When I realised Father’s Day was approaching, I had the annual freak out… What am I going to buy Dad? Is there anything he’s mentioned he wants?
The reality is that Dad never says what he wants and says he’d be happy with a card. Since I’m not going to just wake up, toss him a card and consider my job done, I decided this year I’d cook a big lunch.
I kept it super simple. Dad’s favourites are the plainer dishes; lasagne, sausages, chops, lamb shanks, vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate…
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 healthier twist on Italian comfort food.
The eggplant soaks up all the delicious creamy tomato sauces and becomes a soft mess that tastes incredible with the chickpea/almond meal base and cheese oozing throughout.
For dessert, we enjoyed my favourite Healthy Apple Crumble recipe with Connoisseur white chocolate/raspberry ice cream (you could go for Halo Top for a lower calorie alternative, Connoisseur is Dad’s favourite).
I also sourced a block of Lindt’s creme brulee milk chocolate – a Lindt flavour I haven’t seen before. I hope they keep stocking the shelves with it because it was the perfect mix of crispy caramel and creamy milk chocolate.
Even though we kept it simple, it was nice to enjoy a home cooked meal. What did you do for Father’s Day?
The reason The Rocks is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sydney is because of how many diverse restaurants, bars and cafés it has to offer. What makes it better is that each restaurant has a different cuisine, atmosphere, quirks, and is just a 2 minute walk from the iconic harbour.
If you only had one night in the city, I would tell you to first head for drinks at Grain, a dimly lit cocktail bar next to the Four Seasons. What they do best is a range of exotic cocktails; I recommend Alexander’s Fizz or Sunburn, if you want to give some strangely delicious drink combinations a go.
If you are feeling Tex-Mex, head to El Camino Cantina. They serve up oversized margaritas and tapas share platters (think crispy tacos, sizzling quesadillas, nachos dripping in cheese and churros), AND they have unlimited corn chips and salsa which is always a win.
The walls are adorned with Mexican themed collectables and animation-style art, giving the place a groovy, retro vibe. We went for the Cadillac Platter which served up a selection of chilli chicken wings, jalapeño poppers, tuna ceviche tacos, guacamole, chicken and cheese quesadilla, and chilli con carne – which tasted as good as it sounds.
If Mexican isn’t your thing, head over to Zia Pina Pizzeria, owned by the same family for the past 3 decades (there’s a reason why their food is so good). I would recommend the Zucca pizza with cheese, tomato base, grilled pumpkin, olives, parmesan cheese and rocket, or the Veal Gnocchi.
There’s also the Munich Brauhaus which does Bavarian food traditionally and festively. The wait staff are dressed in dirndls and lederhosen, serving up house-made sausages, freshly baked pretzels, schnitzels, crispy pork belly, and of course, lots of beer.
For dessert, you have to head to the iconic Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café, for desserts which both taste and look amazing. I recommend the dark chocolate raspberry cheesecake or a milk chocolate mousse with macadamia cream.
Or, if you’re feeling like a real treat night, head over to Pancakes on The Rocks, a well-known dessert chain which does pancakes every way you can think. My favourite is the decadent Black Forest Cherry, which involves chocolate pancakes with cherries, brandy sauce, creamy chocolate ice cream and chocolate chips, all doused in chocolate sauce.
Leave comments below if you know any other great places at The Rocks! I’d love to check them out xxx
Wait… doesn’t Yum Cha involve selections of pork buns, prawn/pork dumplings, beef entrails, spiced meatballs, chicken wrapped in lotus leaf?
The Green Gourmet offers a plant-based Yum Cha menu. From fake-Beijing-duck wraps and chia seed ‘prawn’ dumplings to BBQ-not pork buns and taro meatballs, they have it all.
From the outside, the restaurant doesn’t look like much. A (green) hole in the wall, sitting on a major Highway amongst the barking traffic. It’s a gem only locals know about. Inside soft music plays, customers sit at homely wooden tables and the tasty food is served quickly by the friendly staff.
My cuisine craving this week was Chinese. After visiting 45 Broughton Chinese Takeaway on Wednesday night for delicious stir fried black fungi & greens in oyster sauce, sweet & sour chicken, (real) pork buns and San Choy Bow, by Saturday I wanted more.
My friend and I decided to order a Green Gourmet feast whilst doing a Harry Potter movie marathon (the perfect combination).
