Archive for Food & Health

 

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Meal Prepping for Lunch

10 November 2014

Meal Lunch Prepping

Look what I did on the weekend – I feel so clever! This is the first time I’ve done any kind of lunch prepping… that is, create an entire lunch for myself for the whole week ahead and then freeze them into packs.

I work from home most days; but sometimes I will go out for meetings or run errands, so my lunches are usually very small and spontaneous (like a muesli bar) or hastily put together (left over chicken with a piece of fruit?). Sometimes if I have a big breakfast, I’ll skip lunch and end up eating at 3pm. Or if I eat a small breakfast at 6:30am (because I ate too much the previous evening) I get distractingly hungry by 10am.

So I’m trying to manage my eating portions a little better… starting with these set lunches.

On the menu is grilled ginger soy chicken and mushrooms, with green beans, cabbage and baby spinach.

My biggest mistake when putting these together is that I didn’t have enough containers and I made too much food. So when I distributed the food, my lunch portions were a bit too big – more than I usually eat for lunch!

Also I didn’t have the RIGHT KIND of containers (I’m not a fan of plastic containers, I would prefer glass. Although I do take the food out of the plastic and put it on a glass dish to microwave anyway).

Another factor I was concerned about was getting bored of the same lunch each day? I like soy chicken and mushrooms, but for 5 days in a row? Now that I mention it, I don’t need lunch packs for the weekend, why did I make 7 lunches? I didn’t think it through very well!

The whole thing was pretty time consuming. I had to plan what to eat, buy the ingredients, marinade the chicken, cut and wash the vegetables, wipe down the containers, divide the vegetables, cook the chicken, cut it up and divide it all up, let it cool down, THEN lastly I had to make room in my freezer. Thankfully I had room in there! I actually made 4 more lunch packs for my husband, so I had ELEVEN containers to freeze all together!

It took me about 2.5 hours on a Sunday.

Which if you think about it… is not that bad when you think about how I’ll benefit from it during the week. Right??

Phew, it was hard work. Don’t know if I could keep it up :P


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Chocolate Coconut Granola

5 November 2014

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Um, the other day I was craving to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So I had a crazy idea that I would make some chocolate coconut granola to eat the next morning?!

I found a recipe online, I modified it a lot to suit my tastes – and HOLY CRAP it is AMAZING. It is like eating chocolate crackles!!

The only sweetener I used was maple syrup, and I didn’t use very much.

I think it’s healthy! I think I’ll use raw cacao powder next time.

Chocolate Coconut Granola

4 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of desiccated coconut
2 cups of mixed seeds* and sultanas (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
1 cup of almonds, roughly chopped in a food processor
1 cup of cashews, roughly chopped in a food processor

2/3 cup of coconut oil
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

(Makes about 9 cups of granola.)

* I buy a packet of mixed grains called “Pura Veda” and it has buckwheat, sunflower kernels, raisins, sesame seeds, millet, pumpkin seeds, linseed, poppy seeds, chia seeds, amaranth. It’s pretty expensive!

1. Pre-heat oven to 130C. Line 4 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Put coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla essence in a small saucepan and stir slowly over low heat until smooth.

3. Mix the oats, coconut, seeds, almonds and cashews in large bowl. Pour in the chocolate mixture in and stir until all the dry ingredients are well coated.

4. Divide the mixture up onto the 4 baking trays. And bake for 45 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the granola in the hot oven for another 30 minutes.

6. Take the pans out of the oven and without stirring the granola, let it cool completely in the pan. It will harden and crisp up as it cools.

7. Store in a large, air tight container and enjoy for breakfast, snacks and dessert (served with ice cream YEAH!)

Enjoy!

xxx


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Starting to run again, again.

3 November 2014

Run 10km

I went for a spontaneous run the other morning. It was my first proper run in 8 weeks!!

I pushed myself to run a steady pace and went for 10.5kms – which I’m so happy about. I had no sore feet, knees or muscles – yay!

I ran the distance in 1 hour 5 minutes, but I had to slow down to walk a few times, and I had to stop for water. I ran at an average pace of 6:15/km (that was according to my sports tracker, but mathematically, I think my average should be 6:20?)

Anyway, I’m not too fussed about numbers. It’s a great comeback for me!

I’m aiming to be able to run 10kms without slowing down to walk.

And I’m aiming for an average pace of 6:00/km, which means I should run 10km in 1 hour. Baby steps!

Here’s to feeling like I’ve emerged from a slow rut and feeling fantastic about my health again!

Cheers everyone and have a great week :)


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Dinner Inspiration: Salmon and Salad

27 October 2014

Salmon + Salad

I made this for dinner the other night; and as I sit here, editing the photo, my mouth is watering again!

I made a really simple Asian style dressing with 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce.

(I like this dressing recipe, because I don’t have to finely chop garlic or ginger, and it has no sugar! Haha I’m so lazy!)

