In Another Lifetime… ♥

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The other night Natasha and I were discussing what we’d complete in another lifetime. She mentioned that she’d pursue a second degree. My mind immediately sprinted to visions of packing for Paris (ugh, wouldn’t it be extraordinary? Imagine living amongst its history!) and training as a hairdresser for a hobby (it’s often an expensive service, and when it comes to styling my tresses, I have the imagination of a pine cone. I’d love to become skilled!).What would you do if you were presented with the opportunity of being reborn? Learn Chinese? Dye your locks turquoise? Become a volunteer firefighter? I’d…

Move To Another Country

Okay, so I’ve spent the majority of my existence in Australia and I’m now in New Zealand, but with the two so geographically close and relatively similar, does it REALLY count?! If I was to return, I’d dart off to France and immerse myself in a new language or drag my butt to Britain and embrace its differences. (Pssst! Once I’ve finished my degree, this is actually something that I intend to do this time around, anyway!)

Study Law

Do you ever think “goodness it’d be great to study ___ if I had the availability/funds/etc.”? I frequently muse about how fascinating it’d be practice law. And graphic design. And photography. And jewellery-making. Hmmm. Maybe I need to be reincarnated a few times…!
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Apply For A Position At An All-Inclusive Resort

Have you ever seen those job listings which guarantee free accommodation, a killer salary AND (usually) heavily-discounted food… provided that you’re willing to re-locate? They often involve living onsite at resorts or hotels, and gol-ly, think of the ADVENTURES you’d have! (And how quickly your bank account would build up!) Back in the day, as an early twenty-something filly in Sydney, I’d briefly contemplated the idea until I remembered that I had a long-term boyfriend, a mortgage and (at the time) no desire to leave either of them. But if I was given a second life? You bet I’d be applying!

Participate As An Exchange Student

Nothing about sending their teenage daughter to co-habitate with strangers on the other side of the world appealed to my folks, and now that I’m a parent myself, I can understand, but my oh my, what an experience it’d be!

Work In The Kitchen Of A Sushi Or Japanese Restaurant

Ha! Don’t laugh! Oh alright, chortle away, because it is fairly ridiculous, isn’t it? I don’t even know why I’d like to work in one, but for a teeny-tiny period of time, I think it would be fabulous!

What would you adore to do if you were given a second life…?

xoxo

An Update From Whakatane ♥

Whakatane, New Zealand

Good evening! It’s been a LONG time between drinks, hasn’t it?! Wait… have you done something different with your hair? Aha! I thought so. (And isn’t it snaaazzy?!) Has anything else changed? Fill me in on what’s happening with your beloved/apartment/fur babies/intentions for 2015. Did you have that conversation with ___…? How splendid it is to gasbag again!

Although I try to capture a moment each day and share it with you on Instagram and Twitter (ahem, and I’m sorry about all of the baby spam, but sometimes, after that year, I’m still in awe that I’m a mother at all!), let’s rewind back to the day that the photograph above was taken. It was exactly a month ago yesterday, and my daughter Charlie and I had just arrived in Whakatane from Auckland to begin our new lives. I know I vowed to never shift to a small town again after Blenheim *shudder*, but Whakatane is a WHOLE other kettle of fish (honestly!), and I knew after our last visit here that it was where we needed to be.

Whakatane, New Zealand

I’m itching to meet people (I practically had to place my hands over my mouth to stop myself from hounding the first person in their twenties that I came across “hi! How are you?! Who are you?! How does one meet people around here?!”), and sometimes I feel frustrated that I’m living in an empty home, but my grandmother is amazingly adept at delivering reality checks. “I’m 75 and the chairs at my dining table are from an outdoor garden furniture set,” she reminds me.  “I’m still working towards where I want to be!” 

