Saturday, January 6, 2024

My weight-loss results after three months on Carnivore/Ketovore

In a surprise twist for this garden-loving girl, I've been eating a meat-based diet since the end of September 2023.

Several people had mentioned how a Carnivore diet was helping them reduce inflammation, reverse auto-immune disorders, and lose weight. So in the September school holidays, I went down the rabbit hole of researching the diet for myself. I read several books on the topic, and also watched YouTube videos about the subject. Laura Spath's YouTube videos were particularly encouraging and motivating to me. I can really relate to her journey. 

Ultimately, I had two main reasons for wanting to try the Carnivore diet:

The first was to reduce inflammation. I had been getting frequent migraines, as well as neck and shoulder pain that was waking me up multiple times of night. Those problems have vastly reduced since going meat-based. 

The second reason was to lose weight. Despite trying to eat well most of the time, my weight kept increasing. I was getting quite despairing about it. In three months on the Carnivore diet, I've managed to lose 9 kg and feel so much better in my own skin. 

Initially I thought I'd try the Carnivore/Ketovore diet for just three months, but it's working so well, I'm going to keep eating this way for the foreseeable future. 

The main things I love about it are that it's so simple and satiating. I don't have to spend much time thinking about what I'm going to eat every day, and I don't get as hungry as I used to. Meat is so nutrient-dense, it leaves me full for hours. 

So what am I eating? 

I'm not strictly Carnivore/animal-based, but mostly. I do let myself have berries, avocados, and the occasional nectarine, as well as stevia/erythritol-sweetened keto desserts/hot chocolates. Apart from that, I eat:

  • Beef - mostly steak (my wonderful husband cooks this for me on his charcoal BBQ)
  • Lamb shoulders (and the marrow)
  • Chicken - preferably skin-on
  • Bone broth
  • Pork rinds (chip substitute)
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Greek yoghurt mixed with collagen powder, whey protein powder, and electrolytes
  • Jelly (sweetened with stevia/erythritol)
  • Salt - I liberally sprinkle salt on everything, to keep my electrolytes up
I thought I'd get bored eating this way, but I actually really enjoy it. When your food is so satisfying, it's hard to get tired of it. 

So that's been my experience of the Carnivore diet, which is not to be construed as medical advice. 

I'd love to hear any thoughts and questions you have about it. 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Low-carb layered strawberry, mascarpone & pistachio dessert

This stunning layered dessert was inspired by Eleanor Cripps' recipe. I took her clever concept and created a low-carb version to serve during the Christmas season. The result is a delightfully decadent explosion of textures and flavours that will wow even your carb-eating friends. 


Strawberry layer:

  • 4 cups of strawberries, sliced
  • 2Tbsp Natvia/Truvia (or other low-carb sweetener)
Mascarpone layer:
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 150mL cream
  • 2Tbsp Natvia/Truvia (or other low-carb sweetener of your choice)
  • 4Tbsp vanilla paste (or to taste)
  • Pistachio layer:
  • 1 cup ground pistachios (or 100g slivered almonds)


  1. Slice the strawberries, stir through the low-carb sweetener, and spread it out in the the bottom of a rectangular or oval glass dish. (I stirred the strawberries and sweetener together directly in the glass dish, to save on washing up.)
  2. Mix together the mascarpone, cream, low-carb sweetener and vanilla paste until well-combined, and spread over the strawberry layer.
  3. Grind up pistachios and sprinkle them over the mascarpone layer. For a more economical alternative, you can sprinkle a light dusting of slivered almonds over the top, instead of the pistachios. 

Serve chilled and enjoy! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

$160 budget 7-day menu plan for a family of 5

With grocery prices on the rise, I thought I would try my hand at putting together a budget 7-day menu plan for a family of 5. I've based my prices off of Countdown this week, since those prices are consistent around New Zealand. I used pumpkin as key ingredient for the week's menu, so if you were able to get it cheaper somewhere other than Countdown, you could create more wiggle room in your budget for other items. 

I haven't tested this menu plan on my family, because of special dietary requirements we have, so I'm unsure how it would play out in reality, but I'm hoping it will be useful to you for ideas at the very least. 