I threw together some snow pea sprouts, bean sprouts, sliced cucumber, sliced carrots and sliced zucchini, spinach and coriander.

I pan-fried some salmon fillets. Piled them together. Drizzle the dressing on top. Crush some cashews and sprinkle over the top.

All done!

For my husband and kids, I mixed in rice noodles with their salad. But I’m trying to eat carb free for a while, so I skipped the noodles and had another portion of salmon. Best dinner ever!

 


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We raised $5.2 million for cancer research!!

22 October 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 - Photo By Ze Photography
(Photo By Ze Photography)

It’s over for another year!

I volunteered for a 2 day cycling charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

I’ve participated in this event for the last two years and it involves over a 1000 people riding a distance of 200km over 2 days.

For each of the last two years, I have spent about 5 hours of sitting on my ass and pedaling each day! And as I slogged away, part of what kept me going were the cheer squads dotted along the route – volunteers dressed in cowboy gear, pink tutus and Elvis costumes… but the craziest and most entertaining bunch were the Onesie Warriors.

They wore one piece animal suits, sang and danced, cheered, rang bells, hooted and hollered, and got up to all kinds of crazy antics that made us riders laugh and smile when we needed it the most. They made such a big, happy difference to our journey, lifted our moods, and pumped SO much energy and fun into the event.

I remember (during a relentless uphill slog on the bike in the pouring rain) looking at the Onesie crew thinking… where do they get their energy from?? They have been dancing and jumping around for hours! They must be drunk! They must be completely sugared up! They must be pumped full of Red Bull! Were they all fit, young 18 year olds, who are just used to all this raving!?

Anyway, that was the team I joined on the weekend.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

There were 12 of us in the Onesie Warrior team, and we split into 3 groups of 4. We positioned our teams at different locations, where the route was most boring (20kms of flat farm land) or most difficult (long, slow, uphill climbs that go on forever) for the cyclists.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Basically the whole Onesie Warrior experience was… a crazy, roadside, dance party, with insane amounts of bad karaoke, bad dancing, raving and jumping!

We had pop music blasting from our car. We were shouting, cheering, whooping, waving clappers, ringing cowbells, shaking tambourines, tooting horns, blowing whistles… for 10 hours!

Oh man, it was sooo much fun.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

I couldn’t even recognise myself. I was doing the most silliest, shameless and stupidest dance moves I’ve ever done in my whole life. And I did it on purpose! In front of people! To make them laugh! In broad daylight!

If you know me in real life, I’m usually very contained, calm, possibly soft spoken and maybe a bit shy. I am in no way a natural show pony. I don’t walk into a room and have a presence that commands people to take notice of me. In fact, I’m striving for a kind of quiet gracefulness.

But once I put on my giraffe onesie, I felt like I had permission to act like an exploding, hyperactive, crazy person!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

With our encouragement, all 1311 riders made it safely to the night camp – the half way mark for the weekend.

They did SO WELL for their first day. They rode 105km. There was a very strong head wind blowing against the riders, and I could see them all pushing into it, grimacing in pain with every down stroke of the pedal. I knew their pain! They must’ve been exhausted!

There were a lot of cancer survivors who rode too. They rode with a yellow flag attached to their bikes to distinguish themselves. I thought of my husband, who has survived cancer twice and thought whether he would be able to ride this distance. His health is excellent, but fragile, and shouldn’t really be pushed to this level of exertion. Not to mention he was at home looking after the blessing of our three kids… while I was spending the weekend having this unusual, out of character experience.

I got a bit teary every time I saw a person with a yellow flag that reminded myself why I was here.

In fact, it only took a few minutes of chatting to a complete stranger to find out that every rider had a story or a connection to cancer, and that they were determined and inspired to do something about it. I was constantly teary and inspired!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

As for me, I had woken up at 4am that day, started cheering at 7am, had only a few small breaks, and finished my shift at 5pm (to cheer the very last rider to arrive at camp).

So I went to bed at 7:30pm!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

The next morning I woke at 4am again, and the weather looked REALLY BAD.

There was a 100% chance of rain, thunderstorms, hail and strong winds. Oh my god! I hoped the wind would be behind the riders and push them along.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

For the second day, I was a frog. It was an apt costume for the wet weather. And apt, because my voice was very croaky.

At 6am, I hopped over to the start line and I bumped into these two ladies – Brooke and Sam. Er, well I actually just randomly walked up to them, because hey I’m in a frog suit, and I asked to take a photo with them because their cycling jerseys matched my green costume!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Then our team quickly drove to our first designated spot for the day and waited for the riders to come through.

We waited and waited.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

In fact, we waited at the zebra crossing.

When the riders went by, we waved signs like “SAFARI SO GOOD!” and “KEEP THOSE CALVES MOOVING”! And other really bad animal puns.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

We placed ourselves in silly positions to wave at the riders. Our chipmunk climbed a tree. Our cows climbed a hill. Our penguin sat on a branch.

