Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The power of pineapples


I am having a really tough time of late. I wrote about it in my last post. I feel like my heart is breaking, my soul is quaking and my entire sense of self worth is dissipating. Like that rhyme? Me neither really but I'm struggling with words at the moment. I'm struggling to be a parent, an aunt, a daughter and a blogger. The four things I love being the most.

I just want everyone to go away from me for a while so I can close up all the blinds in our apartment and watch episode after episode of great television, movie after movie and escape this stuff going on in my brain. I'd have comfy trackies and uggs on. Our couch would be arranged just so it was like a snug cave and I'd be enclosed in it covered with my duvet. By my side would be an endless supply of diet coke, coffee, homemade cookies and chocolate. I'd snooze on and off in between shows. There'd be no commitments, no texts buzzing, no emails. Just me, my remote control and my comfort food.

But, of course, life goes on. I took on board a lot of the advice given to me in my last post. For Noo's behaviour to improve the both of us need more structure to our lives. For my mood to improve I need to look after one child at a time. I felt terribly guilty about it at first but I've decided to put Noo into daycare on Tuesdays so he will now be attending four days a week. It will be an excellent warm up to the five days a week he will need to endure next year anyway. Plus I can't be a quality mum if I'm completely stressed out of my mind all the time. Choosing to put Noo in that extra day is a win/win for everyone really.

One of the areas of concern for me regarding both Noo's and my behaviour and our health is our diet. I've spoken at length before about my fussy eater and of my own weight issues. I've tried to understand why he has very little interest in food. He won't sit still long enough at the table to eat a whole meal, he only likes certain foods and then those certain foods can change all the time. It drives me insane!

I recently got involved in a campaign for Australian Pineapples. The offer of a session with well known nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan was too good to pass up. Dr Jo offered me some really great advice both in regards to my nutritional needs as well as for Noo.

Now I must admit that my slip back into depression (looks like my meds have stopped working effectively according to my GP and I'm seeing Shrink tomorrow to confirm) has really thrown me and I'm using chocolate as a way to get through it. I know you could call it self sabotage. I call it that! But my resistance is low as my mood swings from delicate in the morning through to full blown tears and woe in the afternoon.

My beautiful mum has stayed in the city with us for going on a month now. She is my confidant and my shoulder to wipe all the snot and tears on during the really awful episodes. She knows me so well and can see the cracks begin to appear on my psyche before I do. I really don't know how I'd survive sometimes if it wasn't for my mum!

Now back to pineapples. When my mum is here she makes sure we all eat properly. She doesn't do all the cooking but gives me friendly nudges to get me off my bum and into the kitchen. That coupled with some inspiring recipes from Dr Jo, as well as the winning entry for my giveaway from Claudia from Little Cottage Big Life, means we've had a few delicious and nutritous meals around here lately.

The first recipe came from Joanna McMillan.

Pineapple, Sweet Chicken and Chili Curry

Serves 4-6

Dr Jo's yummy pineapple, sweet chicken and chili curry

750g chicken breast or thigh, chopped
500ml coconut milk
1tbsp red curry paste
½ tsp fish sauce
3 kaffir lime leaves
½ fresh pineapple, diced
2 red chilies sliced (seeds removed if required)
2 chicken stock cubes

+ Serve with brown rice and steamed vegetables


1. Pour coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste and stock into pot and dissolve to creamy consistency.
2. Bring curry to the boil over medium heat.
3. Add chicken and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 mins.
4. Add pineapple, kaffir lime leaves and chilis.
5. Continue to cook over low-med heat for 15 min.

This is how my attempt at this recipe turned out:

My version

I embellished the recipe a bit. Actually, a fair bit. I think this is why I don't do diets very well. I'm always adding to the recipes. My mum, the retired chef, says it's the sign of a good cook!

