2014 a new direction!

It has been very quiet here at Honest Pantry, because I have taken an extra long holiday with my family. It was needed!! I already feel recharged and full of energy for the year ahead. I have been rethinking which way I want to go in this year and which direction I want to take all of you in.

You see, I have been on the health and wellness train for almost a decade, when it wasn’t trendy and although I love living a healthy life style and I enjoy sharing things with you about that, I feel it just gets repeated over and over again on social media and in the press. This of course is fantastic, we want people to make healthy choices, but I have decided I don’t want to be part of a “fad”.

So this year I am going to try and give unique content, which is a challenge since there is nothing new under the sun! I will still post ideas about health, recipes and so on, but I will also share with you things about my family and how we do life together and I will focus more on living a sustainable lifestyle.

Health and well being goes hand in hand with sustainability, I believe, so stay tuned as I will take you on my own journey towards sustainability and living a life that does not depend on the supermarket.

I encourage you to get involved and tell me what you would like to learn this year. Have you got a question for me that needs an answer, please ask. I am here to serve you! Happy new year everyone.

I just can not get into the Christmas mode! Not until……….??


I don’t have to tell you that Christmas is almost here as undoubtedly you will have heard everybody else saying: “Can you believe it is almost Christmas?” and “This year has gone so fast!” Yes, every Christmas just seems to come around out of nowhere, boom there it is! Like it’s a surprise and it has never happened before!

Being Dutch, though, I can not get into the Christmas Spirit until after the birthday of St. Nicolas, a well loved tradition celebrated in The Netherlands every year.
Since 1427, St Nicolas has been celebrated in my country, first in the Church and later in every home. Each and every child places their shoe next to the fireplace for St Nic to deliver a little present.

On his actual birthday, which is the 6th of December all children receive gifts. It is the most beautiful tradition The Netherlands has and every year I watch St. Nicolas’ arrival into Holland from Spain on YouTube…..(sometimes with my children hahaha). It is so awesome, I even sing all the songs!

This event called “the arrival of Sinterklaas” is broadcasted on national television for all children to watch, it’s the best show of the year! 😉


You see, unlike Santa, St Nic has a huge steam ship on which he travels from his country Spain all the way to Holland. He has lots of servants who all have individual tasks to make sure everything goes to plan. Guess what, it never goes to plan! His helpers are incredibly funny and cheeky causing lots of trouble!
The boat is called “parcel boat 12” and carries all of the gifts for every child in the country. Once the ship docks, Sinterklaas, as we call him, steps off the boat and jumps on his stunning white horse, called Amerigo and makes his way into the city. In the video below you can see exactly how he does it, every year. Look at all those happy children!

1000’s and 1000’s of children line the streets singing songs to him and calling out his name, while his helpers throw lots of pepernoten (special biscuits) to all the children and hand out small gifts. Just writing this brings back so many precious memories.

Now this is the funny bit and as a child it rather frightened me. Naughty children not only miss out on a present, but they will also get the rod and have to go back to Spain until St Nic’s arrival into Holland the following year! Yikes, I guess that explains why Dutch kids are so well behaved! What an excellent way of disciplinary action! It certainly helped me stay on the straight and narrow. I was petrified of his helpers!!

I am sure you have noticed that Saint Nicolas’ helpers are black. In fact they are called Black Peter or in Dutch; Zwarte Piet. Does that concern you? Don’t worry, you are not the only one. Immigrants in Holland have been trying for a few years now to put an end to this wonderful tradition celebrated for almost 600 years. Almost like all the non-Christian who want to eradicate the Nativity scene from our Christmas celebration. But what is Christmas without Jesus? And what is Sinterklaas without the very Black Peters?

Here is a little history of St Nic;

St. Nic fled to Spain when he was much older, originally he is from Turkisch decent and nationality. He became especially well-known for freeing black-African child slaves giving them employment as servants allowing them to have an independent status, being able to support themselves. It is because of this, St. Nic is celebrated as a ‘childrens friend’ and his black servants are originally first and foremost a symbol against slavery and oppression.

