Can you believe it? Healthy Cinnabon Rolls

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:

Dough: 

  • 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

Filling:

  • 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.

Method: 

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.

Turn the oven to 200C and bake for 20 mins

xx

Clare

A salad to suit the season?

Reading over and editing this post I realised how many times I used the word Spring. It starts to sound funny if you say it too many times, 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, holidaying climate that summer is bringing, it’s sad to see those cool, breezy Spring days go.

Because Spring is the season before Summer, here in the Southern Hemisphere, its 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 I am reminding myself not to be too cynical about salads – with the right ingredients they can taste great, and they do have numerous health benefits.

So this Spring I worked with some of my favourite ingredients to create the perfect Spring salad.

You will need:

  • 1 medium common tomato
  • 135g tinned salmon
  • Mixed green lettuce leaves
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Heaped tsp of dried chia seeds
  • 100g chopped canned beetroot
  • 50g avocado

Cost: approximately AUD $10   Calories: 380

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Perfect! xx

A café that only sells salads??? My verdict.

When mum said she wanted to take me out to a salad restaurant I immediately started devising ways I could politely decline.

The salads on restaurant menus are usually comprised of three basic ingredients (some dressing if you’re lucky), and its always the choice that makes everyone else at the table feel uncomfortable.

Greenhouse Asian Salads has just opened in Sydney and offers a range of exotic salads, which experiment with multiple ingredients such as green tea noodles, chicken wontons, green papaya, white sesame and more. For some reason, reading the menu, every single option seemed to have a mix of flavours that sounded absolutely mouth-watering.

I felt like being vegetarian for the day (since I’ve been on a bit of a meat-craze lately), and 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 really 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 I tried (okay, maybe I wasn’t 100% vegetarian), and it was delicious – a mix of tuna, green tea noodles, edamame soybeans and cashews with wasabi dressing.

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Unexpectedly (I will admit) 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 dishes.

So, I’ll take back all my salad prejudices and highly recommend this very green, very healthy and VERY yummy lunch destination.

Let me know if you try it out!

xx

Trying the Best Korean BBQ in Sydney & MIDNIGHT Baking…

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.

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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.

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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!

xx

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Calypso Blue for spontaneity

 

 

Banana and Almond Muffins? Yes pleaaassee | Recipe

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.

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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 found:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Sprinkle of salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (use an egg replacer for the vegan option)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp almond milk (or any milk of your choosing)

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!

xx

Nutritional Breakdown (per serve):

  • 137 calories/572 kilojoules
  • 5.0g Protein
  • 8.5g Fat (0.8g Saturated)
  • 9.0g Carbs
  • 43mg Sodium

A Home Cooked Meal for Fathers Day

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

xx

 

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Cascade Blue for Father’s Day

 

 

 

Why The Rocks is my Dream Dining Destination

The reason The Rocks hits number one on my list of favourite places to dine in Sydney, is because of how many OUTSTANDING restaurants, bars and cafés it has to offer. What makes it better is that they each have a different atmosphere, their own perks, and are just a 2 minute walk from the iconic harbour.

If you only had one night in the city, I would tell you to head to El Camino Cantina. A Tex-Mex restaurant with oversized margaritas and tapas share platters (think crispy tacos, sizzling quesadillas and nachos dripping in cheese) it’s a destination you can’t miss.

I went here for dinner with a friend the other night, and was blown away. 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.

Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without a couple of cheeky cocktails. Their oversized glasses (the picture below doesn’t do it justice) make the experience even more exciting… and a little hazy (I blame the tequila). I went with a Classic Frozen MargaritaHere Comes the Sun with tequila and orange juice and Sympathy for the Devil with ginger beer, lime and jalapeño syrup.

Next time I’ll be sure to taste their churros, which come with cinnamon sugar, Mexican caramel, and are apparently to die for.

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 in a traditional and festive fashion. 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 my favourite has to be the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café, where I usually finish the night with a dark chocolate raspberry cheesecake, or a milk chocolate mousse with macadamia cremeux. These desserts don’t just taste amazing, their presentation is magnificent and sometimes difficult to destroy (check out the menu for pictures).

Or, if you’re feeling like a real cheat night, head on over to Pancakes on The Rocks, a revered dessert venue 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

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Harbour Shadow Blue for wonderful food by Sydney harbour.

I tried being Vegan for a week

Yes I decided to go vegan for a week, and no I didn’t die of malnourishment.

I’ve always been interested in trying out different diets I hear about (Banting, Paleo, Vegetarian, Mediterranean you name it). Except I’ve always had a hard time with veganism.

