Chocolate that is good for you!

Chocolate that is good for you!

Don’t get me wrong, I love a little bit of chocolate, but I’m not a huge fan….like some people!  If I do eat store bought chocolate it is usually Whittakers 75% cocoa or a similar brand with a high cocoa blend.  I cannot stand to eat normal dairy milk chocolate, just doesn’t do anything for me.

Anyways, a while ago I came across a recipe for making your own chocolate, at home, out of all natural, good for you ingredients.  No additives.  No sugar.  No dairy.  And it tastes delicious.

Over time I have experimented with different flavours.  The original recipe I used was vanilla flavoured.  Now in my pantry I have peppermint, orange, and recently coffee.  All natural flavours.  Not essences as such, but flavourings.  Most of them you can pick up at the supermarket or your local health store.

And the bonus, it takes about 5 – 10 minutes to make a batch of chocolate, and then maybe an hour or so to freeze it to set.  I have found these need to be kept in the freezer as they melt easily.  Even in the fridge.  But what is more delicious than a small piece of frozen goodness melting in your mouth?  I ask you that.

 

 

Good for you chocolate!

Here is a great recipe for some good for you chocolate. Made from all natural ingredients. It is super simple to put together and tastes devine. Real melt in your mouth chocolate.

  • 1/2 cup Coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa or Cocao powder (Make sure this is as good quality as you can get or afford.)
  • 3 tablespoons Honey
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspooon Vanilla (or alternatively substitute with your own flavour)
  1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan.
  2. Heat on a medium to low heat. Whisk until all ingredients have melted and combined.
  3. Pour into your favourite moulds or into a flat tray.
  4. Place in freezer until set.
  5. Enjoy!
For the flavouring you can substitute with any natural flavouring.  It is ok to use essences but I prefer to use a natural flavour.  Judge your own taste as to how much you use.  Some flavours are quite strong so I only use 1/2 teaspoon, some flavours need a little extra.

 

Chemotherapy – the first round!

I had been programmed in to have 8 rounds of chemotherapy.  Each round is 3 weeks long.  This consists of one morning attending the Cancer Care clinic for my infusion of Oxaliplatin, then two weeks of tablets at home, then a week off.  I was happy with that!  Seemed easy!

Until the first round!

I attended the clinic as I was supposed to.  The way your chemo dose is measured is by body weight and mass.  Being my first treatment I received the full dose that was made for me.  Before receiving each infusion I had to take Dexamethasone and Ondansatron.  The Ondansatron I had no problems with, it’s anti-nausea.  I had plenty during my hospital stay.  Dexamethasone is a steroid.  I had lots of problems with this (although I didn’t know that until a few days later).

So, I have my infusion.  My eyes go all funny and I feel like crap.  Long drive home.  Feeling like crap!  I wonder if this is what each treatment is going to feel like!

That night, I went to bed.  Feeling like crap!  Couldn’t sleep for the life of me.  My eyes wouldn’t shut! I was wide awake most of the night!  Tried napping during the day but that didn’t happen either.  The next night, Thursday night, rolls around!  Went to bed!  Couldn’t sleep again.

Friday comes by and I try to sleep.  Feeling like crap!  Can’t eat! Don’t know if I’m Arthur or Marther.  Wondering what is happening to me!  Crying that I can’t sleep!  That I feel like crap! That something is happening to me and I don’t know what it is!

Phoned my Cancer Care nurse!  She advised I needed sleeping tablets.  It’s 8.30pm on a Friday night.  I live in a small rural town!  Well, by share will and good luck and kind heartedness, a local pharmacist offered to open up so my husband could go and get some sleeping tablets that were prescribed and sent through by my Oncologist.  Sleep!  I needed that!

Saturday rolls around.  Friday morning was my last dose of Dexamethasone.  I’d had a good sleep on Friday night.  Saturday morning and I’m still not sure what is happening.  I lay on the couch all day.  Like, I only move to go to the toilet and that is it!  I can’t move!  Everything feels weird!  I’m not sure if I’ve got nausea!  I’m not sure when I last ate food!  A bowl of cereal every now and then seems to be helping.

Saturday night sees me sleeping all night!  Thanks to the sleeping tablets!  Sunday!  Another day!  Today I learn that I’m having a steroid withdrawal.  It’s not pretty!  I wonder why people take these things as a recreational drug!  The withdrawal is awful.  I can’t say anything nice to anyone!  I know it’s not me talking but everything that comes out of my mouth is nasty!  And then comes the bad thoughts!

The deep nasty side of steroid withdrawal that no one ever talks about.  The wanting to end it all because it just feels so bad! Like life has nothing left in it for you!  The “I just want it all to be over” thoughts!   It’s not pretty.

Sunday afternoon.  Ring my Cancer Care nurse as I have left elbow pain!  It’s quite bad!  She advises it’s all ok.  Just a chemo side effect and to ring back if the pain moves.  Pain moves to my left shoulder.  Ring my Cancer Care Nurse.  She calls Oncologist who advises I need to go to A & E and have an ECG.  The Capecitabine can mimic a heart attack!  Great! Just what I needed!  After a few hours there it was home again! All was fine with my ticker!

