called Port Germain.  I imagine back in it's heyday, Port Germain was probably quite a bustling precinct.  These days however, it is one step away from becoming a ghost town.  I was curious about it though, so we took a drive and on the way into town I spied this shop.

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An outback store like the Junk Shop is not a place to pass by.  It's the kind of trove where an avid treasure seeker like myself can stumble upon a golden nugget.  In this case I did actually find a long sort after wardrobe staple in the form of a denim jacket!  It was dusty but nothing a few washes hasn't fixed.  It's colour, it's cut and it's size are absolutely perfect on me, what are the chances, eh?  But the true golden nugget was the store's owner,  Karen.  I knew from the moment she greeted us that I wanted to chat with her and chat we did.  While the kids fossicked around, Karen shared some of her story.  Sometimes when you meet a person, you just know there's a memoir inside waiting to be told.  Karen and I barely scratched the surface with our conversation but she is one of the most colourful and interesting people I have met in a long while.  And as for her shop?  Oh my goodness!  It's packed to the rafters, literally.  It's completely disorganised and layered in dusty cobwebs but so totally fantastic!  Just take a look...

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And then there was the orange van!  By this stage it was nearing lunch time and we had planed to stop in Melrose for a bite to eat on our return trip.  That was still a little while away so I took a punt and grabbed some hot chips from the orange van.  Hands down, they were the best hot chips I've had for years, possibly ever!  And so I passed that compliment on to the two ladies and one gent as I ordered us a second lot!  The best things always come about in the most unlikely and unexpected places.  A 'new to me' denim jacket, a wonderfully rich conversation and a top-notch bucket (or two) of hot chips all in a washed out, almost abandoned old port town.  Oh, and The Crab Train with the Clawd and Clawdette carriages?  Umm I really don't know what to say about that except it gave me such a lot of humour that I had to take a photograph.

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The number of stone dwellings out this way is staggering.  Evidence that this area was an important settlement for the early pioneers.  I wanted to stop the car and photograph each and every one of them but the kids would have confiscated my camera!  They all spoke to me in one way or another, each bursting to share a piece of their story.  Most are in ruins, long abandoned, but some are inhabited regardless of their disrepair and a rare few look to have been lovingly restored. 

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So for now that is all, but tomorrow I'm going to bring you Part 2.  How about that!?!... Two blog posts in the one week!  Ha it's just like the old days ;)

Part 2 is all about Mount Remarkable National Park and our day of hiking!  It was spectacular, you won't want to miss those photos!  Read Southern Flinders Ranges - Part 2 here.

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Now for those links I mentioned earlier... Click

  • Here for a geological history on the Flinders Ranges and some of the Aboriginal legends.
  • Here for a list and details on the National Parks, Conservation Parks and Regional Reserves.
  • Here for tourist info on the Flinders Ranges and Outback.
  • Here for tourist info specifically focused on the Southern Flinders Ranges
  • and of course Wikipedia always offers something.
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