I was a squashed frog on the path, but I only took this photo after the last rider rode past haha!

We made our way to several other positions along the route, and then back to the finish line to cheer the last rider through.

We danced and cheered for hours! We were projected up onto the big screen, we were photographed and we were on TV (did you see us?!). It was definitely one of the most crazy, fun and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It certainly gave me an unusual perspective of the event.

In total, we raised $5.2 million that will go to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (used to be WAIMR), with all the funds going directly into cancer research projects. I was choked up with pride and happiness!

A HUGE thanks to all the organisers, the crew, the riders, the sponsors and the supporters who donated!!

I’ll see you all next year!!


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Miss Kitty’s Saloon, Inglewood, Perth

21 October 2014

I recently organised to go on a double date with some good friends. Our friends didn’t mind where we ate, but I particularly wanted to try out a cool new restaurant in Perth, therefore I was in charge of booking a restaurant. Unfortunately it completely slipped my mind until two days beforehand! Oops!

Every place I wanted to try out was booked out for a Friday night. Or they didn’t take bookings because they are so popular. So I desperately scrambled to find any place with a great review… and came up with: Miss Kitty’s Saloon, serving “modern American/Canadian tapas” style cuisine in Inglewood.

My first thought was: Yay! I got a booking for Friday night!

But my second thought was: OH NO, what’s wrong with this place that they still have bookings available on a Friday night at two days notice!?

Then my third thought was: I hate the name! It just makes me think of cheap steaks, greasy chips, stale peanuts and beer. I’m not a fan of those stereotypical American steakhouses, and “modern American/Canadian tapas” could mean: really small AND expensive serves of chewy steak in barbeque sauce.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

When we arrived, the place was fully booked (which made me feel much better about my choice).

I was completely surprised. I loved the weird, mismatched décor. The place had a great vibe and atmosphere, with recycled wood palettes, barn doors, metal drums, random farm equipment sitting around the place as part of the furniture. So I felt better!

But then I realised my next mistake. My friends have special eating requirements! I forgot! One is a vegetarian and the other is on a reduced gluten and carb diet. OMG and I’ve taken them to a Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Western Texan steak house?!? I felt bad again.

They assured me they’d be fine. They are well travelled and they always manage to find something on the menu that will suit them. But I was almost dying of embarrassment.

With some help from the very well informed waitresses (in very pretty arty-punk Western themed dresses), we de-coded the menu.

We ordered 5 main dishes; with intent of ordering another if we were still hungry. But it turned out that we were full at the end that we didn’t need a 6th main. Having said that, all four of us are light/healthy eaters.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

First to arrive was a vegetarian dish, crisp tortilla with spiced tofu, peanuts, lime ($9).

It was so delicious! It was light and fresh. The tangy dressing didn’t overpower the subtle flavours of the tofu and cucumbers. The crisp tortilla was out of this world. It was fried to a crispy perfection, yet it still had a slight softness in the middle.

To be honest, I would have been completely happy to eat just this for my dinner haha!

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Oh then this OTHER dish arrived. And I thought… No way. I think I would happily eat JUST. THIS. DISH. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!!

It was the salmon tostada with avocado, green chilli, orange ($18.8)

The salmon and the vegetables were all wonderfully fresh. The bursts of salmon roe mixed with the orange added a delightful wow to my mouthfuls. Seriously, so yummy.

(My vegetarian friend ate fish, so he was all good with this dish.)

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Someone suggested the brussel sprouts, with bacon, curry, yogurt ($12)… everyone was intrigued so we ordered it.

Personally, I would have never ordered something like this off the menu. Mainly because the combinations sounded much too strange.

But do you know what? The brussel sprouts were marvellous! They must have been fried somehow, because they were crispy on the outside and still firm on the inside. I’ve never eaten brussel sprouts like this before. They didn’t look pretty, but they were yummy and tasted like broccoli. I love broccoli!

The mixture of curry, bacon and yoghurt was so different and well combined. It wasn’t stewy or heavy. It was almost like a stir-fry with a fresh curry flavour. I would definitely order this again.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

The charred corn salad, smoked almonds, coriander, lime ($14.8) was my choice.

I think it was a let down compared to our first three dishes. It looked nice, with charred corn bits, baby corn and puffed corn… but it just didn’t have that wow combination. Didn’t think it was worth $14.80 either.

Moving right along.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Ah ha! Finally some meat!

This was the charred lamb ribs with mint, peas ($24.8). It was absolutely delicious! The lamb was soft, succulent and tender. The meat fell off the bone, yet it had these globs of crispy fatty bits along the bone, which were a gorgeously caramelised and crispy.

I didn’t notice what marinade was used, but the flavour wasn’t overpowering, nor was it bland in any way. I could really taste the sweetness and freshness of the lamb.

By the end of the 5 shared mains, I was full, but I probably could have fit in one more dish. However I KNEW I didn’t need it, I knew I would be over-stuffed and feel awful/heavy/bloated if we shared one more main dish.