We ordered the Deluxe Gourmet Entrée which, for $32 together, gave us a selection of BBQ-not-pork satay skewers, ‘oyster’ (mushroom) fritters, steamed dumplings and burdock salad. To complement the entrée range we ordered stir fried veggies in soy sauce, shangtung-not-chicken and finished the meal off with peppermint tea and dark chocolate.
The Green Gourmet also does a fantastic selection of homemade vegan desserts; ‘monkey choccy’ sponge cake, lemon and berry ‘cheesecake’, Oreo chocolate cake (to name a few). But we didn’t have much of a sweet tooth that night so decided to give them a miss.
The Green Gourmet has two locations – St Leonards and Newtown. If you’re in the area definitely give it a try!
I seem to go through phases of being a coffee addict, and then cutting down to one a day.
A month ago I lived on four cups a day and swore by the stuff for mental acuity, increased cheeriness, and the ability to stay wired all day and complete everything I had packed into my schedule without being dreary.
Unfortunately, the $4.50 I was dishing out left right and centre for a small almond Capp just wasn’t agreeing with my bank account.
After realising I was spending $60 per week on coffee I knew I had to quit. I waited until university exams were over (or else I would jeopardise any chance of late night study) and went cold turkey on quitting coffee…
I won’t dress it up. The headaches and irritability were terrible.
I began my coffee cleanse as I went on holiday to South Africa, and spent the 14 hour flight over unable to watch movies, eat food or chat to anyone as I was trying to escape the withdrawal headache with Panadol.
Luckily for me (and everyone around me), after about 24 hours the pain had eased off, and after 3 days I was free of irritability, headaches and intense coffee cravings.
Even a month on, I do miss the rich, smooth, bitter-sweet taste of a freshly brewed Cappuccino, but more than that I miss the mentally stimulating effect it gave me. Here is a list of the alternatives I’ve gone for that do the job.
I have recently become a green tea enthusiast. I can never stomach the taste of the original green tea from tea bags (tastes like I’m munching on field of grass), however, The English Tea Shop has a wonderful range of organic & free trade, herbal teas that are delicately delicious. Although Green Tea does have a bit of caffeine, it’s much cheaper than coffee and doesn’t give me the jitters that coffee gives.
You may not be familiar with Kombucha. It’s a fermented drink made from black tea, that’s known for boosting immunity, and has a very low-calorie content. It also gives me the kick I need before my 9am lectures.
Aside from its glorious taste, Dark Chocolate also has a fair bit of caffeine which usually does the trick. I’ll snack on a piece of dark choccy in the afternoon if I’m feeling lethargic. As well as that, it’s a powerful source of antioxidants which fight harmful radicals in the body.
A very refreshing alternative to water, coconut water is taken from the fresh green coconuts (before it turns to milk) and serves as a boost in the form of sugar and electrolytes.
I’m also interested in trying latte alternatives like turmeric/dark chocolate/beetroot/matcha lattes when I’m out for brekkies and brunches. I know The Porch has a range of these options, so I’m planning on going there soon.
Having said all that, Australia is known to have some of the best coffee in the world – and whilst I’ve given myself a break from the drink for a while – if you are around Sydney you must grab your fix from my favourite places (some of these are run by coffee connoisseurs who have spent their lives perfecting their signature blends):
I’ve always been interested in trying out different diets I discover (Banting, Keto, Paleo, Vegetarian, Mediterranean you name it). Except I’ve always had a hard time with straight veganism, because of how many food groups it cuts out.
The benefits that the Vegan diet provides to the environment and to animals are undeniable. (If you have any shred of doubt about this check out the facts here).
However, I am sceptical about whether it is a viable option for maintaining balanced nutrition and fuelling my body with everything it needs to function. Whilst I am surethat there are ways to get all required nutrients whilst being vegan, as there are fewer options to choose from, it requires a commitment to ensure that the body is deficient in anything.
To elaborate; when committing to a vegan lifestyle you must ensure you are still getting enough protein (1.3 x your weight in kilograms, in grams), iron, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc.
So, I decided I was only allowed to judge it once I’d given it a go, and try being the all-scary, waiter-frustrating, plant-based eating, VEGAN. For a week.
Sunday DAY ONE
I’ll start here by admitting that the vegan diet was meant to start yesterday (Saturday). However come Saturday lunchtime, with the all-good intentions of being vegan, I bought Dal and Naan from an Indian shop I wasn’t familiar with. When my food arrived I found the Dal was made with creamy ghee butter and the Naan was smothered in cheese. With my steaming Dal and gooey, cheesy naan staring up at me, I decided veganism would have to wait until Sunday.
