Friday, March 29, 2013


Today is Day Five of Passover, a Jewish festival which celebrates the exodus from Egypt. While our Christian - and atheist - family and friends are enjoying Hot Cross buns and Easter eggs, we're enduring matzah, an unleavened bread eaten at this time of year.

We eat matzah to remember the slavery, not only of our own people, but that there are still people in the world today who are not free. We don't just focus on the sadness of slavery, however, but the joy of freedom and liberation. During Passover, there are five grains that are forbidden: wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats. If it's used to make matzah it's okay but that's all. Some people take it further, some less; in our family we simply avoid those grains and all products using them. Apart from matzah, which is wheat based, this puts us on a gluten free diet for a week.

I'm tall and thin and don't eat red meat. I'm constantly hungry at the best of times and really rely on healthy carbs. That being the case I find Passover difficult. But that's a good thing. I want to be reminded that I'm fortunate and free and live a wonderful and blessed life. I want to be reminded that others don't so I don't forget to be grateful and do what I can to help.

It isn't just people who are less fortunate socio-economically that I'm reminded of. Two of my best friends and one of my nieces suffer from coeliac disease. This means they have to be on a gluten free diet all the time. My niece was around two when she was diagnosed so has only known a gluten free diet but my two friends were into middle-age. That's quite an adjustment to make. Each year, at this time, I'm reminded that I'm also fortunate not to have to limit my diet and that - touch wood - my health is only contingent on good nutrition, not a special diet.

Unlike the poorest of the world who struggle to eat and my two friends and niece, when the sun sets on Monday I can return to a gluten filled life. Furthermore, I'm happy not to touch another piece of matzah until next Passover. First stop Tuesday morning is the supermarket to buy up big on all those Hot Cross buns on sale!

Chag Sameach/Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Healthy Footprints

I mentioned a while ago that I subscribe to a magazine on a monthly basis which I plan to discontinue when my subscription runs out. The magazine is Good Health because I'm a sucker for all things health related. When our crappy Sunday paper, The Sunday Mail - which we buy for the TV guide - arrives I grab the "Body & Soul" section to read all the articles on health. My passion is nutrition. If I'd only been able to understand Physiology I'd be a Nutritionist now.

When I was reading the articles in "Body & Soul" the other day and rehashed, yet again, what are the right foods to eat and how much one should be exercising on a daily basis, it occurred to me that Footprints goes a long way towards putting us on the right track.

The more highly packaged and processed a food is, the more likely it is to be manufactured by a large multi-national company. In fact, the best way to buy food for Footprints is to buy as locally, as fresh and as unprocessed as possible. It just so happens that buying food that way is helpful in preventing us buying unhealthy foods, as well. Furthermore, we try not to buy foods which are overly packaged. Therefore, we tend to fill our pantry with staple foods instead of processed food. Husband and I visit a naturopath regularly and I don't think it's an accident that, since we've been doing this, our health has shown visible improvement.

Exercise is an area where we tend to let ourselves down. In theory, Footprints is also good for that. In theory, we should be walking and taking public transport much more than we're doing. Husband has been working hard in the veggie patch and getting out there and planting, pruning and weeding. It's a gentle form of exercise but a movement he wasn't getting before. It all adds up.

Chag Sameach and Happy Easter.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spoilt for Flavour

I went out to lunch with my sister earlier in the week. The company was lovely but the waiting staff great. That's where it ended. The food took forever to come out. That happens sometimes when places are busy. It wasn't. My biggest complaint was the food, however. I ordered a dip platter which came with three dips and some pita bread.

I managed to distinguish tzatziki as being one of the dips. It was really tasty. The other two, however, were insipid and flavourless; I couldn't even tell you what the flavour was supposed to be. I realise that our lifestyle is somewhat to blame for me being so critical. We've had a bumper crop of eggplant this summer and several have made it into really kick-ass babaganoush. That would be hard for anyone to top. I buy dips off the shelf at the supermarket, as well. The only brand of dips that is unethical is Philadelphia; that leaves a lot. Neither of the other dips on my plate even came close to a good Yumi or Gaganis brand dip by any means. Perhaps they should have used one of those from the nearby supermarket!!!

The place we ate was your average run of the mill cafe. I eat at those places quite often; there's usually something for everyone on the menu. I'm not used to fine dining but I am used to good, fresh, tasty food. Most of the cafes I go to get it right. This one didn't. At least, not with the dips. My sister's pasta looked and smelt good.

I'm actually not bothered by this because I like the fact that the produce from our garden is really tasty and that I'm used to eating at places that use fresh, local produce. I like the fact that the food I usually eat is really good so I can ascertain the bad. In short, we've been spoilt.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Footprints as a Weapon??? You've Got to be Joking.

We live quite far out of the CBD. Of course, the further into the suburbs you go, the worse public transport is. We know that and we've always been prepared to drive our children places. We do it a lot and the older they've gotten, the more we've done it. Sometimes we do it generously, sometimes grudgingly. (We're only human.)

Over the years, we've established good reciprocal relationships with other families and have shared the driving. It's great when that happens. Every so often, we've developed relationships where we've slowly but surely been put upon. Maybe it's an oversight; maybe it's deliberate. I don't think the people involved are mean-spirited by any means so I would think it's just an oversight. I don't like kids to be left out or stranded so I've given rides many a time to other people's children. In a sense, I've become a "helicopter mum" not just to mine but to several. Most of the time, it all works out well and they'd do the same for my kids.

The other day, I mentioned to one of the children that I thought a particular friend was taking advantage and some better organisation and reciprocity would be appreciated. Said child nodded and seemed to agree and I thought the matter closed. I was wrong.

The following day we were discussing, as a family, the logistics of getting the children and their friends to the WOMAD Festival (World Music and Dance) over the weekend. Above-mentioned child announced that they thought we shouldn't go out of our way to pick up other child's friend. They said it was taking advantage of us. This particular friend's parents are super helpful when it comes to rides I might mention. Said child then went on to throw Footprints in my face by saying that it would be better for the environment if other child's friend could get a ride from geographically closer friends. Excuse me? Footprints as a weapon? You've got to be joking! Said child has never seen the environment as an issue when it comes to giving their friends rides.

Environmentally, it would be better. However, we had already made a commitment to other child's friend's parents and didn't want to renege. To quote Husband, "why shit in our own nest?"

Am I being cynical thinking that said child is throwing it in my face? Not really. If said child was an environmental die-hard who had always shown such passion I wouldn't think it was a personal attack. They, however, are not.

Perhaps I haven't made myself clear enough. Footprints stems from a sense of wanting to respect other people and the environment. Sometimes, however, one takes precedence over the other. It is not and never should be a weapon. Furthermore, it stems from a sense of gratitude, not entitlement and, from a parental point of view, I'm not sure that I've taught that lesson very well, if at all.