So, there is no better symbol against racism than Saint Nicolas and his Black servants!


As you can see, I can not keep such a beautiful tradition from my children as it gave me some of the most memorable moments of my childhood. Instead of putting up the Christmas tree, we will place our shoes in front of the fire place tonight hoping Sinterklaas has made it to Sydney this year!

Annemarie’s Healthy Holidays!


Monday the 18th of November marks the start of our FREE Holiday Event! We will transform our holiday season together and start the New Year out right!

Do you want to join us? It is FREE and we are all participants.

We can all do it our own way. All you have to do is set goals and be accountable for your actions and progress at least once a week.

Goals should include:

  • Nutrition (adding in at least one healthy food per week)
  • Exercise (a minimum of 30 minutes 6 days a week)
  • Gratitude (take the time to be grateful for at least 3 things in your life daily)
  • Giving (challenge yourself to give without expectation of reciprocation once daily)

Don’t be hard on yourself this holiday season. Our goal is to simply add in one healthy whole food each week. Enjoy your holiday traditions and don’t eat beyond what feels good to you.

Resolve to get at least 30 minutes of good healthy exercise in each day (with one day of rest). You will feel better through the holidays. Exercise is good for depression, weight maintenance and your general health.

List 3 things that you are grateful for each day. By focusing on gratitude, we see our lives from a different perspective. Instead of seeing what is going wrong, we see the more important picture of what is right in our lives.

You don’t have to brag about your giving, but if someone gives and it turns out to be really special, share it with us. You may also want to include it as a part of your goal. In prior years, my goal was to give without cost; it does not have to be an expensive gift, just thoughtful and meaningful.

Do you know anyone who is struggling through the holidays? Invite them along!
This weekend I will work on my own goals and post them here.

Please click on the “Secret Facebook Group” page that you can be invited to if you would like to be involved!

Comment below or email me to join in, this will be fun! Share this with your friends!

Apply Self Regulation & Accept Feedback


Apply self regulation & accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

A self regulating system has the ability to look after itself and is the ideal in permaculture design. This design is seen in forest gardens, in which work is minimised by planting ground covers to reduce weeds, nitrogen fixers to replace fertilisers and perennial and self-seeding plants to reduce annual plantings.

Planting and designing your garden in this manner mimics nature. You are creating an eco-system in your own back yard. When you work WITH nature and not AGAINST it, all of a sudden gardening becomes so much easier and instead of seeing problems, you start seeing healthy, natural solutions.

I have applied this principle in my garden underneath my apple trees. I have planted several herbacaous ground covers to minize weeds from popping up. I have also planted Nasturtiums to keep the moisture in the soil and the weeds out. They also function as a pest deterrent. They happen to be a great companion plant for apple trees. And they are delicious in a salad!

What can you plant in your garden that has more than 1 function?

Let’s talk about the C word


Did you know that chlorophyl is produced by a process called photosynthesis? I remember learning about it in high school. Back then, I decided biology was BORING, and I wasn’t afraid to tell my teacher how BORING I really thought it was! He would kick me out of the class room and I won, as I got the cigarette break I wanted! Don’t worry, I gave up smoking years ago, thank goodness.

There are 3 main ingredients needed to initiate photosynthesis: sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. I hope I haven’t lost you yet, I promise it will get good.

Chlorophyl, also known as “liquid sunlight” has a chemical composition nearly identical to that of human blood. Well, is it any surprise then, that drinking green juices has such tremendous health benefits for our bodies? I don’t think so!

Wheatgrass juice has nearly the identical molecular structure to heamoglobin, the red pigment in human blood.

Heamoglobin carries oxygen to all the vital parts of the body, pretty important job and thus it is crucial that the body produces more heamoglobin daily.

And you guessed it! Wheat grass juice has an incredible amount of vital nutrients and enzymes and provides all the ingredients to support the rebuilding of blood heamoglobin.

If you don’t have any wheat grass growing in your garden or kitchen, don’t worry. Parsley is a very versatile little herb, which can be used in almost any juice you decide to make. Adding about half a bunch will highly increase the nutritional benefits of your juice.


