Archive for Food & Health

 

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake + Ice Cream

3 April 2014

Almond Chocolate Cake

I am so in LOVE with this chocolate cake recipe! I’ve made it before, in this blog post, Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake.

I don’t use flour. I use almond meal instead.

I also have been experimenting with the recipe by using less and less sugar each time. I’m down to 70g of sugar, it still tastes amazing and it’s still a winner every time I make it (original recipe asked for 100g).

In this picture, I served it with homemade ice cream, mixed berries and roasted pistachios.

OMG soooo yummy!

Ingredients
100g unsalted butter
140g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
70g of brown sugar
3 eggs separated
140g of almond meal

Toppings
vanilla ice cream
mixed berries
pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

2. Slowly melt chocolate, butter and brown sugar, until smooth. Then let it cool for 5 minutes.
(You can melt it in a bowl over hot water, or melt it in the microwave. I just melt them in a small pot on the stove, on VERY low heat!)

3. Whisk the egg whites until you can make firm peaks when you lift the whisk up.

4. Add the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then stir in the almond meal. Mix until well combined.

5. Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, until well combined. Pour into cake tin.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until your skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for another 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto a plate to cool completely.

7. Add toppings and serve immediately!

Enjoy!!!


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Sushia Izakaya and Bar

28 March 2014

My sister (who lives in London) was in town last week, and I took it upon myself to organise a dinner for 12 of her/our girlfriends. It wasn’t a hen’s party, it was just a simple dinner and gathering where we all could catch up.

She loves Japanese food, so I wanted to find a place that had great food, suitable for large groups, and was a bit special.

I asked local food blogger, Michelle, and she recommended I try out Sushia Izakaya and Bar in Brookfield Place, Perth City. It was perfect!

It was new, modern, stylish, lots of tables and room to move, a great capacity for large groups, and it had a big open kitchen.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

I’m actually not sure what this cold dish was called. See? This is why I’m not a pro food blogger heh.

It was a platter of mini salmon and chicken tacos, and salmon and avocado entrees. And it was yummeh.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

Although there were 12 of us, we kind of split ourselves into 3 groups of 4, and we ordered a few dishes to share between the 4 people. It just made things easier for us to share food.

The Tuna Tataki (Seared tuna, miso aoli and Japanese dry spice – $23) came out and I almost squealed with delight. I love cold Japanese dishes and this looked amazing.

The tuna was so soft and fresh. Its flavours were delicate and delicious. The miso aoli was heavenly!

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

This was the Gyu Tataki (Seared beef with garlic chips, chives, momiji oroshi scallion, ponzu sauce) $21

The beef was aaaaamazing! It was also soft and fresh, and it almost melted in my mouth. There was a bit of crunch from the scallion and a burst of salty and tangy flavours. It was such a joy to eat.

I wish I had to confidence to serve up raw beef at home.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

Then we shared a Gindara Saikyo Yaki (Cod in saikyo miso marinate – $38) which was quite nice. I was told this was one of popular dishes.

However, the fish was not as soft and “fall-aparty” as the previous dishes. I think it could have been due to the fact that the girls and I were talking and talking, that we forgot to eat it straight away, and instead left it on the table (for a good 10 minutes) and it got a bit cold. Nonetheless, I could taste the infused miso flavour and it was really nice.

When all the food arrived, I was afraid that we didn’t order enough, but it was fine in the end. I even had lots of room for dessert.

We shared a Sushia Dessert Platter (which was a nice way to sample a lot of the desserts at once. I didn’t get the names of all the desserts, there was tofu cheesecake, ice cream, red bean pancake, mochi ice cream, chocolate mousse – $35).

I also had a non-alcoholic cocktail, Green Tea Punch (Lemon grass, fresh green tea syrup, fresh lime and apple juice -$14).

Overall it was excellent and I would definitely come back!

Sushia Izakaya and Bar, Perth
Brookfield Place, Basement Laneway
Website:  www.sushia.com.au


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Netball Diaries

18 March 2014

Netball

Last November (four months ago) I started playing NETBALL for the first time in FOREVER.

I used to play in primary school, and I was pretty good. That is, until everyone else hit puberty first and started to GROW TALLER – then I had no chance. In a matter of months I was dropped from the Division A Team (The cream of the crop! All the cool girls!) and plonked in the Division C Team (with all the book nerds…). Sigh, there went my dreams for a top class netball career. Haha just kidding.

