Monthly Archives: April 2016

Fasta Pasta = Healthy Pasta

Big news today is that Mars Food, the makers of Dolmio and Uncle Bens pasta sauces and meal kits, is changing its labels in the UK to issue a warning that the sauces should only be consumed ‘occasionally’ because of the their high salt, sugar, and fat content. They do not say if this will extend to Australia, and other products by Mars Food.  But seriously … who buys this stuff when it’s easy-peasy to make your own.

Dolmio labels will soon be changing to read consume 'occasionally' instead of everyday. Image -

Dolmio labels will soon be changing to read consume ‘occasionally’ instead of everyday. Image –

We stopped using ready-made sauces years ago, and our favourite pasta sauce is simple fresh vine-ripened tomatoes with hint of garlic and chilli. Even better if your toms come from a nice organic market such as Capital Region Farmers Market (Saturday am) or Choku Bai Jo (North Lyneham and Curtin).

So check it out. We promise you’ll never go back to ready-made sauces!

Photo by LFW

Photo by LFW

What you need: 3 – 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 1 very small red chilli (optional), and a teeny drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

What you do: Cut your tomatoes in half and pop everything in your food processor and whiz until you get a nice thick sauce. How easy is that? If you don’t have a food processor, chop everything really finely and place in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir constantly (you don’t want it to burn) until it reduces to a nice sauce.

You can vary the sauce by including one or more of the following; a few fresh basil leaves, a couple of mushrooms, a few slices of red pepper, a couple of nice fat fresh olives from the deli, or a tablespoon of grated parmesan. However, we leave it up to people to put their own parmesan on so they can choose how much, or how little, cheese they want. Also best not to include if you’ve got dairy-free people popping round for pasta.

You can also use the basic sauce on your pizza bases.

Fresh and organic from Choku Bai Jo

Fresh and organic veggies from Choku Bai Jo

Eat fresh—eat healthy! Bon appetit!

Cooking Thai 101—Thai Fish Cakes

We’ve been a bit tardy with the Thai recipes (promised in December—yes, that long ago), but before we start, we’ll recap with a visit to our earlier post on Cooking Thai 101 where we outlined the basics you need in your kitchen before you start your adventure with cooking Thai food.

Thai fish cakes with hot sour sauce

Thai fish cakes with hot sour sauce (see recipe below)

One of our fave Thai foods is Thai Fish Cakes and part of our sojourn into authentic Thai cooking—with Silom Thai Cooking School—was to learn how to make them, and surprisingly, they’re not as tricky as you might think. So grab your ingredients and your wok or frypan and Let’s Cook Thai!

Thai Fish Cakes (serves 2 – 3)

What you need: 500 grams finely chopped white fish such as ling or mahi-mahi, or you can use salmon steaks, 5 kaffir lime leaves rolled and cut into thin strips, 1 tablespoon red curry paste, 1 teaspoon good quality Asian fish sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 long beans or large green beans thinly sliced on the diagonal, 1 egg, and oil for frying. We choose to shallow fry in coconut oil but any good quality vegetable oil will do.

What you do: In a large bowl mix all ingredients together by hand, then take two tablespoon of mixture and shape into small flat patties. Heat oil and fry patties until golden brown turning once. And that’s it! Serve with dipping sauce and a crisp Asian salad.

Thai fish cakes with crisp salad

Thai fish cakes with crisp salad


Thai chilli dipping sauce (well you can’t have Thai food without chillies, can you?)

What you need: 5 – 10 finely minced bird chillies (these are really HOT, so if you’re a Thai novice, start with 5 or 6 and be very careful when chopping, and don’t forget to scrub the chopping board in hot water afterwards!), 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, ½ cup good quality Asian fish sauce, 3 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice* (not out of a bottle), and 1 tablespoon refined brown sugar

What you do: Combine all ingredients together and mix well—this is best done in a jar with a sealed lid so you can give it a really good shake, then set aside for 10 minutes, then shake again. Repeat until the sugar has dissolved and store in the fridge. The sauce will keep for a couple of weeks.


Thai hot sour sauce

What you need: 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons hot chilli sauce (see above), 2 tablespoons crushed unsalted peanuts, and 2 small cucumbers peeled and sliced.

What you do: in a jar, mix together the vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, chilli sauce and peanuts and shake well. Pour into a small bowl and add the sliced cucumber. Serve immediately.

*And, here’s Awesome Jay’s tip on squeezing limes. Cut your limes in half and squeeze the lime while running it against the flat rim of a knife (not the sharp side) over a small bowl. The lime juice will run down the knife and into the bowl—voila, no mess, no lime pulp, and no lime all over your hands. Cool eh?


Recipes and tips courtesy Silom Thai Cooking SchoolCooking school

Lost and Found—a leap of faith with boyandgirlco

At first glance you don’t see the whales, but when you do—it’s pretty cool. Two of these graceful creatures feature on a new line of t-shirts being launched this month by Canberra’s boyandgirlco. By Wendy Johnson.

But these aren’t just any old t-shirts. These tees are special in many ways.