For some reason the stereotype of the vegan diet being bland, boring and difficult to cater for has always put me off. This past week, 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.

Sunday DAY ONE

I’ll start here by admitting that the vegan diet was meant to start yesterday (Saturday). However come Saturday lunch time, 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. Perusing the menu (naively expecting to find multiple vegan-friendly options) 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 (no butter please) 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/haloumi – 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 as to not inconvenience her.

Hint 2: Perhaps offer to cook/bring your own dishes to others houses, if you’d like to be invited back.

Tuesday DAY THREE 

I had work all morning and decided to treat myself by going out for a late lunch afterward (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, snowpeas, 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 definitely 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 all the way to 4pm.

I realised here that I was half way 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 dairy and animal products be working?

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Brunch ~ Homemade Butternut Cashew Pasta, kale salad, roast tomato, 1/4 avocado

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 close 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 almost made it… I thought I’d definitely 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 my favourite Indian restaurant, Cumin. I went with the Dal Tadka (a staple favourite of mine), knowing that it was 100% vegan and 100% delicious. A perfect end to the week.

The Verdict: I have to say, as much as I would have liked to come out of this week as a hardcore vegan promoter, I just don’t think I could keep it up. I had a wonderful week exploring new food options and meals, and I genuinely respect the lengths vegan’s go to, to protect animals, their health and the environment (read more here). 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 butters, nut milks, soy milks and egg replacers) and to cut down on my meat intake. 

Do you have any diets you swear by? Let me know xx

Healthy Homemade Pizza (recipe) & Movie Night

Usually when it’s my turn to cook, I try to whip up something a little fancier for a bit of challenge – Thai green curry, lamb roast, or laksa for example (when I say fancy, I mean fancy by my terms).

Tonight I decided to keep it simple and throw together a pizza, with what turned out to be quite an eclectic mix of toppings (a tasty mix nonetheless).

The idea to make pizza’s started brewing in my mind when I spotted wholemeal pizza bases in the grocery aisles.

From there I meandered around the supermarket, grabbing ingredients which I thought would go together – butternut pumpkin (pre-diced), asparagus, basil, low-fat mozzarella, a tomato, roasted peri peri chicken slices, shallots and an 85c tin of champignon mushrooms (the mushrooms were a bit random, but the 85 cent bargain got me).

The best part was that it was only 15 minutes from when I started cooking to when I served the meal. This was ideal as I can’t stand that irritating feeling that comes around 7pm, when all you want is dinner but you still have to cook it.

After winging the recipe for a tomatoey-ish sauce by blending 3 tbsp greek yogurt, basil and 1 whole tomato, I covered the base with the sauce and arranged the assorted ingredients on top. 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 would highly recommend (funny, clever and heartwarming).

Ingriedients 

  • Pre-made wholemeal pizza base
  • Butternut pumpkin
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Low-fat (optional) mozzarella
  • Tomato
  • Roasted slices of Peri Peri chicken
  • Shallots
  • Tin of Champignon mushrooms
  • Greek yogurt
  • Basil

xx

A Safari in South Africa

Upon travelling to South Africa I was removed from the humdrum busy-ness of Sydney city and placed in a world of vast green landscapes with lots of sunshine and animals roaming freely.

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Staying at a beautiful little cottage-like guesthouse called Heritage House, which was in a close-by town called St. Lucia, we traveled to game parks, reserves, beaches and estuaries each day to see the wildlife.

The customer service at Heritage House was divine. We were greeted with an offering of tea and coffee complimented by delicious date & coconut balls, traditional homemade buttermilk rusks (which I’m dying to try baking at home) and dark chocolate truffles.

Each morning there was full breakfast served. Upon arrival to brekkie we were immediately asked how we would like our eggs (sunny side up please) and then promptly a large plate of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, onion, and toast would arrive. On the side we had a buffet of cocktail glasses filled with greek yogurt/berry compote/muesli alongside more toast, spreads, tea, coffee, juice, buttermilk rusks and cereal.

I could wax lyrical about the delightful food available, but undoubtedly the best part of the trip was the time we spent at Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Game Park, just one hour or so from where we were staying. We woke at

That day we woke at 5am and were driven in a safari truck by a local Zulu tour guide named Tsebo (pronounced with a click of the tongue at the beginning), who was so passionate about the animals and plant life that it made the day even more enjoyable.

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We spent the day spotting animals, had some hair-raising encounters with moody elephants in musth, and (astoundingly) managed to see all of the Big 5 – African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros.

Here is some of what I managed to capture, even though most of the time I was so in awe of the animals I forgot about taking pictures:

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xx

 

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Savannah Red, for AFRICA