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Her wise words always encourage me to take a deep breath, count my blessings and enjoy this stage of subsisting, regardless of the fact that it’s spent on the floor. (It won’t be forever!) Somehow, between all of this moving mayhem, I’ve also managed to submit three assignments (did I tell you that I was accepted into Massey University? Eek! I was! I’m completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Social Anthropology this semester, with a view to transferring into a Bachelor of Social Work next term). Things have been frenetic, tiring and testing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have one life to live. Hit at it full throttle and give it your all, I say!

xoxo

If I Ever Have To See Another Packet Of Two Minute Noodles Again… ♥

iboughtahouse1 … OR Homebrand (the cheapest of the cheap!) bread, or eggs, then I’ll… practically smooch them. Because if they hadn’t been my dietary staples for the last 3,374762728474787621526 days (rough guess!), where would I be?! How would this have occurred?! IT COULDN’T HAVE!

You see, I’ve kind of bought a house. And by “kind of” I mean “ARGH!” “I have” and by “house” I mean this ol’ thing. It’s been intimidating, stressful (“oh cry for me Argentina…” someone might grumble, but no, REALLY. Negotiating with banks, real estate agents and perusing contract page after contract page on your own – without any guarantee that the property you’re vetting for will become yours – has proven to be a complicated test of sanity!) and overwhelming, but it’s DONE.
iboughtahouse5 iboughtahouse6 iboughtahouse5It means we’ll be relocating from Auckland (but not too drastically, our new home is in the Bay Of Plenty, only a 3 hour drive away), but most importantly, it means that Charlie will have security, stability AND her great grandmother within walking distance. What could be better?! (“A place in Sydney,” one of my friends replied. “Why aren’t you coming back?!”)
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If things are somewhat sleepy around here, it’s only because I’m unpacking boxes and plotting our next steps, but I’ll be back up and running and asking for all your gossip soon! (We have a heap to catch up on, don’t we?!)

xoxo

Current Style Obsession: Interior Design ♥

interiordesignWith a change of address only a squiggle of a signature away (more details on this when I’m no longer petrified that telling you anything will “jinx” everything, but I’m 99.9% likely to be MOVING!), all I can think about is interior design.

Luxurious living spaces! Resplendent ROOMS! The abode I’ve been eyeing up is a quaint-but-cute, bright (it’s filled with skylights!) two bedroom townhouse, and I’ve been eagerly daydreaming about how I’d adorn it (it’s free to fantasise, right?!). There’d be a pinch of rock and roll, a sprinkling of travel-oriented accessories and – oh, I know. Why don’t I just be quiet and show you?!
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Sparkles, soft candles and a nod to Paris in the form of an Eiffel Tower ornament? Très bien! 

mapoftheworlddecalProfessing a love of the world (except, uh… New Zealand? It seems to have been conveniently snipped out of this one!) with a wall decal seems like a winner of a decorating choice to me. Wouldn’t it be perfect positioned behind a couch? (I fully intend on making this happen!)

travelinteriordesign musicinteriordesignAlthough, these pieces are equally fetching…

sparklekitchenIf a bedazzling kitchen backdrop couldn’t get you motivated to cook, NOTHING could.

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I adore every inch of these melodic bedspreads (I’m more than marginally obsessed with music…!).

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Shades of silver, turquoise and ebony are my f-a-v-o-u-r-i-t-e.

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And how savvy is this approach to freeing up your wardrobe by implementing shoe shelves? Hugely! 

How would you furnish the dwelling of your desires? With an indoor swimming pool? Purple everywhere?! (I won’t laugh, I swear!)

xoxo

Our Struggles Determine Our Successes ♥

ourstrugglesdetermineoursuccesses

“Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship – but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.

- Mark Manson

(Paraphrased from The Most Important Question Of Your Life, Mark Manson’s startlingly sensible piece on success.)

THWACK! Pardon the racket, that’s just the roar of this fellow delivering a perfectly executed blow to the head of a nail!

We CRAVE fulfilling our real estate aspirationsadding international stamps to our passport every twelve months, expanding our careers (insert your fantasy here!)… but how? What’s being sacrificed in the meantime to accelerate from one stage to another? (A daily croissant and a coffee habit? Friday nights dinner and dancing to power through a thesis? Enforcing an evening Facebook ban to finish authoring that novel?!)