Can you see the whales?

Can you see the whales?

For starters, they’re part of boyandgirlco’s new social initiative called Lost and Found. Funds from sales go to women and children affected by economic domestic violence, to help them get a head start in their lives. The tees also feature original artwork by a local artist. And they’re produced to the highest of international ethical standards, which means the earth is respected and so too are the makers.

The founders of boyandgirlco, Anita and Carlo Krikowa, started Lost and Found as an extension of their work in giving back to the community—a philosophy they adopted from the get go with the business donating to Menslink and Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT.

Both experienced domestic violence and both want to keep on giving to the community. So they thought outside the square and started Lost and Found.

Anita says funds are channelled through the partnership with Domestic Violence Crisis Service Act so they get to the right people. “The priority is economic domestic violence which isn’t as well-known as other forms of domestic violence,” says Anita. “It’s when an abuser controls all the money in a relationship. It means the victim might have no access to bank accounts or an adequate allowance or even the money needed to get or hold down a job.”

The t-shirts are nothing short of wearable art, with the designs created by the resident artist at boyandgirlco, Canberra’s Katie McAuliffe, known affectionately as Bookie.

Models wearing boyandgirlco tees

Models wearing boyandgirlco tees

Bookie adores the animal kingdom and is known for creating art with a warm and fuzzy story book feel. boyandgirlco intend to create a new design each season. The inaugural tee features whales but you’ll need to take a close look before you see all that is truly before you.

boyandgirlco t-shirt’s are as ethically produced as you can get by Earth Positive Apparel. They’re made using 100 per cent organic cotton, 73 per cent recycled water and 90 per cent renewable energy. The workers who make them are protected by Fair Trade laws.

The women’s tee is stylish with a semi-scoop neckline and stitched rolled sleeves. The men’s tee is a classic crew neck. The cotton is super soft and will get softer over time with the right care. And each one comes with a tag made of recycled birch that you can use as a bookmark.140324 Boy&GirlCo-175 copy

boyandgirlco hasn’t just expanded the social good platform. They’ve expanded their business overall. They started out solely making sustainable furniture out of discarded pallets, but they’ve evolved into a lifestyle company that also makes homewares and clothing. Everything the company creates is unique, handcrafted and sustainable.

And, they’re out there participating in several community activities. This Friday, 8 April, they’ll be in Garema Place doing demonstrations on how to deconstruct a pallet and how to build at planter box at National Youth Week, run by the Youth Coalition of the ACT. The youth week festival runs from 2 to 7, and what’s more—it’s free.

Take a leap of faith with boyandgirlco

Take a leap of faith with boyandgirlco

boyandgirlco t-shirts are only available through Cardif Collective, Green Square Kingston (upstairs in the Cusack Centre) and through at $59.95.

Autumn 2016 ARF ChinWag out now!

Our latest issue of ChinWag is available now!

Our cover boy for this issue is cute little Lego. Lego came into care on 22 January aged eight weeks and was adopted into his new forever home on 13 February.

This issue is full of information on what to do if your dog picks up a grass seed, crate training, camping with dogs, and socialisation. Plus, lots more info and rescue stats, and lovely pics of our recently adopted pooches! Download your copy now from 

Chinwag 12016 Autumn

Rawspirations’ Inspiration!

If you think raw vegan and vegetarian dishes are boring, think again. Just looking at Sabrina Muscat’s recipes is enough to make you drool and convert forever. By Wendy Johnson

Sabrina runs Rawspirations, a website stuffed full of free delicious recipes and ideas on healthy living. Her Instagram account has a whopping 74,600 followers and grows every day. And she’ll launch her first recipe e-book featuring her sensational sweets this Saturday 9 April at the Divine Rawspirations High Tea Event.

Baked purple sweet potato and pumpkin

Baked purple sweet potato and pumpkin

Rawspirations’ ever-growing collection of savoury and sweet dishes are all organic and dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free. Some are baked and some are raw. This is food that looks and tastes amazing. Sabrina develops and trials all recipes, including her favourite baked purple, sweet potato wedges with smashed avocado, polenta and corn fritters, and rainbow sushi rolls.

For a little decadence in your life, Sabrina includes in her e-recipe book treats such as chewy caramel and choc custard cups, a choc mint slice, and a caramel slice that her family can’t get enough of. All of these desserts will be offered at the High Tea, along with mouth-watering raw and baked vegan and vegetarian buffet, organic wine, champagne and cold pressed juices.

For the High Tea, Sabrina is joining forces with Therese Kerr, voted one of Australia’s Top 50 Most Influential Women of 2015 and Organic Industry Leader of 2015. Therese owns The Divine Company, a line of certified organic beauty and personal care products.

Raw vegan choc-mint slice

Raw vegan choc-mint slice

Both Sabrina and Therese have had endometriosis, a major factor in their journey to live chemical-free lives. Endometriosis is where tissue from the membrane that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, typically on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines or other areas in the pelvis.