So I insisted on sharing one dessert between the 4 of us.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

We chose the hazelnut chocolate crack, banana ice cream, salted milk crumb ($13.8).
It came out nicely presented, and it hit the spot in terms of sweetness to round off my palate.

The slabs of chocolate were hazelnut flavoured mixed with rice crackles (I think?), which was really yummy. I didn’t like the banana ice cream at all. The white powdery stuff was powdered milk with a bit of sweetness (I think?!). The crumbled chocolate biscuits had a smear of caramel beneath it and it was ok.

Overall it was an OK dessert and as I said, it hit the spot.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Also… I thought I should mention that were sitting in a 4 person booth, and the placing of the ceiling speakers meant that the music blasted straight into our booth and echoed around us. It was pretty loud and couldn’t hear my husband speak from across the table… so we asked if they could turn the music down. I thought they would roll their eyes and huff at us, but they were so cool about it. All the wait staffs were super friendly, cheerful and helpful.

My final thoughts.

You know, honestly, if I had my way with the initial ordering, I would have automatically gone for my top choices – lamb, duck, pork belly, charred beef and octopus. Which meant I would have missed out on the tofu, salmon and brussel sprouts… so I am really glad we ate with my vegetarian friend and that I didn’t choose ALL MEAT dishes.

In the end, the bill came out to be about $30 per head, a very reasonable price for dinner. This included 5 mains, 1 dessert, 2 glasses of wine and a coffee. I’m sure if we ordered more meat dishes (and ate ourselves silly) that would have brought the price up.

I was completely surprised by Miss Kitty’s Saloon. It was nothing like I imagined, and so much better. The food we ate was fresh, light, tasty and delicious.

ALL four of us thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We left feeling really good that we didn’t over-stuff ourselves and very happy about the price and our overall experience.

I will definitely be back!

(Particularly so I can try all the meaty dishes haha!)

Miss Kitty’s Saloon
882 Beaufort St, Inglewood, WA 6052
08 9272 6669

Monday – CLOSED
Tuesday – Saturday 5:30pm-11:00pm
Sunday – CLOSED

Miss Kitty's Saloon on Urbanspoon


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Fitness Motivation 0.00000001

13 October 2014

Wow. So I totally FELL OFF THE EXERCISE TRAIN! I fell down and rolled in between the train tracks, I dug a hole, I made myself a nice home, I put my feet up, and I haven’t moved since!!

Here’s the round up of my last 4 weeks…

Running – Close to none. I think I ran a total of 3km in the whole 4 weeks.

Cycling – none.

Boxing, boot camp, pump classes – none.

Yoga, pilates – none.

Strength, weights, core workouts – pretty much none.

Motivation to start again – none.

There was a point in the last 4 weeks where I was really, really angry, stressed agitated and disgusted by my lack of motivation.

But I’m past that now. I’ve just accepted that I can’t fit everything in. I’m not Super Woman. I can’t do everything. I’m just going to be happy where I am for now. I’m just going to cruise through life and work on what’s more important right now. Why stress about it?

On the up side, I play netball once a week (which is like high intensity interval training yo!) and I go for evenings walks with my family, where I get to hold hands with my husband. That’s real nice.

I’ve found a happy slow place. This is just the current normal.

Later on there will be a new normal, and I’m sure before I know it, I’ll be back to running marathons!

 


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Please Don’t RICE MY OUCHIE

9 October 2014

Growing up, I’ve never been a rough kid.

I’ve never broken my arm or leg. I’ve never hurt my knee, or twisted my ankle. I’ve never had a cast or crutches. As a result, I’m very unfamiliar with injuries and what to do with them.

So when I get a minor injury now, I just ignore it… because it’ll just get better after a few days right?

Thumb Injury

Well, while I was playing netball one evening, I slammed my thumb into the ball at full speed and got this impressive bruise. Of course it wasn’t a bruise to start. It just felt like my thumb had SPLIT IN TWO, THAT’S ALL.

Being the well brought up lady that I am, I held back the “F” EXPLETIVES SCREAMING IN MY HEAD and just turned to my opponent and said, “Ouch, that hurt.”

I played the rest of the game like a one-handed elephant seal, slapping the ball without using my thumb.

I was a bit embarrassed about it after. Silly me. Got an ouchie. Hurt my thumb. I casually mentioned it to my netball team mates, who just said, “Just rice it babe.”

I thought to myself, “Why yes, I’m Chinese. I can subscribe to that kind of thinking. Rice is usually the answer to everything. But surely they don’t mean to eat rice or rub it with rice. So I’m sure it stands for something like “Rub It Carefully Everyday”??

(It means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation for all you perfectly coordinated people who don’t fall over, like me.)