So a couple of months ago a bunch of girlfriends asked me if I’d like to play netball with them. They were all beginner level players and just wanted to get together for fitness and fun. I had just spent nine months of cycling training towards a “Cycling 100km for Charity” event, which, I have to be honest, is a very male dominated sport… so I thought WHY THE HELL NOT, I need some SPORTY GIRL TIME.

So that’s how I found myself standing on a netball court, totally clueless and totally petrified on my first netball game in a gazillion years.

I haven’t mentioned anything about my netball adventures on my blog prior to this, because the only thing I had to say back then was:

“I’m short. I’m crap. I have no ball skills. I don’t know how to play in a team. I can’t remember the rules. My arms are weak. I can’t throw. I have no sense of balance or personal space. I have to play against someone? I’m not very good at being aggressive. I don’t like aggressive players. Why are they standing so close to me? I have to jump and throw at the same time? Oh god the coordination requirements are beyond me! OMG I have to cut my fingernails before I play?!?!”

But you know what? I really enjoyed it. My brain loved it.

Even though I was sooo crap at playing netball…. each week, my brain felt like it was growing bigger. It was making new connections and new pathways. The game was so fast paced that literally every 10 seconds, there was a brand new situation in front of me that I had to solve and make my body respond accordingly. It was SO different to cycling, running, weight training and pump classes. It was awesome.

Now?

It’s four months later and I LOOOOVE my weekly netball games.

It’s such a great workout, such a fun thing to do with my group of girlfriends, and it makes me feel awesome. Yay for team sports.

OH and one week I was actually chosen (by the umpires) as the Best Player on the Court!! I was so so so proud of myself!! I zoomed home and squealed at my husband and kids! They thought I was a bit crazy, but they were happy for me because I was beaming!

I have improved a lot over the months. I’m a bit obsessed about it now. I’ve been watching Olympic netball videos, training videos and reading coaching tips online. I’m very motivated to run more during the week, to work on my core and upper body strength… just so I can play better netball hehe.

I even train in the house at night, standing in front of the TV, by jumping up to see if I can touch the ceiling… and I can now! A bit distracting for hubby though.

So here’s to learning something new, working at it bit by bit and totally smashing it!!

Hope you all have a fantastic week!


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Jamie Oliver’s 6-Hour Slow-Roasted Pull-Apart Pork

24 February 2014

Slow-Cooked, Pulled Pork

This is an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s 6-hour slow-roasted pork shoulder, recipe here.

The original recipe talks about cooking pork and roast vegetables. But I wanted to make some kick-ass, slow-cooked gravy too! So I threw in some finely diced vegetables which caramelised and melted into an exquisite puddle of deliciousness – perfect for making gravy.

Ingredients

2 kg shoulder of pork, skin on.
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground

Gravy Vegetables
1 red onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 garlic clove
4 bay leaves
600 ml water

Roast Vegetables
1 red onion, cut into chunky wedges
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
3 celery sticks, chopped into chunks
5 potatoes, quartered

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C

2. Get a sharp knife and make scores in the pork skin and fat, about a centimeter apart (but don’t cut into the meat). Rub a few pinches of salt, pepper and fennel seeds on the skin and underside of the pork.

3. Put the pork in a roasting tray (skin-side up) and surround it with the gravy vegetables, garlic and bay leaves. Pour in 300ml of water and put the tray into the hot oven.

4. Roast for 30 minutes, until the skin of the pork has started to puff up and you can see it turning into crackling.

5. Turn the heat down to 170°C. Wrap the pork and tray in foil and put back into the oven for 4.5 hours.

6. Take off the foil. Baste the pork with the oil that has dripped into the tray.

7. Then add the roasting vegetables. Toss them around into the tray to coat with the pork oil.

8. Keep the tray uncovered. Put back into the oven for 1 hour.

9. Move the pork to a serving dish. Be careful, as the pork might fall apart! Cover with the foil, and leave it to rest. Also take out the chunky roast vegetables out of the pan.

Gravy.
What’s left in the pan will be the reduced, diced vegetables, pork drippings and oil. Carefully skim off ALL of the oil floating on top. There will be a lot! Pour everything that remains into a blender and whizz it all up (you might need to add some water) to make a rich, sweet gravy that tastes like caramelised onion and carrots. Season to taste!

