Reading over and editing this post I realised how many times I used the word Spring. I’m sorry but unfortunately Oxford dictionary doesn’t have any good alternatives.
We’re getting to the end of Spring over here in Australia, and although I’m excited about the beachy climate that summer is bringing, it’s sad to see those cool, breezy Spring days fade away.
Because Spring is the season before Summer, it’s the time every gym membership goes on sale, Halloween stashes quickly get thrown out, and green smoothies and salads are glorified.
The idea of munching on a bowl of bitter green leaves drizzled with vinaigrette sounds highly unappetizing to me, but with the right ingredients they can taste great and they ensure you are packing your daily greens in.
So, I created the perfect Spring salad, with protein, healthy fats and a range of different flavours.
You will need:
1 medium tomato – reduce risk of heart disease and cancer
135g tinned salmon – rich in omega 3 fatty acids and a great source of protein.
Mixed green lettuce leaves
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Heaped tsp of dried chia seeds – high in omega 3s, fibre, and provide a delicious crunch to the dish.
An all salad restaurant sounds like the type of thing I would politely decline. Although I love eating healthy and exploring nutritious food options, I don’t advocate eating solely lettuce as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I sound like a salad hater, and that’s only because the salads on restaurant menus are usually comprised of whole cherry tomatoes, 3 salad leaves and a weak amount of dressing if you’re lucky.
If a salad can be done deliciously.. I’m all in.
Greenhouse Asian Salads has just opened in Sydney and offers a range of exotic salads, which experiment with green tea noodles, chicken wontons, green papaya, white sesame and more.
I decided to head over because reading the menu, every single option had a mix of flavours that sounded mouth-watering.
I opted for the Green House #1, a vegan salad with tofu, green tea noodle, avocado, cucumber, carrot, red radish, cashews and sesame seeds. However, what made it wonderful was the coconut soy dressing. This tied the whole dish together with a sweet tang that left me wanting more.
Mum went for the Naughty Tuna, which was delicious – a mix of tuna, green tea noodles, edamame soybeans and cashews with wasabi dressing.
Unexpectedly this café trumped a lot of dining places I’ve been to this year, many of which have menus that offer a range of wonderfully diverse cuisines and dishes.
So, I’ll take back my salad prejudice and highly recommend this very green, very healthy and VERY yummy lunch destination.
Madang. The Korean BBQ restaurant that’s revered in Sydney. I had to try it.
In Korean BBQ you get given deliciously marinated raw meats (of your choosing) and 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 such as 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). The table service was very attentive, and I would recommend the tender Bul Go Gi and Jang Uh Gui Jungsik. The pork wasn’t my thing, I had a couple of bites and didn’t’ LOVE it.
This was a lot of meat (and therefore a lot of protein) to have in one meal, so if you’re planning on heading to Korean BBQ for dinner prepare your stomach by making your other meals that day a little smaller (I forgot to do this and afterwards felt like I was going to pop from all the food inside).
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. Seoul-Ria, Basax Korean Chicken and Dining and Arisun are on my ‘to go to’ list.
I finished off the night with and an epic froyo. Imagine this: chocolate and strawberry frozen yoghurt, loaded with cookie dough, chocolate chips, tim tams, oreos, chocolate wafers, and strawberries. Mouthwatering? 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.
Usually, I try to make a natural ingredients cake with cacao, banana, and maple syrup (a delicious recipe I will share soon). However, this day nostalgia was calling me and I whipped up my childhood favourite: Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake mix.
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 it was so satisfying to sit on the couch afterwards 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 stayed up until midnight baking & feasting away.
I usually head straight for the cacao and dates to make something super chocolatey, fudgy 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 banana and almond muffins. These can be vegan and are gluten free.
I used almond meal instead of ordinary flour, as it is high in protein and vitamin E – providing essential nutrients whilst filling you up (read more here). The bananas are the perfect natural sweetener, and they provide a sweet note as well as potassium and fibre.
I 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 to form a runny mixture, which I combined in the bowl with the dry ingredients.
I placed about 2 heaped spoonfuls of mixture into 8 lined cupcake tins. All they needed was 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 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
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.