Anyway, I stumbled along with my sore thumb. I refused to whinge about my pain. I didn’t complain or make a big deal about it. I was secretly all high and almighty and proud of myself. “I DON’T DO INJURIES. Pfft I don’t need ice. Or rice.” I turned door knobs. Held sandwiches. Flipped pancakes. I did all the things that a being with opposing thumbs is destined to do.

But after 3 weeks of pain, I swallowed my pride and asked various people for advice about my injury.

I got no sympathy. Everyone seemed to tease me about how minor my injury was. They told me stories about the MUCH bigger knee, ankle, neck, arm and back traumas they had suffered over the years. And they told me that it was too late for self applied RICE. Apparently, I needed professional advice…

And the advice came in the form of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

You see, throughout my research… I heard that a girlfriends’ husband’s friend’s sister… swears that there is a hot-looking, young physiotherapist with “talented” hands, who specialises in netball injuries, who will assess everything from ankle injuries, to ahem, groin injuries… (and presumably thumb injuries?) and who gives excellent RICE. WINK WINK.

Hmph. Thanks A LOT guys.

I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m sure the pain will just go away after a few days right? It just needs more time to rest. And less netball.

But… is this rumour true? Is this mythical Physio actually real? Is he really talented? Is he really hot? Does he really see all the injured netball girls in town?

I guess I’ll never know the answers to these questions… because I’m *much* too proud to let some Physio-cassanova RICE my ouchie :P


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From City To Surf To Hamburger (Then Bed)

12 September 2014

My friends and I participated in the recent Perth City to Surf!

This year the running event celebrated it’s 40th year, but for me, this year was my first time running in it… so I was pretty excited!

However, two weeks before the event, I was down with the flu, fever and dizziness, and it threw my running training out of whack (ie. I didn’t do a training run for 10 days). And it was only the day before the event, that I felt 90% back to normal and I decided I would still run – BUT I had to promise myself to take it easy.

Perth City2Surf 2014

This is my friend Pippa and I, about to run the 12km distance, while our other friends ran the Half Marathon (21kms).

We were pumped up at the start!

Perth City2Surf 2014

Off we set. I took this photo (while running!) as the runners left the starting line and made their way up the first hill. There were 45,000 participants this year!

Have you been in a running event before? I’ve run in a few events. It’s pretty spectacular. There is a very cool and energetic atmosphere in the air. But it is really, REALLY crowded.

I won’t lie. I didn’t like the crowd. As a running experience, I didn’t find it relaxing or therapeutic. It was highly distracting! I spent the whole time looking at everyone’s gear / clothes / shoes / hats / hair / body shape / elbows / calves / backs / bums! I couldn’t help it! It was everywhere I looked!

I was also overwhelmed with a sense of frantic urgency, a feeling that I HAD TO HURRY UP! It felt as if everyone was rushing towards the Christmas city shopping sales and I had to follow the crowd or I would miss out! Or get RUN OVER! DON’T THINK JUST KEEP MOVING!

There were a lot of hills and I quickly found myself a bit breathless and wheezy and unable to sustain a good running pace. I was a bit grumpy that my health wasn’t up to it. I lost Pippa at the 5km mark… and I ended up walking A LOT after that.

Perth City2Surf 2014

I finished the 12km with my slowest time ever!

I pretty much WALKED the distance more than I ran. I was quite embarrassed! Look at me. I don’t even look like I’ve been running. I didn’t even break a sweat. Some of my friends were running a half marathon and I looked like I went for a Sunday stroll haha!

My average pace was 7:06m/km and my overall time was 1:30 – which is pretty slow for me. That pace is like a brisk walk, not a run. Ooooh well. I guess I stuck to my promise of taking it easy.

I looked at my running app and it told me that I had burned 724 calories in the 90 mins. Which was cool and all but…

Grilld Burger and Chips

…we headed off to an inner city pub for drinks and lunch.

I was STARVING. I DEVOURED this lamb burger (611 calories) and chips (252 calories) in 5 minutes flat.

724 calories OUT, and 863 calories IN? Er. I definitely didn’t think that one through very well. Oh well! It was freaking delicious.

When I got home, I had to take a nap. My husband let me take a 2 hour nap, bless him! I was so tired and sore. And for the next few days, I think my health dropped back down to 80%.

Soooo… looking back, I probably should have just stayed in bed, so I could recover that extra 10% in the first place!

But at least I did it.

And there is always next year.

And another hamburger.


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Simple Cheese and Bacon Scones

8 September 2014

Simple Cheese and Bacon Scones

I woke up one morning and I was SO SICK OF MAKING SANDWICHES for my children’s lunch. So I found a new recipe and made some very simple cheese and bacon scones. They were so delicious, tasty and soft. I ate two for breakfast. They were just like what you’d get from a fancy cafe, I was soooo pleased.

They really are best eaten hot and fresh from the oven!

I modified the recipe of course, so here’s my version.