Cooking Notes:
My crackling didn’t work out very well. I think I didn’t blast it in the hot over for long enough, so it didn’t puff up and go crispy. But in the end, I was so disgusted by all the fat and oil (saturated fat is really bad for you!), that I cut off ALL the crackling and fat and refused to serve it to my family. I threw it all in the bin, haha!


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Chocolate Chip Scones

10 February 2014

Chocolate Scones

My 8 year old son (almost 9) made these the other day. He was bored and hanging around in that really annoying, bored, pre-teen kind of way… so I decided to give him a cooking task – Make some scones for afternoon tea.

He took my basic scone recipe and threw in a bit (a lot!) of chocolate chips and came up with these YUMMY scones! They were such a hit, too bad he only made 12.

Chocolate Chip Scones

225g self raising flour
50g butter, melted
¼ cup of milk (enough to make a soft dough)
¼ cup of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 230ºC oven.

2. Rub butter into flour. Then throw in chocolate chips.

3. Add milk and mix to make a nice soft dough. If too sticky add more flour. If too crumbly, add more milk.

4. Throw onto floured surface. Knead a bit. Press flat with hands, thickness of 1-2cms. Cut out with a scone cutter. Place on oiled baking try.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy!!


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Running on Empty

25 January 2014

Over the Christmas and New Year break, I fell off the exercise wagon. Again!

I had sporadic bursts of exercise here and there, driven by all my pigging-out and over-eating, but I didn’t have a routine. So finally, I’m now very keen to hit my new year running and exercise targets.

I’ve been waking up around 6am to get a run in before the rest of my family gets up, and to avoid the heat of the day. Usually I eat a small breakfast of fruit and muesli, brush my teeth, put on suncream, drink a glass of water and have half a cup of tea before my run. My runs only ever take me 30-40 minutes. But I’ve found it to be a bit problematic, because I feel sluggish in my tummy, and I have a heaviness in my bladder and a that irritating feeling of possibly needing to pee soon.

6km run - 5:30am

TODAY I decided to do something different.

I literally stumbled out of bed at 5:30am… put on my running clothes, drank half a glass of water, ate one sugar lolly and ran out the door. THAT’S IT!

I felt really stiff, I had a few pangs in my joints and I was so irritated that I hadn’t brushed my teeth and that my breath smelt bad, ugh.

But after I ran about 3kms, I suddenly felt brilliant.

I felt magically fluid and oiled and full of energy and power.

I ran 6km with ease. It was the longest distance I’ve ever run (without resting). I wasn’t hungry or thirsty. I felt sooooo goood. I was really surprised. I think I could have kept going but I needed to get home and get ready for my day.

I’m aiming for 10kms!

Follow me on instagram if you’d like to keep tabs on my exercise adventures – @karenlycheng


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3kgs of Squeamish

13 January 2014

My father enjoys going to the market to buy fresh meat and fish.

He will often come over with gifts (bless him!) of my favourite fish – salmon fillets, conveniently frozen in perfect family-sized portions.

I am always sooo happy and grateful for his gifts, because salmon is not cheap and it is so nice to eat on a weekly basis.

Salmon

However the other day, my dad came over and he bought me a WHOLE FREAKING SALMON.

WOW thanks dad!

Salmon Chop

At least it was already cut up – but not frozen.

As I laid the fish pieces in a dish, I must admit that I was suddenly all squeamish, yet fascinated. I couldn’t look the poor fish in the eye. It seemed to be pleading with me not to eat it. And yet, at the same time, I was imagining all the different ways I could prepare fish head curry.

After sorting some pieces, bagging and freezing them, I tried to slice the rest up into sashimi.

Salmon Sashimi

This is my first try at being a sushi chef. Not bad at all!

Just look at the colours of the fish, its texture, freshness and its delicious-ness.

It is amazing how the fish suddenly looks like food you can eat, without the accusing gaze of the fish eyes, the fins or tail!


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Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

7 January 2014

I’m getting back into a routine of exercise and healthy eating!

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I’ve been making these fresh Vietnamese spring rolls for my family. Sometimes I make them once a week because my kids just LOVE eating them! So fresh, light and flavour-some.

I marinate some meat (beef slices, chicken slices, or port mince) with a bit of garlic, soy sauce, seasame oil and ginger for 30 minutes.

I cook up the meat, throw it on a plate.