Hint 1: When ordering out at new places, always ask what ingredients are in dishes.
Sunday, my first day of being vegan. My boyfriend and I went out for brunch at a local cafe that does the generic big brekkies, bircher muesli’s, porridges, pastries etc. for breakfast. I was shocked to find that not one of the twenty-or-so dishes were vegan. I had to Build My Own Brekkie and ordered half an avo, roasted cherry tomatoes, and a slice of toasted sourdough for AU$12.50.
For dinner, I went out with a friend to Coco Cubano, a restaurant that serves flavour-packed Cuban food, including Fajitas, Nachos, Pressed Sandwiches, Burgers, Burritos, Churros and exotic cocktails (reminds me of an up-market Guzman Y Gomez). I went with their quinoa salad – and opted not to have a topping of chicken/steak/halloumi – with a side of guacamole and plain corn chips. My problem: The meal was delicious, but I was still peckish afterwards. I had to have a handful of roasted cashews and almond milk tea to save me rolling about with hunger pains all night…
Monday DAY TWO
I didn’t have any big plans today (eating-wise) but I did have my weekly Game of Thrones night with my friend, where she always cooks dinner for me. I have to admit, I did feel a little uncomfortable mentioning that I was Day Two of my vegan streak, and when I sheepishly mentioned my diet restrictions I realised I had to bring a dish along so I wouldn’t be a pain.
Hint 2: Offer to cook/bring your dishes to other’s houses.
Tuesday DAY THREE
I worked all morning and decided to treat myself by going out for a late lunch afterwards (a habit that’s become a little too regular lately). Usually, I would head for Guzman Y Gomez, Sushi Train, or Grill’d, but I spotted a restaurant that’s recently opened up, called Nudefish Poké. I chose to go with the Down to Earth poké bowl which hosted tofu, mushrooms, beetroot, pickled carrot, ginger, snow peas, radishes and tamari almonds, brown rice and avo in a salty-sweet soy sauce. I definitely wouldn’t have usually chosen this option, but it turned out to be a delicious choice I’ll go for again.
Wednesday DAY FOUR
I was off to uni today, which meant I needed a big, filling breakfast if I was going to last the day without breaking the budget and splurging on another bought lunch. I put together a homemade brunch, taking inspiration from Niomi Smart’s Butternut Cashew Wholemeal Pasta (she calls it vegan Mac n’ Cheese), which filled me up until 4pm.
I realised here that I was halfway through the diet. Had I noticed any changes in my mood/appearance/health? To be fair, I was only four days in, but I had noticed my skin had mysteriously cleared up – it was looking a lot fresher and livelier… could cutting out animal products be working?
Thursday DAY FIVE
Thursday was a full on day of work and uni, but I managed to squeeze in a quick dinner at Sushi Train with a couple of friends. Straying away from my usual sashimi, soft shell crab and tuna/avocado rolls, I went for the avocado seaweed salad (with soy sauce dressing), a large bowl of miso soup packed with creamy tofu, and edamame beans. The meal combo was so good, that I’ve decided I’m going to go for it the next time I’m there, regardless of being vegan or not.
Friday DAY SIX
I’m coming to the end of my seven days, and I’m in shock that I’ve made it so easily… I thought I’d slip up with the temptations of baked goods, Gelato, creamy sauces and chocolates that had been staring at me from shop windows all week.
On the way home from work I stopped by at McDonalds, to check out if the menu had any vegan options – I was expecting to be told that I would only be able to have a glass of water. To my surprise, that was not the case.
Hint 3: The sodas, apple pie, bread, hash brown’s and juices are all vegan approved.
Saturday DAY SEVEN
I’ve come to the end of my vegan week and went out with a bang with dinner at one of my favourite Indian restaurants; Cumin.
The Verdict: I had a wonderful week exploring new food options and meals, and I respect the lengths Vegan’s go, to protect animals, their health and the environment. However, the limitations with ordering out, and the guilt I felt inconveniencing others when I ate at their houses were major drawbacks for me.
However, noticeable changes in my mood, skin and weight (after just one week) has motivated me to look for more animal product alternatives (nut butter, nut mylk, soy mylk and egg replacers) and to cut down on my meat intake.
Do you have any diets you swear by? Let me know xx
On the weekends, I try to whip up something a little fancier than protein and veggies for a bit of a change – Thai green curry, lamb roast, or laksa for example.