I probably would’ve been committed if I’d confided to Twitter on Monday morning that my breakfast consisted of oats mixed with water and cocoa powder (!), but as I scarfed down each unappetising morsel – the remnants of the pantry! – into my mouth, I knew EXACTLY what I was doing. Leaving the dollars in my purse untouched, to scramble closer towards my ambitions. (Because while I won’t remember the occasional frightful feed, I will hold onto memories of screaming with joy at Tokyo Disneyland with Charlie, or signing the contract on a new home!)

A puny percentage of the population will KNOWINGLY endure strife for eventual satisfaction. Be the minority! What are you forfeiting now to later gain?

xoxo

Thank Frock It’s The Weekend! ♥

If you’re clicking here for the first time, WELCOME! Every Friday we celebrate the fact that – ding, ding! – it’s the weekend, and our favourite things (falafel sandwiches so flavourful they brought sparkles of happiness to your eyes? Teaspoons?! Okay, it’s probably not the latter…) from the week that was. Here’s what I’m currently loving!

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Driving Across Kariotahi Beach In A 4WD - Tick! Thanks to Natasha and her tough-as-can-be wheels, I can now delightedly scrawl that off the bucket list! (It’s just something that has to be done, at least once!)


x Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat - I’ve never watched The Hunger Games (I know, EEK! Don’t worry, I’m bowing my head in shame as we speak!), but I adore everything about this track that Lorde penned for the series.
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x Picnicking On The Awhitu Peninsula - With vegetable quiche, homegrown plums (thanks, Natasha!) and almost the entire expanse to ourselves. L-u-c-k-y!
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x FINALLY Having Braces - Oh, it’s only something that I’ve been jabbering to you about wanting for SIX YEARS (no big deal!)

Manukau Heads Lighthousex Setting Foot Inside My First Lighthouse – Nowhere near as spooky as I’d envisaged (did anyone else grow up reading stories about ghosts inhabiting their insides?!), but captivating nonetheless!
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x Journeying Across The New Zealand Countryside - I mean, this landscape could almost reduce you to tears. It’s gorgeous! 
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x Opening The Door To A Courier, Blurting Out “Hi! Um, I Haven’t Ordered Anything?” And Unpacking Not One, But FOUR Surprise Gifts From My Friends Kevin And Jenni In Australia – Two boxes of chocolates, a beauty/spa kit set and a rattle for baby Charlie. Even though I haven’t seen either of them in over a year. Even though they didn’t have to. Even though traipsing to the post office is one of THE most tedious tasks. (I’m thinking that I should surprise them at their workplace in Sydney in the months to come and then whisk them away for lunch. Wouldn’t that be sublime?!)
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x And ice cream sundaes on a scorching summer’s day. A must-have! 

xoxo

Wanderlust ♥

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Genie from Bunny Eats Design is inviting bloggers to share their tales of wanderlust through her initiative, The Wanderlust Tag, and it’s a bandwagon so superb that I had to jump aboard! (And when Laura nominates you to participate, well, how could you not play?!) Let the ride begin!

Where was your first plane to?

Ooh, I’m not sure! (Off to a flying – ba-doom-chi! -start, aren’t I?!) It would’ve been a domestic flight, though.

Where have you travelled to that you would love to visit again?

London, it’s – although I’m saving my clams to see if New York can give it any competition! – my favourite city! I feel 110% at home in its surroundings, so when I was 24, I applied for my British passport and booked a one-way ticket there from Sydney… and then met Charlie’s father, shortened my trip and eventually moved to Blenheim, New Zealand, instead. (And if it wasn’t for the fact that our union resulted in my baby, I’d now be bellowing “YOU MUPPET!” at myself in the mirror – we’re no longer a couple – and wishing for a time machine to reverse that choice!) I’d also love to revisit Kathmandu and Paris. Who could tire of Paris?!
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You’re leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going?