Then I lay all the vegetables and rice noodles out and my family just make their own rolls. Too easy.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

As for ingredients…I don’t really have a recipe. I just use whatever vegetables are in my fridge.

But usually I like to use lettuce, spinach, sprouts, thinly sliced zucchini, cucumbers, capsicums and carrots. Also I use mint, coriander and chives.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I also like to make my own dipping sauce with soy sauce and chilli.

I love it that the boys like them so much that they often have two or three. The rice paper skins are pretty robust, so even my 8 year old can soak them in warm water and roll it all up.

Yay for happy and healthy tummies!


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What is SMASHED PAVLOVA?

18 December 2013

Hi everyone!

Woolworths are sponsoring me to chat about their new Gold range on my blog. So to test out some of the products in the range, I decided to throw a kick-ass, super-special, Christmas high tea for my girlfriends – a total girl party!

I particularly wanted to make the classic Australian dish – the pavlova (named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova!).

Woolworths Gold

The Gold range featured this pre-made pavlova base – a hand-finished Vanilla Bean Pavlova. This was going to be the centerpiece for my Christmas table.

Woolworths Gold

These were some other indulgent items I bought: After Dinner Chocolate Collection, the Truffle Salami and the Smoked Wagu Beef.

Woolworths Gold

After a few hours of being a DOMESTIC GODDESS… my Christmas high tea party was about to begin.

(I didn’t actually have to do much cooking. I just had to do a lot of “putting things together”, which was perfect for a big, party spread.)

My girlfriends and their children arrived, and we all sat down to a fabulous party!

Woolworths Gold

This was my antipasto platter with cold meats, olives, soft cheese and crackers.

Woolworths Gold

I made little chocolate mud cupcakes and decorated them with the After Dinner Chocolates. I found the cute little cupcake cups from a specialty cake decorating shop.

Woolworths Gold

I put together a huge platter of summer fruits. Too easy.

Woolworths Gold

And ta da – my crowning glory! This was the vanilla bean pavlova, topped with fresh figs, strawberries and pistachios. I got the inspiration from the “serving suggestion” photo on the box!

It looked totally indulgent and incredible :)

I also had some boring ham and cheese sandwiches and sausage rolls for the kids, but that plate didn’t make it to my fancy table spread haha.

Anyway, not long after the party started, the kids were SO SO SO excited about all the free chocolate on the table that… one particularly hyperactive kid (my 4 year old!!) reached across the table aaaaaaand…

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.
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Woolworths Gold

MY SON knocked over the cake stand and SMASHED MY PAVLOVA!!!

It was as if the music of life had screeched to a terrifying stop. All the children were horrified. Their little eyes widened like dinner plates and they slowly crept backwards out of the room.

It was tragic, but it was also soooo funny. I had to bite my tongue and stop myself from laughing, and then I DID laugh. Then my girlfriends also laughed, and everything was okay again.

I rushed to grab my camera to capture the wreckage. I thought it was quite beautiful and artistic in a strange, accidental way.

We carefully scooped it all up, and someone said “We can still eat it, right?”

So we did. And it tasted just great! The fresh, sweet, fruit flavours and textures, with the popping pistachios chunks, the silky whipped cream, and the soft, long crunch of the meringue. Yummy!

The children were still so scared that they might get into trouble, that they didn’t bother us for the rest of the tea party. Everyone had a great time.

So that’s my contribution to the great summer pavlova tradition – smashed pav!

All Woolworths Gold products are currently in store or you can purchase from the website here.


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Amazing Chocolate Bark

27 November 2013

Chocolate Bark

A few months ago, a friend from the US introduced me to Chocolate Bark. I have never heard of it before!

But the idea was sooo deliciously simple, that I KNEW I had to try it out.

It is basically – a biscuit base, melted chocolate smeared on top, and LOTS OF YUMMY STUFF thrown on top.

In fact, you don’t even need the biscuit base. You can just make a slab of chocolate with all kinds of bits and pieces on top. Like rocky road, I guess!

Personally, I think the magic secret to tasty chocolate bark… is to mix sweet and salty toppings together.

Chocolate Bark

Chop a handful of pistachios, half a packet of Oreos, half a Crunchie, a handful of salted pretzels, a handful of mini chocolate bits and coloured M&Ms.

Chocolate Bark

I used 300g of premium dark cooking chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water.

