I fell off for a while whilst I was struggling with IBS. To manage it, I had to stick to a strict low FODMAP diet where legumes are unfortunately not allowed.
Now that I’m able to eat them again I’ve been using beans and lentils wherever I can. If you love chickpeas too you have to try Pamela Reif’s inventive cookie dough recipe – chickpeas are involved…
If you’re not adventurous enough to try chickpea based desserts, try a homemade hummus.
I find homemade hummus much more flavourful and fresh than the store bought kind, and it’s a brilliant way to get plant-based protein, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and healthy fats in.
I’m also weirdly addicted to green olives, so I’ve perfected a recipe that incorporates them too.
Blend the following until smooth, and try it yourself:
400g canned, washed & drained chickpeas
Healthy dose of lemon, herb and garlic seasoning (I find the Masterfood’s blend the perfect amount of zest and flavour, but you can always use an actual squeeze of lemon, mixed herbs, and a clove of garlic).
Today I thought I’d share with you my favourite 4-ingredient cookie recipe. It’s perfect for whipping up on a Sunday night, so you have healthy treats/snacks to snack on through out the week.
Now that we’re all getting cold in Sydney (and by cold I mean the weather has changed to 22C/71F, and Sydney-siders are wimps), it’s lovely to have some comfort food options that aren’t going to make the anticipation of bikini season super stressful.
There’s no denying that avocado is the best breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack food available.
But who says it can’t be used as a dessert?
Certainly notme (says me and my huge sweet tooth)
Recently I have been playing around with avocado based desserts, and I took inspiration from a post I saw for brownies made for the Ketogenic diet (high fat/protein, low carb).
I ended up modifying the recipe – more towards my taste preferences – and since I’m not following the keto diet, I did add in some honey (which you might want to swap for monk fruit or stevia, if you are looking for lower carb options).
I will admit my first go was very underwhelming. I completely missed the mark on the sweetness, so brownies tasted more like buttery dirt.
But, practice makes perfect, and after many flops I have formulated a avo-brownie recipe that is undeniably healthy. You will need:
1 medium avocado
1/4 cup nut butter – I love peanut Mayver’s butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cacao nibs
2 tbsp warm honey (less sticky)
Mix everything (except cacao nibs) together in a blender until it is smooth and creamy, and press into a brownie pan. Sprinkle the cacao nibs and cinnamon on top.
Okay, so I think we all know Cinnabon’s aren’t the definition of health. But, I wanted to devise a recipe which was just as yummy, but didn’t use up half my daily caloric intake (the average store-bought cinnabon has 880 calories).
When my cinnabon craving first hit, I was scrolling through recipes that took about 3 hours to prepare and bake. That was simply too long and I knew I had to find a (cheaters) quicker version.
So, here’s the cheat sheet to my 45 minute, Plant Based (and still delicious) Cinnabons:
2.75 cups of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package instant yeast = 2.25 teaspoons
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp ground chia seeds + 3 tbsp water
0.5 cup pureed dates (1/4 cup water)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 medium apple finely chopped
coconut oil as a base
Time: 45 minutes, Serves: 8, Calories: 294 each.
preheat oven to 100C
mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast together in a bowl
heat water, almond milk and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds
add chia seeds, milk/oil mixture and flour mixture together and knead with hands until dough forms – set aside for 5 minutes
Roll out the dough on baking paper into a rectangle
Spread the coconut oil and pureed dates on the rolled out dough
Sprinkle the apple and almonds on top
Roll the dough into a log, and cut into 8 even segments
Put each segment into greased baking tins.
Put into the oven, and turn the oven off. Leave in rolls there for 20 minutes.
These did come out looking more like Patrick Star than Xmas creations, but they tasted better than you can imagine.
Okay so yes I used a store bought packet mix (Betty Crocker wins every time) as the base, but, there was a twist. For a sprinkle of Christmassy festivity, I added a hint of smooth choccy flavour by adding chocolate chips to the dough, and created star designs with specific cookie cutters.
Read on if you’re interested in my simple, yet divinely tasty XMAS cookies, or better, create them yourself in 20 minutes.
Gather the following:
Betty Crocker Salted Carmel Packet Cookie Mix
Note: This is limited edition packet mix – hence why I grabbed it in Woolworths. If you aren’t able to get your hands on it, try adding Hershey’s caramel choc chips to a plain cookie recipe.
Cadbury choc chip cookies
Star cookie cutter
Okay, so the method:
Mix all the ingredients together, until you form a cookie dough.
Use a rolling pin to knead the dough out on top of an acrylic/plastic/stone surface.
Here’s where it got a little more complicated. I’m currently experiencing an Australian summer, so naturally the sun was beating down at 30˚C, which made all my cookie dough melt and stick to my hands. So, I wrapped it in cling wrap and popped it in the freezer for 5 mins to make it think it was in the northern hemisphere. Note: this might be a good idea if you are in a hot climate.
Cut little star shapes out with the cookie cutter.
As the cookie cutter will make the raw cookies a lot thinner and smaller than Betty Crocker recommends for cookie sizing, you only have to place them in the oven for 8 minutes at 180˚C (350˚F), so they don’t burn.
Madang. The Korean BBQ restaurant thats revered in Sydney. I had to try it.
For those that don’t know, Korean BBQ is where you get given deliciously marinated raw meats (of your choosing) and get to cook them at the dinner table. Yep, your table turns into a frying pan, where you whip up your meal and garnish it with lots of tasty condiments including spicy kimchi and seaweed, potato mash, soy paste, fish cake, miso paste and more.