Cheese and Bacon Scones
400g of self raising flour
50g of regular butter (with salt), diced and left at room temperature
250ml of milk (I just used low fat, because that’s what I had in my fridge)

Flavouring
125g of tasty cheese, grated
75g of rindless bacon, chopped and fried until crispy

Or
125g of smoked salmon
2 tablespoon of chopped dill

Method (Makes 12 scones)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Fry the chopped bacon and let it cool.

3. Put butter and half the flour into a large food processor. Process on low speed until butter and flour are combined and there are no lumps. Pour in the rest of the flour and process again. This took me 2-3 minutes. Or you could do this all by hand. Add the cheese, bacon, milk and mix on low speed until it turns into a dough. Don’t over mix or the scones will be tough and dry!

4. Plop the dough onto a floured bench top and flatten it with your hand to a thickness of 3cm. Cut the dough into squares (looks a bit more cafe style this way!) of 5 – 7 cms. Put the scones on a lined baking tray and brush the tops with a bit of milk.

5. Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes until golden!

Simple Cheese and  Bacon Scones

Ta da! I also added 1 tablespoon of chopped chives and about 100g of grated zucchini.

Simple Cheese and  Bacon Scones

Serve hot with a smear of butter.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Architects and Heroes

28 August 2014

The other day, I dropped my aunty off in Subiaco for a doctor’s appointment. While I waited for her phone call (to be picked up), I found myself with 2 hours to spare.

Trying to avoid the mall-type shops on Rokeby Road, I wandered into the local op shop… and bought myself 3 awesome books (total of $9).

Then I found a secondhand bookstore and found another 2 books (total $4)! I was so delighted with my buys, that I needed a coffee and snack to celebrate.

Architects and Heroes

I stumbled across Architects and Heroes, a new cafe that I’ve been hearing about in the local social media circles.

It was my ah ha! moment, as there’s always something magical about discovering a treasure by accident, rather than researching it and then seeking it out with intent.

Architects and Heroes

With a cool mural stretching across the whole cafe, a laid back vibe, the smell of quality coffee, smiles from the staff, lots of seating (indoor and outdoor) and lots of fancy-wacky specialty coffee instruments… this place was a winner for me.

Architects and Heroes

The menu looked pretty good, featuring a seasonal menu of eggs, mushrooms, smoked salmon, crusty bread, French toast, cinnamon muesli. There were also lots of delicious baked goods on display too.

But I just wanted a quick snack, so I settled on a ham and cheese croissant.

Architechs and Heroes

My croissant was tasty and fresh. My soy flat white was gorgeous and smooth. My sunny spot by the window made me glow with happiness.

I pulled out one of my book finds – a double edition of The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Despite initially feeling a bit self-conscious (PRETENTIOUS NERD ALERT!), I stuck my nose into it, became oblivious to the rest of the world and read until I received the call telling me I had to leave.

I’ll definitely be back again to try out some of their meals. And I promise to be a bit more social and bring a friend next time!

Architects and Heroes
25 Rokeby Road
Subiaco, WA
Mon – Sat: 6:30 am – 6:30 pm

Architects and Heroes on Urbanspoon


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Running With Friends

13 August 2014

Run 10k
I’ve joined a running group!

It’s not really a group group. It’s not formal. We’re just a bunch of friends (girls and guys) who are all running freaks! We all know each other through our children’s school and we all live and run in the same area, which makes our “group runs” infinitely easier to organise.

Thinking about it, I never thought I’d join a fitness group. Because, I usually like to exercise by myself. I like the peace and solitude. I like to meditate, arrange my thoughts and focus on the mesmerising beat of my feet hitting the pavement. It’s quite important for me to have that quiet space for myself.

Exercising in a large classes – in a room full of strangers – is also very solitary. Which I like. I feel no obligation to interact with anyone. And I just get lost in my own little bubble.

But what do you know, I discovered that exercising with friends is so much fun.

It adds so many new levels to my exercise routine – motivation, inspiration, sharing knowledge and a social aspect. I’m loving it!

Following people’s (ie. stranger’s) exercise updates and fitness inspiration on instagram and facebook does not compare.

Anyway, I tried out a new running route this weekend. The weather was just gorgeous. It was the first time I tackled so many hills.  I ran 10kms and felt amazing. I might try to work on my time/speed next time. I’m feeling inspired!


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Nine Fine Food, Highgate

11 August 2014

I organised a sort-of birthday dinner for myself with a few of my girlfriends at Nine Fine Food in Highgate. It was only a sort-of birthday celebration, because my actual birthday happened weeks ago. So really, it was just an excuse to have dinner with my girlfriends.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

This was the second time that I have eaten here. The first time, I forgot to bring my DSLR camera, and my iphone snaps just didn’t do justice to the food and ambiance. The food was delicious, the price of the meal was great value and I had a lovely experience. So to come here the second time… my mouth was watering with anticipation!

Nine Fine Foods specialises in Japanese cuisine with a kind of modern Australian fusion.