For starters, I used thighs instead of breasts. So much tastier! I also browned them off a bit rather than solely poaching them. I also used way more curry paste. I didn't have any Thai red curry paste so I just chucked in half a jar of korma paste which was delicious. I put the paste in just after browning the chicken. Frying it off a bit brings out the flavour of the paste.

We had a lonely eggplant in the fridge so I chopped it up and added it early on before all the liquid went in to make sure it got that nice browned off look and taste.

I'm not a massive fan of the old stock cube. The stock you buy in the tetra pack is the goods for this sort of cooking and it is one of our cupboard staples that is always stocked up. I just whacked in enough til it looked and tasted right.

The fish sauce levels were upped a fair bit too. Fish sauce is the weirdest ingredient isn't it? Stinks in the bottle but brings out the flavour in so many Asian style dishes.

This time around I omitted the chili because I was hoping Mr Fussiest Eater in the Universe might try some. He didn't but oh well, I tried.

We had kaffir lime leaves in the fridge which was lucky because I'd forgotten to buy some when out that day. The pineapple came in last, but by no means least, because it was so delicious.

My mum was sceptical when I told her about the pineapple campaign because she said pineapple wasn't currently in season. It's a tropical fruit right? While we've had a mild Autumn here in Australia, it certainly hasn't been tropical. I've been really surprised by how yummy and juicy the pineapple we've been buying has been. Not to mention some of the other 'out of season' fruit I've bought over the last week or so: rockmellon, watermellon, strawberries, papaya and passionfruit. YUM!

As you can see from my picture, my curry was heavily garnished with corriander and chopped scallions, as my mum calls them, or green onions or shallots as Aussies usually refer to them as. We also had some steamed brocolini on the side.

All in all it was a delicious meal! I had some the following day for lunch as well and my dad, who came down from the Mountains for a couple of days, also got to try some of this delicous pineapple chicken curry and was really impressed.

Do you know what? If you've managed to read this far, my post has gone from sadness, to happiness about pineapple, and my mood has lifted. The power of pineapple? Or, most probably, the power of distraction!

If you want to check out more of Dr Joanna McMillan's pineapple recipes check out the Pineapple Australia's website. I'm going to do the Quinoa Salad with Pineapple and Corriander next. YUM!

Do you like fruit mixed with savoury dishes? 


PS. Thank you to all the lovely readers who entered my competition a couple of weeks ago. You had some awesome ideas for me. I can't wait to give sweet and sour pork a go. Also, I'm thinking I really need to try Kylie's mood lifter - dancing to 80s music in my undies sounds like something that could really help me right now!

Disclosure: I was given a free half hour session with Dr Joanna McMillan to discuss my nutrition issues as well as a $150 Woolworths gift voucher that was given away to one of my readers. No cash has exchanged hands. All opinions are my own in accordance with my disclosure policy.

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Trish said...

I got a consult with DR Joanna too and I love the pineapple recipes too.

Jodie Fisher said...

Great looking recipe Vanessa! It all seems like an uphill climb when you're feeling so low - so whether it's happiness or distraction relish the little moments & before too long there'll be more of them. said...

Jo was lovely, wasn't she! So warm and friendly. We are loving pineapple at the moment. If it wasn't for this campaign I wouldn't have even bought it this time of year. V. said...

Thanks Jodie. V.

Jeanie said...

That does look nice - I once had a fantastic cookbook (note to self - NEVER lend fantastic cookbooks to others - I once had several fantastic cookbooks I no longer have) that had a vegetarian pineapple curry in - there was also tamarind and pumpkin and shredded coconut and all sorts of other glorious things that on the page was "really??" but on the nose and in the mouth was "mmmmmm".. said...

I know what you mean about lending books. I had a general rule not to lend them but I don't have to worry about that much any more. All my books are electronic these days. For recipes I usually just search the web rather than buy the books! V. said...

It is delicious! Thanks for stopping by. V.

Jeanie said...

ah yes, but googling Anton Mossimo and Pineapple Curry brings out a vast array of non-recipe options.

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