Tonight I decided to keep it simple and throw together a pizza. It turned out to have quite an eclectic mix of toppings because I had bits and bobs of leftover food I wanted to use.
I used butternut pumpkin, asparagus, basil, low-fat mozzarella, a tomato, roasted peri peri chicken slices, shallots and a tin of champignon mushrooms (the mushrooms were a bit random.. don’t know if I’d do it again).
For the base, I used Picasso Kitchen Cauliflower Base! It was delicious! Only 282 calories in the entire base. You can also make your own Cauliflower base if you are feeling creative.
The best part was that it was only 15 minutes from when I started cooking to serving the meal. This was perfect because I was having a hungry day and I just wanted to eat!
I winged the tomato sauce by blending 3 tbsp greek yoghurt, basil and 1 whole tomato. All the pizza needed was 10 minutes at 200˚C in the oven before it was ready to eat.
We ate our pizza’s while watching The Intouchables – if you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it.
As mentioned in my previous posts, I am a huge snacker.
To stop me from standing in the pantry and eating everything in sight, I have five healthy snacks that I go for when hunger strikes.
Carrot sticks & Hummous – carrots are my favourite veggie because of their sweetness. I buy Pilpel Hummus to go with them, as it has so much flavour and is basically just chickpeas.
Dried fruit/nut mix – I go for a mix of pecans, pepitas, dried apricots, sultanas and walnuts. The fruits satisfy any sweet cravings and the nuts fill you up.
Carman’s Nut Bar – Carman’s does such a great range of healthy and filling muesli bars. If your local supermarket stocks them I would recommend checking them out. They are the perfect snack, and funnily enough, I got up at 2am the other night because my stomach was rumbling, and the Carmen’s nut bar was the perfect fix to send me back to sleep.
Popcorn – try to avoid popcorns that are doused in butter, just plain corn kernels will do the trick.
Sugarless banana & oatmeal cookies (see recipe below)
Sugarless Banana/Oatmeal Cookies Recipe
I have been making batches of these for longer than I can remember because they are the perfect moreish snack, especially when I’m on the go.
You will need:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sprinkle of salt
1/4 cup olive oil (be ready to add more in case your mixture is too dry)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sultanas
2 soft bananas
1/3 cup pepitas
2 tbsp maple syrup
Handful of pecans (to decorate)
Feel free to add chocolate chunks if that’s your thing – I LOVE Pico Super Dark chocolate to bake with.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Mix the oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, sultanas, bananas and pepitas together in a large bowl. Then, add the olive oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup and stir to combine.
Add extra olive oil until the mixture is cookie dough consistency. Roll into small balls and whack in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes (or until golden brown).
This Easter long weekend I decided to have an Easter Tea Party to celebrate. It was the perfect morning tea to begin the day with family.
I’ve always loved carrot cake, but I thought Carrot Cake Cupcakes are the perfect bite size to still enjoy the carroty-cinnamony flavour.
It’s a well-known wives tale that carrots improve eyesight. Whilst incorporating carrots into your diet won’t give you 20/20 vision, they do have vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants which improve eye health. Cinnamon is a fantastic spice for flavour, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties which boost immune!
I have been trying out all different styles of breakfasts (muesli, toast, bacon & eggs, avo on toast, oats, healthy pancakes, smoothies) to try and find a delicious breakfast that I’m excited for every morning, which is also very filling.
It is so important to have a nutritious first meal of the day. Not only to put you in a good mood, but also for several health reasons. The first meal breaks your overnight fast (hence ‘break fast’), replenishing your glucose levels for the day. This stabilises your blood sugar, improves your memory and concentration, and ensure you don’t head for calorie-dense, unhealthy options at the end of the day.
Whilst different people enjoy their first meal at different times (intermittent fasters might have breakfast at 1pm!), it is important to have a balanced first meal. The savoury option I believe I’ve perfected:
2 scrambled eggs cooked in 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, with a handful of baby spinach
4 cherry tomatoes (you could also add mushrooms, or halloumi if you like!)
1 piece of multi-grain toast
Black tea with almond milk (or herbal tea e.g. peppermint)
This meal has complex carbohydrates in the bread, healthy fat in the avocado, protein in the eggs, and vitamin C, potassium and magnesium in the baby spinach.
To avoid getting tired of having the SAME meal every day, mix the meal up by replacing the egg with 50g of fish, such as tuna, trout or cooked salmon. Or, you can try different types of bread such as wholemeal, rye or sourdough. It’s up to you!