As well as their regluar menu, they have a special set menu called Tokutku (3 courses for $55 pp) or Osusume (4 course for $66 pp). And you can choose from a selection of entrees, mains and desserts. The only catch is that everyone on your table has to agree to have the set menu (but you can each choose your own dishes).

We decided to go with the Tokutoku. And can you believe it, between 5 of us, we all chose similar dishes.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

For my entree, I chose the Beef Tataki with fresh herb salad and yuzu ponzu dressin.

I picked up a roll of beef between my chopsticks and dunked it ungracefully into the dipping sauce. Little bits of spring onion, herbs and vegetables were still stuck to it but they added a great crunch to the beef as I slurped it all up. The beef was tender and wonderfully soft. It was delicious! The flavours were a wonderful balance of fresh, tangy, sweet, salty and it was just full of punch.

I really liked this dish. It was already my winning pick of the night!

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

My girlfriends chose the Agedashi Toothfish, with Patagonian toothfish, tofu, mushrooms, wakame in Agedashi broth.

The soup looked so warm and comforting. I ate this the last time I dined here, and it was my favourite dish. The mix of a crunchy skin layer and soft fish flesh… was just divine.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

For my main I chose the Barramundi and Prawn with Barramundi fillet, garlic chili prawns, vegetable pancake, plum miso and chilli sauce.

The fish was very soft and juicy. The prawns were fresh and tasty too.

Although the texture was great, I found the overall dish to be a bit salty and overwhelming to my senses after eating the Beef Tataki. It just had too much flavour, and I felt that I needed to clear my palate with (oh god) some plain white RICE?

I was a little disappointed, but I wouldn’t rate it as a terrible dish. It was just “ok” compared to the other dishes I have eaten at the restaurant before.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

My girlfriends had the Confit Duck, with a duck leg, grilled Scallops, tempura onion, potato mash, and duck jus.

I had this dish the last time and omg the duck just fell off the bone and it was amazing. I was thinking perhaps I should have ordered this dish. The mellow warm flavours would have gone a bit better with my beef entree? I also loved the way it was styled, with all the bits and pieces placed around the plate like an artwork.

After my main, I was left feeling a bit… well, I was craving PLAIN WHITE RICE! So to move immediately onto a rich and sweet dessert, kind of threw me off.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

I ordered Creamy Tiramisu with Bitter Espresso.

It didn’t look like much. It looked very underwhelming and a bit small.

But once I started to eat it, all was forgiven. It was very yummy indeed. The sponge was perfectly soaked with coffee. The cream and crunchy topping rounded off the dessert and gave me my ice-cream dessert fix. The portion was just right too. Not too little, not too much.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

My girlfriends had the Green tea mattcha custard brulee.

I’m not a fan of mattcha, so I didn’t really enjoy my tiny taste of it. I did however, enjoy my grilfriends’ chuckles as they cracked the sugary caramel to reveal the mattcha green colour that makes everyone so excited!

By the end of the evening, I was suitably full. Not stuffed like a turkey. Just comfortable and content from having a good meal and a great chat to my girlfriends!

We had a few Entertainment cards between us, which offered us a discount to our bill. So in the end we paid around $46 each. Which was insanely affordable for a 3 course meal, considering the food and ambiance felt like a fine dining experience.

Would I go again, for a third time? Absolutely. I’ll take my husband and I might even take my kids too, as an introductory to fine dining (without having to worry about whether I’d be wasting a lot of money on food they won’t eat). Plus it wasn’t overly posh or awkwardly fancy. It was dark, intimate and cozy. I really liked it!

Overall, it was good value for money. It’s fine dining, without the eye-watering price tag!

Nine Fine Food
227-229 Bulwer St, Cnr Lake St Highgate
www.ninefinefood.com.au

Nine Fine Food on Urbanspoon


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Raspberry and Apple Tart (with no refined sugar)

4 August 2014

Raspberry and Apple Tart

I am on a baking frenzy at the moment!

I’ve been making my no-refined sugar tarts at least once a week, each time experimenting with different fruits.

I’ve made Peach and Pear, Apple and Almonds, Strawberry and Pear, but today I’m going to share my Raspberry and Apple Tart recipe (because my kids enjoyed this flavour combination the most).

A few weeks ago I shared my sugar-free basic vanilla pastry. This recipe can make two small 20cm tart bases, so you only really need to make HALF the portion. But I actually have a nice flan tin that is 25cms. So I make the whole pastry portion, I use about 3/4 for the tart and I freeze the rest for next time.

Basic Vanilla Pastry
270g of cold butter, chopped
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 cup of ice water
2 1/2 cups (225g) of plain flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Raspberry and Apple Filling
4 Pink lady apples, cored
½ cup of dried cranberries
2 cups of frozen raspberries, at room temperature
Handful of almond flakes

1. Dice the apples. Roughly chop the cranberries. Place them both into a heavy based saucepan. Simmer on a medium heat. Give it a good stir every once in a while. Take your frozen raspberries out of your freezer and pour them out onto a plate to defrost.

