Mmm a smoothie is the perfect breakfast when you wake up on a hot day.
A lot can go into a smoothie (and sometimes I do go a bit overboard), so it’s important to fill them with beneficial ingredients. Sometimes I can go a bit overboard on the cacao powder and peanut butter that the smoothie isn’t as nutritious as I had hoped (still healthy relative to a thick shake).
Below is my recipe for a quick, healthy and FILLING smoothie for breakfast. This thing keeps me full until lunch, and I’ve made sure I packed it full of ingredients with wonderful health benefits.
It’s the perfect smoothie if you’ve had an indulgent week (or perhaps a big night) and you want to boost your system with beneficial vitamins and minerals.
You will need:
1 cup spinach – high in protein, fibre, vitamins.
1 tsp turmeric – contains curcumin which increases your immune.
1/4 cup almond milk – rich in protein and calcium.
1/2 cup blueberries – antioxidants combat ageing and boost cognition.
1/2 cup strawberries – source of manganese and potassium.
1/2 banana – great for your daily intake of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium.
1 tbsp chia seeds – loaded with nutrients for hardly any calories.
1 tbsp greek yoghurt – makes you feel full and has great probiotics (The Wise Bunny has great Dairy alternatives)
If you have any good smoothie recipes please share them with me! I’d love to try them.
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?
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’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.
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!
After stopping swimming last year I picked up quite a bit of weight from uneducated eating habits. I want to stress – there is nothing wrong with excess weight gain. But for me, it was important to get a professionals help with making healthier choices, to reduce my chances of future health complications (read about my weight journey in detail in the About Me section of my blog).
This year, I decided to get a sports dietician to help me with the transition from an athlete’s diet to an active (more normal) 18 year old’s diet.
There are a lot of misconceptions around working with a dietician. A lot of people assume dieticians are helpful only for over-weight people looking to go on a diet. Whilst dieticians do offer this service, they can also help anyone of any weight transition to a healthier lifestyle, work with digestive issues (such as IBS) and allergies, build muscle, work on positive body image, implement meal plans and strategies for eating out, and picking up weight.
In my case, I wanted help transitioning from my younger mindset that was happy eating chocolate for breakfast, to one that was focused on attaining balance with my diet and nutrition.
I focus on BALANCE here because getting a dietician does not mean eating only broccoli and protein powder. My goals were to maintain a healthy weight whilst still incorporating the foods I love.
The hardest part for me is eating out. My friends and I are foodies who love to explore different restaurants in Sydney (Queen Chow, China Doll,Sunset Sabi, Bare Naked Bowls, Laneway Cafe, Turka and Le Bouchon are amongst my favourites!). Of course, enjoying delicious food and exploring new restaurants means that making healthy choices is more difficult. My dietician is working with me to choose options that I still love, but that are more nutritious and rewarding for my body. That being said – a treat night is always okay!
I’ve documented a sample day of eating to give an idea of how I eat.
I started the day with a take on the classic bacon and eggs. I wanted to make sure I had healthy fats as well as a good amount of protein. I had 1 poached egg, cherry tomatoes, 1/2 avocado, 2 bacon rashers fried in coconut oil (try to avoid olive oil for frying – if it gets too hot, it starts to lose it’s health benefits).
I broke up the morning with some honey & ginger tea and a banana.
Then for lunch, I made a delicious chicken stir fry...
To make this you will need:
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1 scrambled raw egg
100g chopped raw chicken
sultanas (just trust me on this one)
1 handful of chopped walnuts
Paprika, Salt, Garlic powder, to season
Place the walnuts in a large frypan on medium heat and drizzle with coconut oil. Place a pan lid over them for 3 minutes.
Whilst the walnuts are toasting, cook the chicken in a separate pan on medium-high heat until cooked through. Add the green beans to the pan with the walnuts and stir fry until green beans are crispy. Add all ingredients into the larger pan and stir fry until egg is cooked. Then reduce heat. Season with paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Enjoy!
Afternoon tea was Natalie’s Health Honey Cinnamon Cookies – I made the batch at the start of the week. I use 1/2 cup stevia instead of the 3/4 cup coconut sugar. If you don’t like stevia – try using mashed bananas or extra honey instead.
Dinner was my sweet potato and chickpea curry. I roasted some sweet potato (see my Roast Pumpkin recipe – substitute sweet potato), and threw it together over medium-high heat with lite coconut milk, cooked quinoa, drained chickpeas, and paprika/garlic/salt. Use 1 cup vegetable stock, if too much liquid evaporates.
Summer or winter I love a smoothie. Having said that, I live in Australia, so winter isn’t that cold.
After lots of experimenting, I have created the perfect smoothie with ingredients that have different benefits for a healthy lifestyle.
You will need:
1/3 cup brewed green tea Green tea is nature’s power drink. It’s packed with anti-oxidants and carries 0 calories. The low doses of caffeine stimulate your system, whilst increasing fat burning and preventing the chance of cancer, infections, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. If you don’t love the taste of pure green tea like myself, finding fun ways to incorporate it into your diet (like through smoothies) is the best way to go.
1/4 cup Natural Yoghurt I love to add a small amount of creamy Jalna yoghurt to make my smoothie thicker. Go for the full-fat version to make sure your smoothie fills you up. Don’t be fooled by half-fat yoghurts – lower fat means more sugar making you hungrier and wanting more. Dairy-free alternatives I like are Cashew/Almond Yoghurt or Coconut Yoghurt.
A Handful of frozen blueberries Blueberries are little bursts of nutrients, full of fibre and vitamins. They help prevent cancer and cholesterol issues and have also been shown to reduce the chance of heart disease.
1/2 a Banana Banana’s are a wonderfully filling, low-calorie snack. They have numerous health benefits, but perhaps the most interesting is that they have been shown to preserve memory due to their levels of vitamin B6.
1 heaped TBSP of Chia Seeds Chia seeds have dominated the clean eating space for as long as I can remember. No wonder… because they have so many health benefits. They have anti-ageing properties, they aid digestion and bone strength. As they can absorb 10x their weight in water, they prolong hydration and improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes.
1 TSP of acai powder See more about the benefits of Acai Powder in my recent post.
1 cup of almond milk I love almond milk! I do believe it’s an acquired taste, but once you learn to love it, you will be using milk that is 40% less calorie-dense than cow’s milk. However, if you are worried about developing lactose intolerance, make sure to still incorporate a moderate amount of dairy in your diet.