Sunday night sees me sleeping well again.  Thanks to the sleeping tablets.

Monday.  Well, I could now fill a swimming pool with tears!  I don’t know where they come from!  They just keep coming!  All day! And all night! And on Tuesday they keep coming!  All day!  Steroid withdrawal is so nasty.

Wednesday I wake up and all is normal in the world!  I feel wonderful!  Steroid withdrawal is just a nasty nasty side effect from Chemo.  Along with all the other side effects I was getting, this was just the straw that broke the camels back.  I was not going to do another round of chemo.  I was not going back to the hospital.  That was it!  It was all over!  I gave it a go and it turned into the most evil place, what I would call the equivalent to hell, and I was never going back there again.

But I did go back!  After great discussion and persuasion, my oncologist and I agreed we would lessen the dose of steroids and halve the dose of Oxaliplatin (intravenous chemo) and see what happened next round! Compromise!

So, that was round 1 of Chemo in a nutshell!  It was one of the worst experiences of my life and has left me wondering why people take drugs like steroids as a recreational habit!  Is it for the high!  I don’t know! But I do know that if I ever need them again I will always ask if there is an alternative.

Until next time…keep smiling, it helps the world spin!

R xx

 

 

After surgery but before chemotherapy!

After surgery but before chemotherapy!

Chemotherapy isn’t all that bad…..but in some cases it is the worst thing ever.  I’m lucky in that I am only having chemotherapy as a precaution in case the surgeon left something behind (which he is sure he didn’t), but we will never know.

My Tumour!

sigmoid-colon

The tumour taken out of my sigmoid colon, basically not far inside, around the first bend and it was on the second bend, was classed as stage 3c.  I had lymph node involvement and they had to take out one of my fallopian tubes as it was stuck to the tumour.  Sounds bad!  But I’m lucky! It was only stage 3 (stage 4 is the worst).  Although they took out some infected nodes, it hadn’t metastised to anywhere else!  whew!

So, at this stage I’m unsure of the actual size of the tumour but 30cm of my large intestine was removed.  It’s ok!  You have about 1.2 metres, so I can do without 30cm.  And I was one of the extremely lucky ones who’s surgeon was able to staple the two ends of the large intestine back together without the need for an illiostomy.

Port-a-cath

After recovering from surgery for two weeks I met my oncologist.  At this stage I was perplexed as to why everything was happening so fast.  He talked me through everything, and wanted to start my chemo the following week!  I left this appointment a bit dumbfounded.  Had a huge meltdown.  Saw my oncologist again with a list of questions and decided the best course of action was to go ahead with the port-a-cath insertion that week as planned and start chemo the following week.  All good.

So, a port-a-cath is basically an artificial vein that is inserted into the region, normally on the right hand side, just below the shoulder.  This is done under local anaesthetic…….so I was awake the whole time!  I don’t like being awake in these situations.  Luckily, a nurse recognised I was a bit edgy and she lovingly held my hand throughout the whole procedure (like it only took probably 10 minutes to insert it, but it was all the other stuff before hand too.)

This is what a port-a-cath looks like:

port-a-cath

So, the port vein runs through my body, passes beside the heart and into a major vein so treatment is easily given.  When needed, there is a small needle that is inserted into the port, with an external line so any medication can be given.

This device is used so as I don’t need to fitted with an external canular every time I needed intravenous chemotherapy.  The chemo itself is very hard on the veins, and often causes them to collapse.  Also, it means when I needed intravenous chemotherapy I could have my dose over 2 hours as it was directly into the body through a port-a-cath, otherwise, if through a cannular in the hand, it would be 4 – 6 hours.  I couldn’t bear sitting there that long…..and intravenous chemo makes me pee.  Too much.  Like 4 times in the 2 hours I am at the hospital.

Chemotherapy and the different options!

For bowel cancer there is basically two options you are given for chemotherapy.  Yes, I know there are many other treatments out there, and I ran every single one of them past my Oncologist trying to avoid having chemo, but basically none of the new treatments have been tested successfully on bowel cancer.

So, back to the two options.  The is what is called FOLFOX and CAPOX.  FOLFOX is a combination of Oxaliplatin and Folinic Acid…together these make FOLFOX.  FOLFOX (which was my first choice before I changed my mind (womans perogative)) is administered over a 2 day process.  The first day you attend the Cancer Clinic, have your Oxaliplatin given through the IV line into your port-a-cath, then you are attached to a bulb type thing for 2 days which slowly administers the Folinic Acid into your system.  FOLFOX is a 2 week treatment cycle.

CAPOX is similar but different.  CAPOX IS Capecitabine and Oxaliplatin.  This is a 3 week treatment cycle where on the first day you go to the Cancer Clinic and get your Oxaliplatin administered intravenouosly through your port-a-cath, then you are sent home with Capecitabine, which is 14 days worth of tablets.  So basically you are taking chemotherapy for 2 weeks then having a week off.

I chose the CAPOX treatment as this worked out better for me, my family, and it didn’t mean an extra trip out as only the cancer nurse or some district nurses can take the bulb off.