Chocolate Bark

I bought some rectangular shaped biscuits called “Malt O Milk”. I was actually looking for “Milk Coffee” biscuits which are similar to the “Milk Arrowroot” biscuits, but I couldn’t find any.

Lay the biscuits out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Chocolate Bark

Smear the melted chocolate over the top of the biscuits, and create a nice thick layer.

Chocolate Bark

Sprinkle all the yummy stuff over the top.

Make sure you get an equal distribution of all the goodies!

Chocolate Bark

Doesn’t it look amazing?!?

Pop it into the fridge for 5 minutes… and then break it into bite size pieces to serve!

If you want nice rectangular-shaped chocolate bark, you should make cut marks with a knife in the chocolate BEFORE you place it in the fridge.

And try it with white chocolate too!

Enjoy :)


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Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 – Two Days of Sweat and Tears

10 November 2013

A few weeks ago, I took part in an amazing charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer. We cycled 220kms over two days and raised funds for cancer research.

1336 riders took part in the event, and in total we raised an incredible $5.2 million dollars!!

For my own fundraising efforts, I raised $8,350 with the help of friends, family, my community and my wonderful blog readers – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

So this is me at the start line. I woke up at 4am and was all geared up and ready to go by 6:30am.

I was feeling relieved that the day had finally arrived. I was happy and excited to be part of such a significant event. I was proud of myself for doing something so worthwhile. And I was emotional and humbled by the touching speeches. The organisers pushed a rider-less bike through the crowd to symbolise all those lost to cancer… and seeing that empty bike being wheeled towards the start line made tears well up in my eyes.

We set off at 7am.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

About an hour in, my riding buddy had a flat tyre! She rode over some broken glass and we had to pull over on the side of the road.

Oh man, I felt so bad for her. If that were me, I would have been in a fumbling mess… and would have lost all my confidence in riding the rest of the way. But instead, I joked around to calm her/our nerves.

Thankfully, a volunteer bike technician arrived in 3 minutes. He fixed the tyre, pumped it up and we were off again in less than 10 minutes! Amazing!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

THEN. The weather hit us.

Look at the storms clouds rolling towards us! The wind was strong. The rain poured. It was cold. It was a pretty miserable day to be riding.

Riding INTO the wind was difficult. It was bloody hard work! I struggled. I was in pain. It honestly felt like 5 hours of agony.

I wanted to cry and give up. My shoes were filled with water, my arms were shaking from the cold, my muscles were screaming in pain… and there was a moment where I thought to myself – WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS??!

But then… I’d see a rider pass me, with a yellow flag tied to his bike, indicating that he was a cancer survivor. Yup he was here on his bike too, struggling with the wind and rain, just like I was. Then another yellow flag would pass me. And another.

And yep, it put my own struggles into perspective.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

This is me, with my new attitude. Just cheer the hell up and enjoy the ride Karen!

There was so much rain and wind, that it was almost comical.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I managed to finish the first day’s ride with a smile on my face. I rode 103km.

Man that was hard. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.

I wasn’t very talkative that evening. I just wanted to have a hot shower, get changed into some dry clothes, put on some dry socks, eat some hot food, then go to bed.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I was a little worried that other people’s snoring would keep me awake.

But there was so much rain throughout the night, that the sound of rain drowned out all the snoring. I slept very well!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

The next morning, the sun was shining! HOORAY!

But it was cold – I think it was 6°C or something.

I went to collect my bike from the bike racks and I felt – surprisingly – excited!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Me again. All rugged up and ready to go!

The weather warmed up and the day turned out to be sunny and spectacular. It was perfect riding weather.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

My poor riding buddy had ANOTHER flat!

Same tyre.

On the last 20kms of the ride, I took it easy and enjoyed the ride to the finish line.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

WOOHOO I DID IT!!!

No words can describe the feeling when you choose to do something really difficult and you conquer it.

I know that I did this charity ride last year. But this time around, it was definitely much harder for me, because I was not as fit as I was last year. I had a few tears in my eyes the moment I crossed that finish line. It was hard work and I did it.

And just like when you watch a movie a second time around, I was much more aware of the little details… the people, the stories and the purpose… it really brought the whole experience to life. And I was so much more thankful for that.

I really want to thank the organisers, the volunteers, the riders, my team, and everyone who donated to this wonderful cause.