Sabrina’s story began many moons ago. She hadn’t been well and had almost given up on falling pregnant. In 2013, she sat shocked in her doctor’s office having been told she had Stage 4 endometriosis, a painful condition affecting between 25 and 50 per cent of infertile women.

“My endometriosis had spread through most of my organs and my doctor told me I had very little chance of ever falling pregnant,” said Sabrina. “It was suggested that I take a six-month course of a hormone therapy and type of chemotherapy, although there were no guarantees it would help me have a baby.”

Sabrina found some comfort by connecting with friends through Instagram. She ultimately chose not to go the treatment route but back to basics. “I decided to look at the underlying reasons my body wasn’t happy,” says Sabrina. “With support from my naturopath, I began to eat predominantly raw and vegan organic foods. Six months later I was pregnant and I had a beautiful baby boy.”

Chewy caramel and choc custard cups

Chewy caramel and choc custard cups

Both Sabrina and Therese will speak at the Divine Rawspirations High Tea Event. Sabrina, backed by her studies in ongoing studies in nutritional science and her skills as a fully qualified life coach, will talk about how easy it is to eat well without compromising on food variety, presentation or taste.

Sabrina and Therese will also explore why thyroid challenges and other hormone-related disorders are so common these days and why it can be so hard to lose those extra few kilos no matter how much effort goes into it. They’ll share insights on the impact of chemicals in every day food and other products, including beauty products. “I’m not a preacher and believe that what worked for me may not work for everyone,” says Sabrina. “But I felt my experience, and Rawspirations, could motivate others to think health eating and living.”

Raw white chocolate and blueberry mini cheesecakes

Raw white chocolate and blueberry mini cheesecakes

The Divine Rawspirations High Tea Event is being held at Double Shot, Deakin, on 9 April. Bookings are essential. It’s a seated event with a maximum 150 guests allowed. Tickets, including the High Tea itself, are $58. Book online:

Images of Sabrina Muscat by Margit Selg Photographer

Images of food by Sabrina Muscat


Trending Autumn with LFW!

A few essential items can take you anywhere this autumn, and you probably have them already in your wardrobe. By Aine Dowling

The leaves are falling; nights are cooling, and it’s time to start thinking about getting the boots and jumpers out of hibernation, and check what’s trending in autumn/winter fashion. At a recent Get Your Style On event we were inspired by style guru and amazing presenter, Trish Murray, on autumn essentials and how to ramp up your wardrobe. And the best thing? You don’t need to take out a mortgage to look the part. With some savvy shopping, you can look like a million dollars without the spend! Check out our pics and Get the Look!

Crop jackets

Crop jackets

Dark jeans, long tops, and a little crop jacket

Dark blue stretch jeans are definitely an item. Wear them rolled up for a casual look, or full length with cute little ankle boots for a more dressy date, and colder weather—just make sure they’re the perfect fit.

Cute ankle boots with jeans

Dark blue stretch jeans

Long sleeveless tops (that cover your butt) look great with jeans and there’s a gazillion styles to choose from. Choose one with some shape that’s not too loose and bulky, and top it with a cropped jacket; one that sits just above or on the waist so the bottom of the top is showing. Stripes are also making a comeback in tops, as is the sleeveless turtle neck. Your little crop jacket can be plain, with or without a collar, or with stylish zip (or other hardware) features. Finish with a tote-bag for casual daytime, or a nice clutch for a great smart casual look.

The pencil skirt

A pencil skirt goes with anything. Wear it short with opaque tights and flats or ankle boots, or on the knee with full length boots or a heel. If you go for black, top it with some colour, you don’t want to look funereal, and many people just don’t like the all black look. A peplum top hides a tummy, while your shaped long top or tunic covers the hips and gives a longer line.

Pencil skirt worn with crop jacket and ankle boots

Pencil skirt worn with crop jacket and ankle boots

The boots

For style, comfort, and warmth, you can’t beat a good boot. Ankle boots are great with jeans and skirts, and long boots look terrific with short or long skirts and dresses. So many styles and colours to mix and match with—just don’t wear suede in the rain.

Cute ankle boots with buckle detail

Cute ankle boots with buckle detail

The coat

As mentioned in our earlier post In the Trench, the Trench Coat is back! But, so is colour! Short or long, trench or not, look bright and cheerful in bright blue, forest green, burnt orange, plum, and bright red, or stay true to classic navy or camel. Pea coats, duffle coats, and trench ties or double-breasted will also be seen this autumn.

Winter coats: l-r Duffle, Pea, and military style

Winter coats: l-r Duffle, Pea, and military style

and finally … Scarves

Scarves are back—did they ever leave? This autumn/winter sees the arrival of the blanket scarf. A large warm square that can be worn rolled as a scarf or open as a shawl. Don’t underestimate the blanket in its name … round the shoulders, over the knees, as a poncho … you’re only limited by your imagination! And at the end of the season you can use it as a picnic blanket, dog blanket, sofa or bed throw or whatever!

How to wear the blanket scarf. Image by LFW

How to wear the blanket scarf. Image by LFW

Thanks to Trish Murray, and Roundhouse Hotel Group, Premier Hotel and Apartments, Belconnen