I like this game. Because we’re dreaming, I’m opting for three locations (greedy guts!); Japan, North America and then South America. Whoop-whoop!

Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or car?

Planes. They fascinate me and airports excite me. (I know… w-e-i-r-d-o!)

Favourite travel website?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a need to peruse one (sob!), so I don’t actually have a favourite, but Grab A Seat in New Zealand occasionally sells ridiculously cheap airfares within the country, which can be worth a glance! (Though you do literally have to grab them. I tried booking one of their deals recently, but by the time I’d entered my payment details in, they’d sold out!)
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Where would you travel to just eat the food?

Tricky to answer, because in this day and age, where can’t you find a particular cuisine? The world’s becoming so multicultural! Seeing Mexican dishes on menus in Nepal is standard (which surprised me), Germany – in my opinion – served pizza to rival its Italian counterparts and locally, there’s so many hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurants cooking up delicious meals that I don’t know would only be authentic if I was shovelling them down in their origin.

Is there a place you would never go again?

Never? No. But I wouldn’t hurry back to Italy. The Colosseum and ancient ruins in Rome are AMAZING. The beauty of the Tuscan countryside caused my mouth to hang open. But I couldn’t warm to Florence (and I’ve wandered its streets twice), and amongst the canals, gondolas and gelato of Venice (all of which are stunning) is the rampant commercialism, which I found staggering… and sad. It’s Venice! One of the oldest cities on the planet! Who wants to gawk at overpriced handbags in a space inhabiting decades of history?! Unfortunately, the cobblestones are swamped in high-end stores, and even the famous “Bridge of Sighs” is draped in advertising.

Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?

LH0… hmmm. Afraid not!
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Do you prefer the Window, Aisle, or Middle seat?

Domestically, the window seat, and internationally, the same, but only if the travelling gods are grinning down upon me and I somehow manage to snare a set of seats to myself! If not, aisle all the way, because interrupting and bothering somebody – especially if they’re asleep! – to whisper “excuse me, can I please get through?” to venture to the bathroom is one of my worst nightmares. And then there’s the people who nod politely but expect you to shift past them without moving. The awkwardness! I prefer to be able to move freely and have no problem leaping up to offer someone else the same comfort.

How do you pass the time on the air plane?

Very easily! I don’t require much to be content and with food and music (and maybe wine!) by my side, what more could I wish for? (Well, maybe an upgrade to Business Class…!)

If you’d like to join the party, do! The questions are:

Where was your first plane to?
Where have you traveled to that you would love to visit again?
You’re leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going?
Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or car?
Favourite travel website?
Where would you travel to just eat the food?
Is there a place you would never go again?
Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?
Do you prefer the Window, Aisle, or Middle seat?
How do you pass the time on the air plane?

xoxo

Thank Frock It’s The Weekend! ♥

If you’re clicking here for the first time, WELCOME! Every Friday (well, today it’s Sunday. Oops!) we celebrate the fact that – ding, ding! – it’s the weekend, and our favourite things (sky-high stilettos? Dishwashing powder?! Okay, it’s probably not the latter…) from the week that was. Here’s what I’m currently loving!thankfrockitsx 2015 - It’s kooky! The only outward discernible difference between 2014 and 2015 is a number. 2014. 2015. And yet, when January 1 rolled around, I genuinely felt as though the clunky weight of the past 12 months had been lifted, and a renewed sense of grit. I don’t know WHERE you were in 2014, faith (what, were you off sunning yourself in The Bahamas all year or something?!), but it was super to encounter a stumbling block in the first few days of January and shrug with a smile, knowing – believing! – that there’d be another solution. Is 2015 bursting with promise and an undercurrent of progress for you too? I hope so!