Thank to you, my readers, for following and supporting me on this journey!

xxx


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The Biggest Rainbow Vomit Ever…

3 November 2013

The Color Prun Perth 2013

I attended The Color Run with a bunch of girlfriends this weekend!

If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a 5km run… where you just have a fun time getting covered in colour. It’s not a race and it’s not actually about running.

There were THOUSANDS of people at the event, children of all ages, scooters, prams, even wheelchairs… so there wasn’t much running happening. It was more of a walk :)

Along the 5km course, there are different colour stations, where coloured powder-dust is thrown at you. The event volunteers (who are throwing the colour) try to aim at your white clothes, but the dust just goes everywhere – your face, hair, ears, arms, legs, shoes.

Everyone was very keen to get completely covered in colour, so by the end, some people were rolling on the ground and sliding around in the coloured dust. It was crazy and fun!

The Color Prun Perth 2013

I took these photos approaching the end of the event: coming up to the finish line and at the concert – where the organisers got everyone to throw their packets of colour into the air. It looked awesome!

I stood back to take these photos, because I didn’t want my phone camera to get stained or clogged with the colour dust.

The Color Prun Perth 2013

This was me, covered in colour and dancing away in front of the stage :)

Yes I had a great time!

After I took this photo, someone nearby threw a packet of dark green dust in the air. So I had dark green colour on my face, which outlined my sunglasses, so I looked like I had green eye bags, nice! I had also wiped under my nose and gave myself a purple moustache! And I had orange hair!

By the end of it, I had an old-lady moment, where I looked at myself, completely covered with dusty colour… and I felt really irritated and precious, “Ugh, what am I doing here?! I don’t actually like getting dirty! I’m disgusting! Now I have to go clean myself!” Haha.

Anyway… overall, the whole event had a really fun and happy vibe. It was great for kids too.

Would I recommend the event? Yes. But get a big bunch of friends, get dressed up in some silly outfits (crazy coloured socks and tu-tus) and really get into the colour craziness and dancing – while raising money for charity.

xxx


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The Great Nacho Pig Out

1 November 2013

I can’t decide whether nachos – in general – are healthy or unhealthy.

I guess it depends on how much cheese, meat, sour cream and salt you use?

And I suppose there has to be a good ratio of fresh salad to corn chips… because my children would quite happily eat ONLY corns chips for dinner!

Nachos Dinner Spread

Anyway, we pigged out on nachos the other day, using leftover Bolognese meat sauce.

And yeah it was slightly on the healthy side.

Nachos Plate

I was going to forgo the cheese – but nachos just ain’t the same without melted cheese!

YUMMM!


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Halloween Skeleton Biscuits

30 October 2013

Halloween Skeleton Biscuits

Hey hey! Look what I made!

I have been working on a new project with IGA and cooking up a storm in my kitchen.

Head on over to the IGA Recipe Page to check out my Halloween Skeleton Biscuit Recipe.

After 4-5 trails, I changed a few chocolate biscuit recipes (much to the delight of my children) to come up with a super-simple recipe, with easy to handle dough.

Enjoy!!


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Breakfast at Lo Quay

22 October 2013

This morning, I skipped off by myself to enjoyed a simple (and solitary) breakfast at a little cafe called Lo Quay River Cafe.

Nestled right next to the Canning River in the southern suburbs, about 15 minutes away from the city, the cafe has gorgeous views of the sparkling water.

There is an indoor seating area, which gets really loud and busy most times. There is an outdoor area, with tables under fancy umbrellas. And there is another outdoor area, with plastic picnic tables on the grass, under the trees and right next to the playground.

Lo Quay

After months of training rides and increasing my calorie intake – it’s nice to “eat light” again!

I ordered a simple bruschetta, with tomatoes, avocado and parmesan on crusty bread.

It looked great, but it didn’t taste amazing. It was much too simple and plain for the price.

It was, however, a very nice change to what I had been eating in the past few weeks.

Lo Quay

This is my soy flay white. Bleh, it looks terrible!

I haven’t found many cafes in Perth who can create a good looking soy foam head. So this is the sight I usually have to put up with around here ;)

But the coffee was actually quite good. I was shocked. The blend and grind was surprisingly smooth. And it tasted fantastic. I was tempted to order another one.

I will definitely be back, with my kids, because the river view is just gorgeous.

But I might pack my own food, sit on the grass, order takeaway coffee and buy a few ice creams for the kids.

