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

New Brunch Spots and Health Shots

Thankfully its been warm, sunny weather in Sydney, and as we FINALLY turn into Summer and Uni has finished, I’ve been trying to catch up with all my friends whenever I can around work. For some reason (I’m not complaining) the most convenient thing has been brunch.

I’ve been dotting around Sydney trying some good (and not so good) places. There are a couple I would highly recommend.

Flowerchild is a sweet little cafe in both Brookvale and Chatswood and I’ve managed to go to both in the past fortnight. It’s has a dainty and graceful vibe serving up platters that look more like works of art than meals.

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Flowerchild Brookvale – The vegan bowl: falafel, quinoa, sweet potato, avocado, tomato, almonds, spiced chickpeas, sesame seeds, tahini dressing. Across from me – 12 hour slow braised lamb shoulder.

I’ve also been having the weirdest scone cravings lately – so I hit up The Tea Cosy in the (iconic) Rocks, where we indulged in cheesy scones with smoked salmon, sour cream and chives, alongside some classic scones with strawberry jam, thick cream and Nanna’s Apple Pie Tea (a fruity, warming black tea that reminded me of  Xmas Markets).

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I also tried out Momo Bar in Manly (pictured below) who started the Poké trend in Sydney. I have also had incredible brunches (i.e. A LOT of smashed avo on toast) at Laneway, The North Spoon, Wild Sage and The Bellagio Cafe.

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Momo Bar Manly – Tiki Bowl: edamame, cabbage, seaweed, ginger, onion, carrot and fried shallots, with roasted sesame sauce.

Another thing I’ve caught onto lately is the health shot trend. What’s the purpose you ask? They are meant to prevent you from low immune, and at first I was a little skeptical.

However, after looking into them it actually makes a lot of sense – it’s a little shot packed with all the good-immune-boosting stuff.

I’ve been making my own health shots to accompany morning tea (note: they are incredibly bitter/sour/off-putting and you will need a palette cleansing chaser). I throw kale, mixed leafy greens, water, turmeric, and chia seeds into the blender and down that with a banana (the chaser).

If you’re struggling with low immune, or just want to get all your daily nutrients in one go, it’s something I would definitely try!

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Today is my day off and I’m going to do the last of my Christmas shopping. I’ve already dropped $500 on presents this December, and I still have some bits and pieces I want to pick up. Looks like another expensive day, but it’ll all be worth it when Dec 25th rocks round.

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

Lid & Jar| Cafe Review

I started off this week with breakfast at Lid & Jar in Chatswood. It’s a lovely cafe in a peaceful, contemporary setting with plenty of space to relax and enjoy your meal, but I do find it on the upper end price-wise.

I had a tough time choosing between what I got and their fluffy French toast with bacon drizzled in maple syrup, but in light of all I ate at Easter last weekend, I ended up going for ‘the green bowl’. This was a raw mix of kale, avocado, broccolini, asparagus, zucchini and egg, drizzled with pesto and a sprinkle of quinoa. The meal itself was lovely (but not that filling – I was hungry again a couple of hours later), but I complemented it with a black coffee which (even for a keen coffee fan like myself) tasted incredibly sharp and bitter.

Getting Lost Amongst the Sea Shells

And JUST after we finished up with the Easter long weekend, we were blessed with yet another long weekend due to Anzac day (see the awesome, slightly excessive cookie I baked here).

I was luckily enough to be invited up for a trip to Hawks Nest for the weekend, which is one of my favourite coastal getaways, as it brings back memories of countless holidays I had there as a kid.

It’s just a 2 hour drive from Sydney, and I’ve always had a secret love for the peacefulness of car trips, but I did bring my book The Girl on the Train to help pass the time. Side note on the book: it’s incredible. If you haven’t read it, make sure you do, although beware it’s very addictive and easy to get lost in. Or, take the lazy route and watch the movie, because it’s one of the few films that is as exciting as the book.

We were only up at the holiday house for 3 days, and in that time we grabbed night-time ice creams, went for walks on the beach where I practiced my photography on the seashells, did bike rides, went for ocean swims and did a bunch of bush walks. Below is a pic I snapped on a cycle to Winda Woppa, which I took just as the sun was setting. The scenery was breath-taking, and I really took a moment to soak it all up.

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My favourite day by far was bang in the middle when we took the speedboat out for the day. The best feeling in the world is having a salty ocean breeze dancing on my face and hair, and this was perfect with the sun shining down and warming us up. We sped around the bay admiring the houses and beaches in the Nelson’s Bay area and stopped to grab coffees at a cute little dockside coffee station at midday. We wrapped up the day at Tea Gardens (neighbouring suburb) and sat at a quaint cafe for tea and scones which were delicious.

I had a divine weekend and was a little upset when it was over so quickly. I’m already excited to go back and if you ever get the chance to go to Hawks Nest, it’s the perfect place for a beachside holiday in a location that isn’t too built-up or populated.

xx