Shopping list

Nature's Fresh toast bread 700g x2: $3.50 x2 = $7 (Countdown was sold out of cheaper bread)

Farmer Brown 20-pack eggs size 6: $10.50

Essentials crunchy peanut butter 375g: $2.70

Countdown whole chicken 1.9kg: $17.50

The Odd Bunch onions 1.5kg: $4.50

Pumpkin: $14ea

Fresh brushed Agria potatoes 1KG: $4.99

The Odd Bunch carrots 1.5kg: $4

Red cabbage half: $4.99

Royal Gala apples 2KG: $7

Countdown frozen peas 1kg: $3.30

McKenzies pearl barley 500g: $2.20

Countdown frozen mixed vegetables 1kg: $3

Countdown essential tortillas 15-pack: $4.50

Essentials coconut cream 400ml x2: $1.50 x2 = $3

Sun Valley brown lentils 500g: $3.20

Essentials long grain rice 1kg: $2.40

Select garam masala 29g: $2.50

Countdown diced tomatoes w/ Italian basil & oregano 400g: $1.30

Countdown rolled oats 750g: $3

Greggs ground cinnamon 30g: $3

Essentials mini dark chocolate chips 250g: $1.50

Countdown 390g sweetened condensed milk: $3

Countdown plain flour 1.5kg: $2.50

Tasti Yeast Active Dried 130g: $5.50

Chelsea white sugar: 1.5kg: $2.90

Hansells imitation vanilla essence 125ml: $1.99

Hansells baking powder 150g: $2.80

Countdown butter 500g: $4.90

Countdown NZ beef mince 500g: $8.90

Countdown tomato sauce 500ml: $2.80

Countdown garlic mayonnaise 250ml: $3.50

Golden Sun sliced gherkins 680g: $3

Countdown sunflower oil 500ml: $4

Pop N Good popping corn 500g: $3.30

TOTAL: $159.17

Menu plan


Breakfast: Fried eggs on toast with butter (1 egg and piece of toast per person)

Lunch: Peanut butter sandwiches, apples, carrot sticks, chocolate chunk oat cookies.

Dinner: Roast chicken (stuffed with 1 peeled onion), gravy (made with the chicken juices, flour and pea cooking water), roast pumpkin, 500g roast potatoes, cooked peas, and 1 sliced and cooked carrot.


  1. Roast the pumpkin and serve 1/4 of it with this dinner. (Save one quarter of the roast pumpkin for the lentil curry, one quarter for the pumpkin soup, and one quarter to blend into 2 cups of pumpkin puree to make the pumpkin bread.)
  2. Save half of the cooked chicken meat for future lunches
  3. Throw the bones of the chicken carcass into a large pot covered with 5L water to make chicken stock for the chicken soup, pumpkin soup, and brown lentil curry dinners. You can add carrot and onion peels/ends to the pot too. Simmer for 6 hours, strain the liquid into ice cream containers and refrigerate until needed. 


Breakfast: Apple cinnamon porridge (quadruple the recipe and use sugar instead of maple syrup)

Lunch: Chicken tortilla wraps (1 per person) spread with mayonnaise and filled with leftover roast chicken, diced gherkin, grated cabbage, and grated carrot. Snacks of apple slices, stove-popped popcorn, and chocolate chunk oat cookies.

Dinner: Chicken barley soup - make with 1/2c barley, two diced onions, the bag of of frozen mixed vegetables, and 2L of the prepared chicken stock. If you have any herbs on hand, add these for extra flavour. You will have plenty of barley left over for soup in coming weeks. 


Breakfast: Egg-in-a-hole (1 per person)

Lunch: Pumpkin bread spread with butter. (Use half the pumpkin bread for this lunch and save the other half for tomorrow). Stove-popped popcorn and apple slices as a snack. 

Dinner: Lentil pumpkin curry served on rice. Fry 1 tortilla per person in a little butter to make an imitation roti to go with the curry. Serve with a side of frozen peas. 

(To make the curry, saute two diced onions in 3 Tbsp oil on a medium heat until softened. Add 2 Tbsp garam masala to the pan and saute for 30 seconds, stirring to coat the onion in the spice mix. Rinse 1 cup of lentils and add them to the pan, stirring to coat them in the onion and spice mixture. Next, stir through the tin of diced tomatoes, 1/4 pumpkin (which was roasted on Monday night), and 3c of chicken stock. Simmer covered for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 5 minutes before serving, stir through the tin of coconut cream and add salt and pepper to taste.)