So, there you have it, a real quick run down on chemotherapy.  My treatment is for 24 weeks all up.  8 rounds of chemotherapy.

Tune in next update…..I let you know about my first week on chemotherapy….the week I went to hell and back and somewhere inbetween that I never ever want to experience again.  Chemotherapy has its good points and is very helpful…..but there is also a very dark side to it!

Until next time…..

R xx

Hummus – a taste of Turkey!

Hummus – a taste of Turkey!

Six years ago my husband and I were lucky enough to travel around Turkey for 15 days.  We experienced such a lovely culture, as well as their food.  Hummus being one of the beautiful tastes we will never forget.

And then again, last year, 2015, we were extra lucky enough to be able to head to the 100 year centenary at Gallipoli.  What an amazing experience.  Once again we were able to sample wonderful Turkish cuisine.  Once again we came home ready to replicate some of what we ate!  This is never easy, but with a lot of trial and taste testing sometimes you just hit the mark and say YES!  I’ve done it!

Finally, after 6 years of trying, 2 trips to Turkey, and numerous visits to Turkish eateries around NZ, a lot of recipe research and reading, I have perfected my hummus recipe.

Please enjoy this as much as I do, and please let me know if you love it.  Leave a comment here or you can leave your wonderful comments on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

Hummus – a taste of Turkey!

After travelling around Turkey and experiencing the taste of traditional hummus, I have finally found and perfected the Taste of Turkey as I remember it, real hummus. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as me.

  • 1 can Chick Peas (drained and washed)
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1-2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste (use sea salt if available)
  1. Using your food processor , blend the chickpeas until they resemble a thick paste.
  2. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Blend until all mixed. You may need to scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure all ingredients get combined.
  4. Add 2 tbsp yogurt.
  5. Blend. Taste.
  6. This is where, if needed, I add another 1 tbsp Olive Oil, some more salt, or maybe more lemon juice.
  7. Blend. Taste. Decide if anything more is needed, normally it is fine to eat now. Enjoy.
This recipe was found at www.reneewrites.net

Please visit for more exciting recipes, food adventures and travel stories.

 

Inflight Feed: Air NZ Flight NZ125 – Auckland to Melbourne

Inflight Feed: Air NZ Flight NZ125 – Auckland to Melbourne

inflight-food-2

Flight NZ125 – Air NZ – Auckland to Melbourne!

As previously mentioned, we flew from Auckland to Melbourne on flight NZ125.  This was an amazing experience as we were upgraded to Premium Econcomy!  Huge bonus!  Huge surprise!  So…..what else would you like to know but what the inflight feed was like.

Having travelled for years in economy, and mainly between NZ and Australia, there hasn’t been much option for inflight food as it is quite overpriced, and never what you feel like, plus most of our flights are around 3 – 4 hours, so no need for anything to eat!  Unless you are travelling with the child, then he has to eat for the whole flight…..

Right, back to this flight!  When we checked in we knew we had meals, but what we didn’t know was it was actually a 3 course meal, served with proper plates, and proper cutlery, and proper napkins.  It was like restaurant dining 30,000 feet in the air.

The Entree!

air nz 125 entree

So, we learnt a few things here.  Your tray is delivered with entree and desert, cheese and crackers.  The entree was a beautiful Samon gravlax with cucumber and quinoa salad.  Wow!  Never had inflight food this good!  It was so delicious….beautifully presented.  Next, before the main, was a selection of bread rolls from the bakery!

Bread from the bakery!

bread and oil

The selection was amazing.  There was purple wheat rolls, garlic bread, sourdough loaf and dark rye bread.  And the service was not only once, but many times.  Also, you got this petite bottle of The Village Press olive oil to have with your bread.  Devine!  I love The Village Press!  (I spent some time trying to work out how I could take a bottle of this home as it was just so cute).

Next was the main.  Of course, like all full service airlines, there was a selection.  We had to choose between prawns, pork belly or chicken.  As I’m fairly fussy about certain foods when I’m not cooking it (mainly seafood and chicken), I chose the pork belly.  The other half chose the chicken.

The Main Course!

airnz 125 pork belly

OMG! The pork belly was just devine.  On the menu it is described as “Slow roasted port belly with caramelised red cabbage, mustard seed mash, sage and onion relish with apple cider jus”.  Well, all that was a bit fancy pants for me, but it was just so yummy.  Fine dining again at 30,000 feet.  I’m not sure how it is done, but every meal was just perfect.  There was not to much, and not too little that you were left feeling hungry.  It was the right balance to keep you wanting more, but feeling satisfied at the same time.

Dessert!

To finish the menu there was Kaffir lime and coconut panna cotta with mango and goji berry compote.  This is what started my journey with panna cotta.  I’d seen it on the likes of masterchef and My kitchen rules many a time but it all looked to complicated and maybe a bit to fancy for me.  But, after trying this, while shopping in Melbourne I bought myself some panna cotta moulds and have tried it once.  Once with success.  I’m surprised how easy it was.

So, to conclude, if you can get an upgrade to premium economy, the meal alone is worth it!  Now, onto working out how we can travel in premium economy all the time.  Well, for the majority of long haul flights……

Until next time

R xx

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