Parsley contains the minerals; potassium, copper, iron, manganese, calcium and magnesium as well as an abundance of vitamin C and A and will just about provide immeasurable benefits to all parts of the body.

If you add celery you can be sure that you receive a drink rich in chlorophyl and high in vitamin and mineral content. Growing both celery and parsley in your garden is very easy and incredibly rewarding. And of course way more economic than buying supplements from the health food store.

There you have it, my favourite C word is CHLOROPHYL and my hope is that it will become your favourite to!


Obtain a Yield


Obtain a Yield.

Well, that would certainly be a nice idea after all the hard work you put into designing your garden and planting all your seeds and seedlings, plants, trees, shrubs and bushes.

Obtaining a yield in your garden only comes with careful planning and of course trial and error.

One way to obtain a yield is by staggering your seed sowing. I sow seeds every 3 to 4 weeks in order to have food all months of the year. There is no point in sowing broccoli seeds only ones and then having 30 plants maturing all at the same time.

Another way to obtain a yield is when you share with other permaculturist/gardeners in your neighbourhood. If you are great at growing tomatoes and your neighbour excels at zucchinis, why not swap?

A great idea, when planning your edible garden is to make a planting calendar. By doing this you can assure you won’t starve to death when winter comes around!

When I bought my raspberry canes I made sure I bought many different varieties. I want raspberries for 5 months of the year, not just for 2 months. The same goes for citrus trees, different varieties fruit at different times of the year. Planning is key!

How have you planned your garden design?

Catch & Store Energy


Catching and storing energy may have never been something you have busied yourself with. Don’t worry, I was the same.

One day I woke up and smelled the roses and thought, wouldn’t it be nice to lower my energy bill every quarter? Of course it would be and so we purchased a 4KW solar system and had it pitched unto our roof. Our bill is now significantly reduced. So much so, I no longer cry when it arrives.

Having solar panels or a water tank is an obvious way to catch and store energy. I don’t have a water tank so especially in summer I catch the shower water in a bucket and pour it over the garden beds or pour it in the washing machine. It’s nice to use it twice! I did carry out a water audit to determine how much water we as a family of 5 use. I called up the water company and the lady on the phone was immensely impressed by the lack of our water usage. Being European, I was taught to wash yourself by the basin with a wash cloth in the morning. This practice saves us 5X 10 min. showers, not every day, but a couple of times a week.

Another way of storing and catching energy on my property is through the windows on the North side of my house. In autumn and winter, when it is cold outside I use the heat of the sun that shines on my windows to heat up the kitchen area, BEFORE turning on the heater and using energy.

In summer to keep the north side cool I am growing a deciduous vine. In summer this vine gives lots of shade, keeping away the heat of the sun, whilst in winter it will let warm sun rays through the windows to heat up my living space.

How can you use the principle of cathing & storing energy to your own life?



Observe & Interact


In my garden I use Permaculture principles, because it makes perfect sense to me.

There are 12 permaculture principles in total. In my garden design and when I garden I always have these principles in the forefront of my mind and as much as possible apply them.

You can do the same in your garden. So, let me explain to you the 12 principles starting with number 1

Observe & Interact

Take a close look at your site, grab a chair, a notebook and a pen and write down what you see. This give you a great opportunity to relax and connect with nature. Something most of us don’t often get a chance to do.

While you sit in your garden relaxed, connected with nature and taking nice deep breaths, I want you to observe the patterns you can see.

Where does the sun rise and set? Through which parts of your garden does the wind travel most, which area gets the most sun in winter and the most sun in summer? Are there areas that need wind protection, or protection from the harsh sun? What kind of wildlife lives in my yard. Are there bees?? Birds, butterflies, frogs? How can I attract wildlife if none are present? Do I look at a plant and call it a weed or do I look at plant and call it a medicinal herb? Which “medicinal herbs” are most prominent in your garden? Do some research on them and find out what they are and how you can use them.

What patterns do you observe in your garden? Do you have an edible garden?