Lo Quay River Cafe
215 Fern Road
Wilson, WA 6107

Lo Quay River Cafe on Urbanspoon


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Ready. Set. Go!!!

18 October 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer
TOMORROW is my big 200km fundraising ride everyone!

Eeeek I’m super-duper excited!

I’ll be heading to bed early tonight, to wake up at 4am, to be at the starting line at 5am.

Please follow me on Instagram @karenlycheng and I’ll be posting my pics throughout the weekend.

Please head over here to donate towards my cause, if you haven’t already *wink wink nudge nudge*

See you on the other side of the weekend!!

xxx


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This is Why

14 October 2013

This is the hand print of my youngest son.

Handprint

On the weekend, I went out for my final training ride… before my 200km Ride To Conquer Cancer fundraiser.

I returned home in the afternoon and found my husband and my three boys in the backyard, happily doing odd jobs in the garden, and generally messing around in the cool, spring sunshine.

The youngest of my children is Liam, who is 4.5 years old. He was making a huge mess with crunched up blue chalk and a puddle of water, and he proudly showed me how he was making hand prints all over the paving in the backyard.

I was very struck by his hand print.  Because on my long, quiet ride, I was thinking about WHY I am raising funds for cancer research.

His hand print said, “I am here! I am alive!”

My son  and I, and my whole family, are so FULL of life.

We are doing stuff. Loving, eating, arguing, questioning, explaining, playing, laughing, growing older and wiser. And we can do all of this because we have such good health. This is what life is about. Being. Being together, and having a new opportunity to have more BEING each new day.

My husband has almost died of cancer twice, and survived each time only because of the research that had been done into cancer treatments. He and my family are BEING each day because of that research.

So… This is WHY I am riding.

This is my hand print on the world. I am saying to the universe… ” I am alive, and thank you for that!”

And I know that the money that you and I have raised is going to help some mum, dad, son or daughter, keep on BEING somewhere, sometime in the future.

My ride is this weekend (5 more days!)!

You can still make your own gift to the cause here.

Thanks so much!


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Getting Lost. On Purpose.

1 October 2013

A few weeks ago, I joined a cycling group to do a 50km training ride along the beach!

Beach Ride, Cottesloe

This is me looking all fresh and energetic at 6:30am!

We started at Port Beach (North Fremantle), made our way up the coast, past Cottesloe Beach to Scarbourough Beach, and then back down again.

We didn’t ride ON the beach. Just along the paths… sort of.

See, I thought we would be doing more “path riding” beside the beach. I thought we’d be able to look out to where the big blue ocean meets the big blue sky and smell the salt and sand.

But instead, we just rode on the roads. Bleh.

I did not enjoy riding along the large highway. Yes, there was a dedicated bike path next to the car lanes.

But there were just SO MANY trucks and cars zooming by at 60-70km/hr. And they were like 1m away from me? Sometimes less?! Yes I know this is normal road riding. But I was really, really frazzled. I was grinding my teeth with stress the whole way. I wasn’t used to it. I couldn’t think straight. I was bound to do something stupid and get hurt. I didn’t like it.

Beach Ride, Cottesloe

So… I was riding with a friend and she and I decided to TOSS OUR MAP – to hell with the planned cycling route!

We decided to “get lost” and take the scenic route home haha.

Yep, we rode along the glorious view of the ocean and followed the path back to the finish line.

We even stopped to take a selfie at Cottesloe Beach!

Unfortunately, the path was FULL of pedestrians, runners, walkers, dogs, kids on bikes, parents pushing prams… so we had to ride reeeeeeaaallly slow to dodge them all.

We thought that we would be the LAST ones to arrive at the finish line! Thankfully we weren’t.

In fact, we felt a little embarrassed, because the whole cycling group seemed to have a lot of “serious cyclists”… and here WE were having a Sunday toodle on our bikes! Tsk tsk.

Beach Ride, Cottesloe

And to add further embarrassment, the organisers of the ride put on an incredible hot buffet breakfast for everyone’s hard work! Omg!

My friend and I are used to riding 85-100km each weekend… and it turned out that we only rode 35km in total (because we “got lost” right?) and we didn’t even feel tired, or sore, or that we had any kind of significant workout, OR that we even deserved all the free calories!

HAHA!

We were the joke of the table but we thoroughly enjoyed the cycling banter :)

Anyway, this ride was in preparation for my big 200km fundraising ride!