You could be very adventurous and get sliced ox tongue, but since my dining partner screwed her nose up at that, we opted to share Dweji Bul Go Gi (marinated pork) and Bul Go Gi (beef in traditional Korean sauce), with the Jang Uh Gui Jungsik (grilled & marinated eel). My final verdict was that the table service was fantastically attentive, and I could not fault the tender, juicy Bul Go Gi and Jang Uh Gui Jungsik, but the pork made me feel a little funny so I only tried a few pieces.
This was a lot of meat to take in for one day, so if you’re planning on heading to Korean BBQ for dinner maybe prepare your stomach by making your other meals that day a little smaller (I forgot to do this and didn’t feel great walking home because I was so full, but as always, no regrets).
It was also so exciting to walk out the restaurant and realise that Madang is located in the middle of a little Korea-town. Left, right and centre there were Korean restaurants dotted about that I’m now dying to try out (I’ll keep you updated with my Korean cuisine tasting adventures).
We finished off the night with an epic froyo. I forgot to snap a pic of it, but imagine this: chocolate and strawberry frozen yogurt, loaded up with cookie dough, chocolate chips, tim tams, oreos, chocolate wafers, and strawberries. Mouth watering? I thought so.
Note: Madang was said to be the best by The Urban List, one of my go-to sources for dining information around the city (you have to check it out if you are in Sydney).
I also had a random craving for chocolate cake this week.
I don’t know where the urge came from, but suddenly I was taking myself up and out of bed, disregarding the fact that I had already brushed my teeth, and into the pantry to find the Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake mix.
This cake gives me serious nostalgia because throws me straight back to being about six or seven and baking it on a Sunday afternoon with mum. Betty Crocker Cakes have a unique taste, and anyone who’s grown up with her cake mixes knows that Betty Crocker Icing is, without a doubt, the best.
It was so much fun to just splurge and spontaneously treat myself by baking a simple cake for no occasion. I finished decorating it around 1:00am and I can’t express the satisfaction of sitting on the couch afterward savouring a big piece with a cup of tea.
Comment below if you did anything spontaneous this week!
You know when you have that sudden craving to bake? Well I experienced this at about 11pm last night and I just had to go with it.
I usually head straight for the cacao and medjool dates to make something super chocolatey-infused, gooey and sweet, but for some reason today my eye caught the two overripe bananas that were sitting on the kitchen ledge.
So, I preheated the oven to 180˚C and gathered together what I could find in the pantry for my filling banana and almond muffins. These can be made vegan and are gluten free.
I just popped the dry ingredients into a blender, whisked them together (make sure the oats are ground into a fine powder) and poured them into a bowl. Then I blended the wet ingredients together to form a runny mixture, which I combined in the bowl with the dry ingredients.
Next I mixed all the ingredients together in the bowl, and placed about 2 heaped spoonfuls of mixture into 8 lined cupcake tins. All they needed was around 30 minutes in the oven (check with a skewer – no mixture residue should be on it when you poke it through the middle of a muffin), and they were done. Voila!
When I realised Father’s Day was fast approaching, I had the usual annual freak out… What am I going to buy Dad? Is there anything he’s mentioned he wants? Is there anything I know he’ll like?
The freak out is due to Dad never wanting anything material, as he always says he would much prefer a hug (odd, I know). Since I’m not going to just wake up on the big day, give him a hug, and consider my job done, I decided this year I’d cook a big lunch with all his favourite meals.
I kept it super simple. Dad’s favourites are the simple dishes; lasagne, sausages, chops, lamb shanks, vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate… you get it.
So, I decided to do lasagne, with a twist.
Cheesy Eggplant Lasagne. Think gooey cheese, creamy chickpeas and aromatic tomato arranged together to create a steaming Italian comfort food.
The eggplant soaks up all the delicious creamy tomato sauces and becomes a soft mess that tastes divine with the chickpea/almond meal base and cheese oozing through out. This went perfectly with a simple side salad.
For dessert, we enjoyed my favourite Healthy Apple Crumble recipe with Connoisseur white chocolate/raspberry ice cream (hands down our favourite store bought ice cream).
I finished the lunch by giving Dad a letter I had written with Lindt’s creme brulee milk chocolate – a Lindt flavour I haven’t seen before but I hope they keep stocking the shelves with it because it was the perfect mix of crispy caramel notes and creamy milk chocolate.
Even though we kept it simple, it was nice to enjoy a home cooked meal, instead of the usual big fancy thing we do at a restaurant.
Today was Mother’s Day, and to treat Mum I decided to prepare a lovely Sunday lunch that she enjoyed.
As usual, it took way longer to prepare than I expected. I woke up at 9am and immediately started baking, and was going flat out until 1pm when lunch was served.
For the meal I decided to do wine-braised chicken (with white wine, carrots, red onion, rosemary, red grapes and pine nuts), and an asparagus & grilled halloumi salad.
I do enjoy baking, but I’m not too good when it comes to experimenting, so I stuck fast to Jamie Olivers recipes from his cookbook. I’ve found that if you really follow the recipes he gives you will produce delicious meals that taste like they’re actually restaurant quality.
For dessert, I went all out with Mum’s favourite cake – a white chocolate mud cake. I always use the Taste recipe when I make the cake, but I halve the mixture because the amount they prescribe actually makes 2 regular sized cakes (you could definitely stick with the actual quantities and pile the 2 cakes on top of each other with creamy ganache in the middle).
It was a lovely day, and I treated Mum to a mani-pedi voucher at our local salon, to top the day off.