x The Wynyard Quarter, Auckland - Um, so I won’t be scoring myself a role with Auckland Tourism anytime soon, because it took a good friend (who originates from the UK, but was leading me – the Auckland resident – around!) visiting from out of town to introduce me to The Wynyard Quarter. How hadn’t I heard of it already?! (And how much of a doofus do you think I felt like for not knowing about it?!) A family-friendly seaside neighbourhood scattered with bustling restaurants, cafes, art installations, a playground and even a tram, it’s definitely a contender for one of the best locations in the city. (And check out the picturesque surroundings; you’re flanked by The Sky Tower the entire time!)
Wynyard Quarter

x Applying For University - Well, the enrolment process isn’t exactly the most spectacular saunter through Glee Ville (oh, the forms. THE FORMS!), but imagining becoming a student again and testing my brain in new ways is. I’d fantasised about pursuing a law degree, until extensive research and chats with recent graduates helped me to realise that it probably wasn’t up my alley (I’ve learned that successfully practicing legislation requires a personality that I’m not convinced I have!), but social work? There’s a form of social justice that I believe I’d complement!

x Other Little Things - Wolfing down haloumi bruschetta at The Shaky Isles; Incubus’s rendition of Massive Attack’s Teardrop; putting a call-out for referees for my university submission and immediately receiving a message from a previous employer asking “right, what do you need, and when do you need it by?” (despite the short notice, the fact that he runs two thriving businesses and has a family of five. What a champion, right?!); starting Charlie on solids (she’s six months old next week. How did THAT happen? Sniff!); buddies who you can spill your thoughts to and who are only ever a Facebook Messenger “ping!” away; reserving my ticket for January’s #brunchclub event (hooray for meeting more New Zealand bloggers! Are you attending?); and goals. DREAMS. It’d been a while!

xoxo

Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To… Meet With A Home Loan Specialist? ♥

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Many moons ago (six, in fact), my then-boyfriend Tom and I toddled into a Sydney bank to meet with a home loan specialist. It was mostly an experiment, and one that we were confident would be met with theatrical cackling and being shown the door. I was a 22 year-old full-time Media and Communications student (but also worked full-time at night. My, what a charming, sleep-deprived era THAT was!), and Tom arrived with his long hair, trademark tattoos and metal band t-shirt. Who would grant us a mortgage?!

Them, apparently. Within an hour of us presenting our (modest) payslips, we’d been approved to borrow $400,000, and shortly afterwards we purchased a pocket-sized apartment on The Northern Beaches. All from an enquiry! A planning session! People eyed us with “ooh, you smug so-and-sos” expressions when we (quietly) announced that we’d bought our address, but truthfully, we were dumbfounded. Goals require steps before they’re achievements, and by taking the first leap (setting up an appointment with a financial advisor), we were hoping to shuffle closer towards our target. Hitting it was an unexpected bonus that we frequently downplayed (because we weren’t smug so-and-sos!).
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(Not the bathroom I had in Collaroy, but cripes, isn’t it lovely?!)

Fast forward to today and waltzing into Westpac was nerve-wracking because my monetary, geographical and marital position is as starkly contrasting as aioli is to tomato sauce to what it was then. For starters, I’m now currently on (unpaid) maternity leave (and in New Zealand). Secondly, I’m not only single, but I have a dependent child. Sitting with one of their “Personal Managers”, I felt like a lender’s worst nightmare and that scene where Carrie Bradshaw’s informed in Sex And The City that she’s an “undesirable candidate” flashed through my mind as Emelda* (*not her real name) furrowed her brow as I spoke. BUT, I conceded to her, I was residing in Auckland. And paying $330 a week – for a studio! – for the “privilege” of doing so. Wouldn’t moving to a nearby (affordable) town and buying the real estate equivalent of a shoe box there – I’d estimated the repayments would still be $200 cheaper fortnightly than what I’m forking out now – be feasible? Emelda was dubious (and hugely hesitant to proceed with an application), but I persisted, and here’s what our conversation enlightened me to:

Be Aware Of Your Pecuniary Picture

Educate yourself on your every penny: what do you have in savings? What do you have in debts? How much superannuation do you have? I didn’t think that the few thousand I had tucked away in my New Zealand KiwiSaver account – which I’m not eligible to use – was of any importance, or that my Australian Super was relevant, but Emelda disagreed. “EVERYTHING helps paint your financial picture,” she notified me, punching the figures into her calculator. “It all contributes to your suitability.” 