Note: While the soup is cooking, bake pumpkin bread for tomorrow's lunches. 


Breakfast: Toast

Lunch: The rest of the pumpkin bread spread with butter. Popcorn and carrot sticks as a snack. 

Dinner: Hamburgers on homemade bread rolls. Make the patties with the mince, onion, egg and bread crumbs made out of crusts. Top the burgers with gherkins, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, grated carrot, and grated cabbage. 


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast. 

Lunch: Leftovers or tortilla wraps filled with a cooked egg mixture made of boiled eggs mixed with mayonnaise and diced gherkins. Snacks of apples and popcorn

Dinner: Leftover lentil curry served on a fresh batch of rice. Serve with a side of green peas. 

Note: Start the overnight bread for tomorrow's dinner. 


Breakfast: Baked oatmeal made with rolled oats, eggs, cinnamon and apple. Use water instead of milk. (This can be prepared the night before and individual servings reheated for breakfast.) 

Lunch: Potato hash browns made with the rest of the potatoes, as well as eggs, flour, diced onion. Cook in oil. Serve with a cole slaw made of grated carrot and the rest of the cabbage. 

Dinner: Pumpkin soup (use the remaining pumpkin, one onion, the chicken stock and the second can of coconut cream for this soup. Flavour with garam masala if you don't have cumin, coriander or curry powder). Serve with overnight bread

Sunday (leftovers day)

Breakfast: Leftover baked oatmeal. 

Lunch: Use up whatever is left in the fridge and pantry. 

Dinner: Leftover pumpkin soup. 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Gluten-free plum and almond slice

Now that one of my family members is gluten-free, I'm finding myself experimenting with gluten-free cooking that our whole family will enjoy. I don't want to be making two different kinds of everything. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

Often gluten-free baking can taste dry and chalky, but the almond flour and plums in this recipe give it the perfect moist and dense texture. 

Everybody in my family loves it; I hope you will too. 


  • 125g butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3/4 cup plain gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate drops
  • 2 red or purple-fleshed plums 


  1. Heat oven to 170 C fan bake, and line a pie dish with baking paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. 
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. 
  4. Fold in flour, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate drops. 
  5. Spread mixture in prepared pie dish. 
  6. Slice plums into 6 wedges each and arrange these in a pleasing design over the mixture. 
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the slice comes out clean. 
  8. Cool in the tin then remove to slice. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Delicious and Simple Crockpot Beef Curry Recipe

Today I'm going to share with you the best crockpot beef curry recipe I've ever come across. My friend, Anna, introduced it to me and I loved it so much, I've made it several times since. 

Every time I get to eat it, I sigh rapturously. 

The original recipe I've based it on is a stovetop recipe, but I like being able to prepare this in the morning and come back to a perfectly cooked dinner in the evening, so I've turned it into a sumptuous crockpot recipe. 

The recipe I'm sharing is the base recipe, but feel free to add in extra vegetables you may have on hand. In the photos below you will see I added a diced eggplant to the crockpot, to use it up. It absorbed the flavours of the curry wonderfully and was a great addition. Choko and zucchini can be used in a similar way. Anna often adds chickpeas to her curry, to help bulk it out if she's feeding a crowd. 


  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 500g stewing meat (eg. chuck steak or blade steak), diced into 1.5cm pieces. 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin diced tomatoes
  • 400ml tin coconut cream


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat and cook the onion until soft. 
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Stir until heated.
  3. Increase the heat to high and add the diced beef. Cook, stirring until the meat is slightly browned and well coated in the spices. 
  4. Add the salt and diced tomatoes, and then stir, scraping the bottom of the pan so that the tomato juices deglaze it. 
  5. Transfer the contents of the pan to a crockpot set to low. 
  6. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, depending on the power of your particular crockpot. 
  7. Five minutes before serving, stir in the coconut cream. 
  8. Serve this beef curry on the rice of your choice. 

Serves 6 (and you're likely to have leftovers)

Monday, October 3, 2022

Frugal Dinner - Chicken Barley Soup

In August I posted a frugal Red Lentil Curry recipe for you and promised that I would post more frugal dinner recipes in the future. Well, for dinner tonight we are having Chicken Barley Soup, and I actually remembered to take photos of the process for you so I could post this excellent frugal dinner option. 

