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

Pancakes: Breakfast with me!

Hands down my favourite breakfast is pancakes (scrambled eggs & avo on toast comes pretty close).

There’s nothing better than soft, fluffy pancakes, complemented by a tower of delicious toppings to start the day.

This morning I woke up with a burning desire for pancakes, and I was lucky enough to have all the ingredients I needed in the fridge.

I like to mix up my pancake toppings: it’s usually a compilation of nut butter (I think I’m addicted to Mayver’s peanut butter), fresh & frozen fruits, maple syrup, chia seeds, coconut yogurt, dried fruit & nuts, or regular vanilla yogurt.

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Today I went with frozen blueberries and a very thick drizzle of peanut butter to go with my pancakes. For the pancakes themselves I blended together 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds, and a pinch of cinnamon and salt.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to address the controversy around almond milk. If you are interested in the alternatives to cow’s milk (note: I still drink cows milk, I just prefer almond milk), you have probably heard whispers about almond milk being part of a fad health craze, and that it isn’t actually good for you. Because this stuff interests me (a lot more than others haha) I investigated almond milk, and whilst it does have far less protein and calcium than soy milk and cows milk, it is a great option if you are looking for something lighter to go with a protein dense meal (such as peanut butter drenched pancakes hehe).

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This was the final product: my incredibly tasty breakfast this morning, that I already want to make again. Please also enjoy the finger painted plate I crafted when I was four years old.

Hope you have a lovely Friday leading into an even better weekend. I’ve got lots planned – this one’s meant to be sunny in Sydney!! Stay tuned for more recipes and adventures 🙂

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 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 found Vegan Yum Cha and it didn’t disappoint 

Vegan Yum Cha. When you first hear it something doesn’t sound quite right. Doesn’t Yum Cha involve selections of pork buns, prawn/pork dumplings, beef entrails, spiced meat balls, chicken wrapped in lotus leaf (the meat-involved list goes on)?

The Green Gourmet offers a totally plant-based Yum Cha menu. From fake-Beijing-duck wraps and chia seed ‘prawn’ dumplings to BBQ-not pork buns and taro meat balls, they have it all.

From the outside, the restaurant doesn’t look like much. A (very green) hole in the wall, sitting on the Pacific Highway amongst the barking traffic, it’s a gem only locals know about. Inside soft music plays, customers sit at quaint wooden tables and the delightfully tasty food is served by accommodating 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 if you ask me).

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 compliment 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.

Do note that 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.

Safe to say it was delicious and I would recommend to anyone in the area!

xx

I finally gave up coffee… How do I stay awake?

About a month ago, I was a coffee addict. I lived on four cups a day, and swore by the stuff for better mental acuity, increased cheeriness, and the ability to stay wired all day and complete everything I had packed into my schedule without being dreary and tired.

Unfortunately, the $4.50 I dished out for a small soy Capp (around 2 times a day) just wasn’t agreeing with my bank account.

After realising I was spending $60 per week on coffee I decided I was going 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 migraines were terrible. For about three days I regretted every life choice that had ever led me to taking a sip of the stuff. 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 awakening, buzzing effect it gave me. Here is a list of the alternatives I’ve gone for that do the job.

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Green Tea

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 grass), however, The English Tea Shop has a wonderful range of organic & free trade, herbal teas that are delicately delicious.

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Kombucha

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…

Dark Chocolate 

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.

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Coconut Water

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.

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I’m also interested in trying coffee 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.

Now, 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):

Do you have any good coffee alternatives?

xx

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Rich, Coffee Brown

 

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

Healthy Almond-Cacao Protein Balls

Despite being flat out with uni exams at the moment, this Sunday I’m going to share the easy recipe I use for my cocoa protein balls. Unfortunately, my phone camera doesn’t do them justice – they look more like dung balls here – but trust me, they are delicious.

Protein balls are fantastic as a filling, healthy snack. Just try not to go crazy on them (they are very moreish). I use coconut oil because it much more filling compared to lots of other cooking oils, and seems to help stick them together.

Each ball has about 205 calories and is dense with healthy fats and protein to make it the perfect snack.

My recipe makes 5. You will need:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 50g sultanas
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

  1. Put all dry ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Put peanut butter and coconut oil in the microwave for 1 minute
  3. Pour peanut butter/coconut oil mixture into dry ingredients and mix with spoon.
  4. Using your hands form the mixture into 5 little protein balls
  5. Place in fridge for an hour
  6. Enjoy!

xx

Let me know if you try the recipe out!