Consider Alternative Avenues

In 2013, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand changed its lending rules, dictating that borrowers required a minimum 20% deposit for homes. 20%. When the median Auckland house price is $738,876. Ain’t nobody got time (money) for that! The sole reason I’d consulted Westpac for financing was because I knew they were one of the few organisations permitted to authorise low-deposit loans through the government’s Welcome Home Loan initiative. What’s available to you? What alternative avenues can you consider?

Don’t Be Defeated

This is NOT a takeaway from Emelda (ha!), but me. Refuse to give up. If you’re declined, find out why. Demand to know which section of their criteria you didn’t meet – so that you can rectify it. What would it take to bridge the gap from “sorry, but…” to “congratulations!”? An extra $150 in income a month, or $500? Chopping up your credit card? “Fail”, acknowledge temporary defeat and then strut back to the drawing board with a new plan of attack.

xoxo

Old-School Frock And Roll:

x Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Complete A… Résumé Bomb?! ♥
x Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Try… Belly Dancing?! ♥
x Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Attend A… Sex Toy Party?! ♥

10 Easy Low-Carb Meal Ideas (That WON’T Make You Want To Stab Your Eyes Out) ♥

10easylow-carbmealideasI can almost hear the (multiple) packets of pasta sniggering from the cupboards (are there helplines for that?!) “you? Preaching about low-carb meal ideas?! In your gnocchi-loving DREAMS! Why, we’ll be back in your bowl before you can chant “penne”…, because you could say that I’m partial to a carbohydrate. Alright, let’s not skirt around the subject: if it was legal to marry bread, we would be honeymooning together in The Maldives right now.

I’m devoted to grains! I have a MAJOR weakness for wheat! The term “clean eating” – seriously, unless we’re discussing those unwashed potatoes (mmm, potatoes), how can food be considered “dirty”?!  – is something that makes me want to stab my eyes out! But I also probably don’t need to be viewing two-minute noodles as a viable breakfast, and rice as my culinary ride-or-die.

Whether you’re gluten-free, curious about alternatives to accompany your favourite dishes or simply clicked through here to be polite (bless you!), here’s 10 easy low-carb meal ideas (that WON’T make you want to stab your eyes out!):
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Layered Vegetable Lasagne

If there was a world without lasagne, I don’t think I’d want to exist. But these layers of vegetable (who needs your traditional lasagne sheets when you can sandwich strips of zucchini, carrot and onion between lashings of cheese?) lushness? These I can support!
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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes/Kumaras

Half Baked Harvest have filled theirs with chipotle chicken, but you could pack yours with lentils, spinach, bacon… anything, really!
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Lettuce Leaf Tacos

Just substitute the traditional taco shells for lettuce leaves and not only will you have a low-carb dinner, but a cheaper one, too! Gosh you’re clever.
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Pan-Fried Tofu And Warm Pumpkin Salad

The Simpsons might’ve asserted “you don’t win friends with sal-ad!”, but clearly they hadn’t cottoned onto this beauty. (It’s my go-to!) Slice up some tofu, pan-fry it in olive oil and serve it alongside a plentiful helping of avocado for the ultimate plate of tastiness.
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Pesto-Coated Produce

Just add a drizzle of this saucy goodness and hey, pesto! Every side suddenly becomes sexier.

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Bunless Burgers

You’ll soon forget about the humble sesame seed bun once you’ve played with plump portobello mushrooms as toppers…
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San Choy Bow

It’s a parcel of Asian perfection.
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Salmon And Steamed Vegetables

(We’ll turn a blind eye to the mound of mash.)
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Curried Cabbage With Cashew Nuts

It’s next on my ‘to cook’ list.
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The Ingredient-Laden Omelette

I’m not egg-xactly (should I show myself out the door now?!) the egg’s biggest fan, but when it’s dressed up in omelette form, I can make an egg-xception (okay, okay… I’ll stop!).

xoxo