Sometimes cheaper dinner recipes are not so healthy, but this one is highly nourishing, flavourful and easy to make. It's also very adaptable to whatever vegetables you have in the house or garden. My whole family loves it. 

It doesn't actually contain any meat, but gets its chicken flavour from homemade chicken stock. You can, of course, add chicken meat if you want to, but that does increase the cost of this dinner, and I find the barley has such a pleasant chew to it that I don't miss the chicken at all. 

Just make sure to get your barley soaking early in the day, to give it time to swell up before you cook the soup.

I've included a cost breakdown at the bottom of this post, so scroll to the end if you're interested to find out exactly how frugal this dinner is.


  • 1/2 cup barley, soaked in three cups of water for several hours
  • 1Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cups chopped mixed vegetables, eg frozen mixed vegetables, or a mix of carrots, peas, beans, corn, celery, or zucchini (grated)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • A teaspoon of dried herbs of your choice, eg tarragon, oregano, sage, or coriander. (Fresh herbs are also great.)
  • 2 Litres chicken stock (see how I make chicken stock out of scraps here) (I make big pots of chicken stock and freeze it in ice cream containers to use for soup.)


  1. Sauté the diced onion in 1Tbsp cooking oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat until slightly softened. (Alternatively, you can scrape the chicken fat off the homemade chicken stock and use that instead of cooking oil for an even cheaper option.)
  2. Stir through the rest of the vegetables. 
  3.  Sprinkle over the salt, pepper and herbs of your choice. (I used several coriander stalks from my garden, dicing them up finely. I had already pulled the leaves off the coriander stalks for a salad.) 
  4. Cook the vegetables for a few minutes, stirring every now and then until coated in the herbs and slightly softened. 
  5. Pour over the chicken stock.
  6. Rinse the pre-soaked barley in a sieve under cold water and add it to the saucepan. Stir well to prevent the barley from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
  7. Place the lid on the saucepan and bring the soup to a boil before stirring once more and turning down the heat to low. 
  8. Simmer the soup for at least an hour, or until all the barley has cooked through and softened to a chewable consistency. Stir the soup every 15 minutes or so while it's cooking, and add more chicken stock or water if necessary, as the liquid will reduce while the soup cooks. 
  9. Once the barley is cooked through, check the soup for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Serve with toast strips (toastie soldiers) spread with butter. Optional.
Serves 6 or more, and you're likely to have leftovers.

Cost breakdown
These are based on Countdown prices, as those are the same anywhere in New Zealand. You could definitely get cheaper prices by shopping at PAKnSAVE, a fruit & vegetable store or a vegetable co-op.
  • Rice bran oil: $2.30 for 400ml, so $0.10 for 1Tbsp. (Free if you scrape the fat off the chicken stock.)
  • Onion: $0.75 cents, if buying individually; cheaper if bought in an Odd Bunch bag)
  • Frozen mixed vegetables: $2.80 for a 1KG bag, so around $1.40 for two cups' worth
  • Celery: $4.99 for a whole celery, so roughly $1.50 for three stalks
  • Herbs: $2 for a 10g pack, so roughly $0.20 for 1 teaspoon
  • Salt & pepper: A few cents - so let's round up to $0.10
  • Chicken stock: Free! Make it out of chicken bones and vegetable scraps. (Otherwise $7 for 2 Litres.)
  • Barley: $2.20 for a 500g bag, so less than $0.50 for this soup
TOTAL: $4.55 if you use homemade chicken stock, which is $0.76 a serve (and those would be huge servings). Otherwise $11.55 if you use store-bought chicken stock, which equates to $1.93 a serve.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Budgeting update

Back in February of 2020, I shared with you that I had started working hard towards managing our budget. 

At the time, I was frustrated about running out of money before the end of each month and relying on our credit card to see us through. We always paid our credit card back with the next paycheck, but it still annoyed me that we were starting each month with less money than we would have if we hadn't gone into debt in the first place. 

Another thing that bothered me was that I didn't have a handle on where all our money was going. It just seemed to disappear. 

I also had all these big things I wanted to save for, like house renovations, but since we were always running out of money before the end of the month, there didn't seem to be much left to put into savings. 

