Health, Food and Good Living Tips

Growing up in Zimbabwe, which is in the southern part of Africa, I have always had access to fresh organic produce, vibrant in colour and bursting in full flavours and taste. I began to appreciate food from an early age. I still remember myself waking up early during summer holiday at the age of 9 years and running out the house into the back garden with a colander bowl in my hand. I stood in our back garden which was full of fruit trees and fresh vegetables and began to admire the beauty of all these fresh delights before my eyes. With the sun beating down on me I began to climb my favourite tree- the mango tree. Excited like an explorer that had just found treasures I began to pick the best of the bestest of mangoes. The colours of each mango captivated my mind and as I began to bite into the flesh with juices oozing down the sides of my mouth, that's where I truly fell in love with good fresh produce and all it's goodness. I appreciated each vegetable and fruit in our garden from lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, peas, green beans, butter beans, collard greens also known as muriwo.

In our family home girls were introduced to cooking at an early age, as early as 9 years. I found it to be a pleasure and not a chore. Standing by the pots and cooking my first curries, I stepped into the world of spices and was introduced to the chemistry behind mixing different spices at certain temperatures to enhance flavours of meat and veg. Even though my kitchen boasts of a cupboard full of spices from around the world, I still find myself fascinated by their potential and want to discover more versatile ways to use them.

When I became a mother and a wife I was faced with a word called BUDGET!!! yes the dreaded word that seems to have us all on the end of a shoe string and clipping our creative wings. I soon learnt to improvise and substitute recipes. The greatest challenge for me was to keep high standards of cooking at low costs. I learnt how to take cheap cuts of meat and turn them into something flavoursome and exciting. I also learnt to "recycle" i.e. using leftovers (LO's as we call them in our house) to create a whole new meal. My pantry became my best friend as I learnt to only stock essentials with long shelf life and dry food stuff that can be used in many dishes not just one. I DO NOT buy ready made sauces or meals other then the odd pizza. I find them full of  artificial preservative and artificial food colourings and flavours. As a parent you want your kids to have nutritional meals so I try to make sure they get their full 5 a day.

You would think that would sum it up.. but no in 2003 my middle daughter had a full anaphylatic shock reaction to baked beans.. Yes you heard baked beans. She was diagnosed with allergies and has had several anaphylatic episodes to various other foods requiring hospitalization. In 2005 my youngest daughter also had anaphalatic shock to fish. So in a nutshell they are on a egg, dairy,peanut, beans, lentils, pulse, kiwi, strawberry, cashew,hazelnut,walnut free diet. Living with kids with this condition can be hard but we have managed to work around them and try and give them a full healthy diet that won't put them at risk in any way. Anaphylaxis is is life threatening and should never be taken lightly. As I am the one who prepares most of the household meals, I am always extra cautious in what produce I buy, where I buy it from and is it traceable. Also cross contamination and hygiene are two key factors in keeping my kids and family safe. I have managed to adapt and change recipes around to suit my girls problems. Most of the free from products I buy are from TESCO - they are also very good in ordering in stuff and sourcing new products.

I hope my story will inspire you to think healthy, and to think DIY (do it yourself). I hope it inspires you that there are no limitations to eating good food because you have allergies. I hope it inspires you to inspire your family and friends to live better and healthier lives. I believe all foods are healthy but when eaten sensibly and in portion controlled sizes.

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