It’s in TWO weeks, and I was wondering if you’d like to support my ride?

Donate on my fundraising page here

Donate any amount you feel you can – $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Cycling Stories here.

Thanks so much!

xxx


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Training Up For 200kms of Cycling

15 September 2013

With FIVE more weeks until my big 200km fundraising ride… I thought I should get back on my bike and start covering some serious distances!

So I met up with my cycling group and we rode 85kms in one morning.

Sounds really impressive, but I was SOOOOOOOO SLOW.

It was really embarrassing. It was not an impressive effort at all.

See, I was trying to pace myself. I haven’t been on my bike for a couple of weeks, I didn’t want any muscle injuries and I wanted to do the whole “Slow and Steady Wins The Race” thing. You know, like a tortoise?

Having said that… this particular day was really, REALLY WINDY. Perth has been experiencing weeks of rain, stormy conditions and winds between 30-50km/h.

I rode painfully and shockingly slow for 43kms… heading into a strong wind.

At some points I was riding 10km per hour! *Cringe*

Each down stroke of my pedal was really hard work, making my leg muscles burn. Imagine doing that for 2 hours straight :P

But once we turned around… the wind was behind us, pushing us along… and I was *flying* on my bike. It was awesome!

I was cruising along, with hardly any effort at all at 38km/hr… it was fuuuuuun :)

It kind of made all the hard work worth it.

Bike Path on a Windy Day

This is the lovely bike path that leads straight from Murdoch Train Station to Paganoni Road (slightly north of Mandurah). 43kms of flat, straight paths. Effortless right?

Oh and I did something really stupid!

The night before my ride, I adjusted my seat – just down a little tiny bit. I have a bottle carrier mounted on the base of my seat, and so I adjusted that too.

And I did these adjustments IN THE DARK. Which yes, is just genius.

So at the start of my ride, I felt that I was going really slow. Unusually slow. I was pushing and pushing my pedals with so much effort. I thought the resistance was from the strong winds and that my legs were out of practice.

It turned out that the bottom of my bottle was pressed against my tires… and acting like a brake!

My tires were wearing out the bottom of my water bottle!

It was only until one of my team mates noticed my leaking water bottle – that I realised what was happening.

Leaking Bottle

Look at that!

The bottom of the bottle was worn through in three places, because I shifted it around two or three times while riding.

Geez, I felt so stupid :P

OK that aside, I was wondering if you’d like to support my ride?

Donate on my fundraising page here

Donate any amount you feel you can – $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Cycling Stories here.

Thanks so much!

xxx


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Chewy Anzac Biscuits

7 September 2013

I’m always on the look out for simple and easy recipes to make as an after-school snack.

I usually serve my kids cut fruit, vegetables and *something else*… which can be anything from muffins, cupcakes, bread pretzels, muesli bars, granola, biscuits, corn thins with spread, cheese on toast.

The other day, my 4 year old and I made Chewy Anzac Biscuits.

Chewy Anzac Biscuits

I’ve always made the hard and crunchy Anzac biscuits. This is the first time I’ve tried the chewy version, and they are amazing! My kids loved it. I don’t think we’ll be making the hard ones anymore, because these are too delicious.

I found this recipe on the Jamie Oliver website. It tasted brilliant, but it was much too sweet. I had a bit of a headache from the sugar over-load, but my kids liked them :P

Next time will be using 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Or 1/3 cup!

Ingredients
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar (TRY 1/2 cup instead!)
125g butter
2 tbs golden syrup (Or honey works fine too!)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Line 2-3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, golden syrup and 2 tablespoons of water together over a medium heat until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. The liquid should froth up a bit.

3. Sift flour into a large bowl, add the oats, coconut and brown sugar. Stir together.

4. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.

5. Roll level tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on trays about 5cm apart (to allow for them spreading). They look quite small, and you may be tempted to put more into each ball, but don’t. A little goes a long way! Press with a fork lightly to flatten slightly.

6. Bake for 10-12 mins or until lightly golden brown. (If they are too brown, they will become hard and not-chewy when cold.)

7. Remove from oven and allow to stand on trays for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. I managed to make 36 biscuits. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

* When the biscuits are removed from the oven they will still be very soft, but they harden up on the tray.

* I found the mixture to be a bit wet and sticky, so I added a handful of flour to make it easier to work with.

Enjoy!