I took all of these frustrations and turned them into the motivation I needed to learn how to handle our money better. Since then, I've been learning and refining how I budget, and things have definitely improved. 

Today I want to share with you how I budget and why it's working for me. 

The first thing I did when setting up my budget was talk to a lot of different people about how they manage their money. I talked to people on low incomes, inconsistent incomes and regular incomes to get an idea of budgeting methods that would work no matter our situation. I also watched YouTube videos about budgeting and followed several budgeting gurus online to pick up their tips and tricks. 

Putting it all together for me and my household, I figured out that having all of my budgeting data on a spreadsheet that automatically updates every month doesn't work for me. I need to be a lot more involved in the budgeting process than that. 

I need to be the one physically moving money about and keeping track of it on paper. 

Back in 2020, I copied a paycheck bill tracker template designed by The Budget Mom, to get me started with a pen and paper budgeting method. Since then, I've been refining the tracker every month to get it exactly how I want it. 

Each month I update the dates on the paycheck tracker and check whether it's going to be a four-week or a five-week grocery month, and then I fill in all the "BUDGET" columns with the information I have and make sure that our income is going to match our outgoings for the month. 

I print it out and fill in the "ACTUAL" columns as the month progresses, to keep track of how our budget is tracking in reality. 

Sometimes the water bill or the power bill might be a little higher than I had budgeted for, or unexpected expenses might crop up, so I've included a miscellaneous spending line to allow for any discrepancies like that. 

The other thing I did that has really helped us stick to our budget is set up online accounts for all of the different SAVINGS categories listed above. I already had a BIG BILLS account, which covered big annual spending like insurance premiums and car maintenance, but in the past couple of years I have also set up an EMERGENCY account, a HOMESCHOOL account, a BIRTHDAY/CHRISTMAS account, an APPLIANCES account, and so on. 

Steadily putting money into these accounts each month has helped me know how much I can spend on items like clothing without breaking the budget. If I buy clothes, I use the credit card to do it but make sure not to spend more than the amount of money sitting in our CLOTHING account. Then I simply transfer money out of the clothing account to pay off the credit card and we are still on budget. 

The EMERGENCY account is something I'm slowly adding to to give us a buffer for a time when our income might suddenly stop or an emergency might occur that we need to pay for. 

Recently I dipped into our emergency fund to cover a plumbing bill, when a pipe burst in our bathroom. It was so good having the money sitting there ready to pay the bill, as it didn't affect the rest of our budget at all. 

In the past, an emergency like that would have thrown out our whole month's budget. 

Even with all of this excellent budgeting happening, I realised we simply weren't earning enough to achieve some of my bigger goals, like renovating our kitchen. Because of that, I decided to get a part-time job and dedicate all of my earnings to our HOUSE RENOVATIONS fund. The job is only 12 hours a week and it's not particularly high paying, so progress is slowly, but any progress is better than the no progress we were making before. 

The good thing about the job is that it's in a school, so I get all the school holidays, which helps it fit around family life. It's also in the school that we want to send our kids to for high school, so that will help ease the transition from homeschooling to institutional schooling for them. 

Now, I couldn't write a post about budgeting without mentioning the current inflation that is causing the price of absolutely everything to rise. We've seen interest on our mortgage go up, rates increase, water charges increase, power charges increase, grocery prices go up, and petrol prices go up. Almost every expense line has increased significantly. 

Because of inflation, it has been increasingly difficult to make our outgoings match our income each month. 

Recently, I've had to reduce the amount of money we're putting into several of our savings accounts, and last month I changed cell phone providers to save half the cost on my monthly bill. Paul also canceled our Netflix subscription as it was a luxury we could no longer afford. 

Those changes have helped us a little bit in combating the price increases going on. 

The other thing I've been doing is working really hard to keep our grocery bill down, as that's the budget area that's easiest to blow out on. 

I've been shopping at Reduced to Clear and Why Knot to get discounted food items. I've also been shopping at Pak'N'Save once a month to get the good deals there, and then doing weekly online Countdown orders the rest of the month. I find it much easier to stick to my budget when I'm ordering online, even though the overall prices at Countdown are higher. 

Mainly, I'm just so glad that I started figuring out how to budget two years ago, before inflation was such a big problem. It has got us into a much better position financially as we head into these tougher economic times, which is helping us to get through them.