2. Prepare the pastry. (I think you are supposed to process the butter and flour first. Then add water + vanilla. But I’m not very precious with my pastry.)

I throw all the pastry ingredients into the food processor (with pastry blade) and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Let it mix some more until it starts to clump together.

3. Pour the dough out onto your counter top and give it a good knead. 2 minutes is long enough for me.

4. Throw it into the fridge (just in a bowl with a plate on top, why waste plastic cling wrap?) while you clean up your counter top and wash your food processor. I only ever leave it in there for 5 minutes tops.

5. Roll the dough out between one or two sheets of baking paper. Try to get a nice round shape that will fit into your dish.

6. Grease your pie or tart dish with a bit of butter. Place pastry base into the dish. Work the pastry base into the dish so the edges look nice.

7. Your apple filling should be dry and you shouldn’t be able to see pools of liquid at the bottom of the pot. Pour the apple filling into the base and spread it out evenly.

8. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C. Take the tart out of the oven, spread the raspberries all over, and sprinkle with the almonds.

9. Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden brown. Eat hot! With cream or ice cream!

Enjoy xxx

 

 


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Cinnamon Sugar Waffles

24 July 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Waffles

The other day I had some left over waffle batter in the fridge. I don’t know how was that even possible, because we LOVE eating waffles.

Anyway, the batter was all thick and gluggy, so I added a bit of water to it and then it became a bit too watery.

I cooked it up in my waffle maker anyway. They didn’t rise very well, but OH MY the results tasted a bit like crispy, crunchy pancakes with that soft, spongy moistness.

They were incredible to eat.

I ate like 4 (!!), which is more than I’ve ever eaten in one sitting.

My waffle batter recipe has no added sugar to it, but that’s kind of pointless since I ended up sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on top haha!

Cinnamon Sugar Waffles

My Basic Waffle Recipe

65g of butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 cup of water
2 cups of SR Flour
pinch of bicarb soda
pinch of salt

I used to separate the eggs and beat them separately. But now I can’t be bothered.

So I literally just mix all the wet ingredients.

Then stir in all the dry ingredients, until smooth. Takes 2 minutes.

My waffle pans take ¼ cup of waffle batter. Cook them up until golden brown.

Cinnamon Sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top while hot, and my god, try not to eat too many!

Enjoy!


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Right, left, right, left… Do you love Body Combat too?

14 July 2014

I’ve been going to a few Body Combat classes lately.

It’s kind of fun. A bunch of ladies punching at the air, while a fitness instructor shouts at us over the roaring music. It feels a bit silly.

But after the class, my biceps, triceps and muscles on my shoulders and back GLOW with a pain that promises my arms to look like Michelle Bridges, so that makes it worth looking silly, right?

The last time I tried Body Combat was 10 years ago. I was horrifically unfit and halfway into the class, I wanted to curl over and puke. But this time I am much fitter, so I manage to keep up pretty well.

I go at it pretty hard. There’s no point in doing weak pathetic punches, so I try to give my punches some power.

My coordination is so bad though!

Geez I’m terrible at the steps, the fancy foot work and trying to remember the routines.

I managed to PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE during the class! Who does that?!

Right jab, left jab, right jab, left hook, right hook, left upper-cut, right upper-cut… TRICKY RIGHT?

I got my right upper-cut mixed up with a right hook, so I klonked myself in the cheek.

I stood there for a moment, imaging cartoon stars coming out of my left ear.

I’m sure the instructor saw me.

Then I spent the rest of the class trying not to laugh.. at MYSELF!

I guess I need to practice my WAX ON and WAX OFF technique :P


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Gorgeous Apple Pie (with no refined sugar)

11 July 2014

Apple Pie

I have been experimenting with different pastry recipes over the last few months… and I have found my winner!

I’m no pastry expert, but this one ticks all of my boxes:

It is easy to prepare, easy to roll, robust and elastic, it cooks well, it has a gorgeous buttery taste, and it has a lovely crunch!

Plus when I pile on tonnes of fruit, it doesn’t get gluggy and remain uncooked where the fruit sits on the pastry.

I have since made 4 or 5 pies/tarts with this recipe and the pastry always turns out perfect!

The recipe is based on a Donna Hay recipe, but I have omitted all the sugar. Still tastes amazing! Especially when it is filly with stewed fruit, which is crazy sweet!

Green Apples

Apple Pie Filling
10 green apples, cored and quartered
1/2 cup of dried cranberries, chopped

I grated all the apples in my food processor. Actually my 9yo son did it. It took him 3 minutes!

I put the apples and cranberries into a pot and simmered on low/medium heat for 30 minutes while I made the pastry.

The resulting apple mush should be dry and you shouldn’t be able to see pools of liquid at the bottom of the pot.

Rinse out your food processor.

Basic Vanilla Pastry
270g of cold butter, chopped
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 cup of ice water
2 1/2 cups (225g) of plain flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Extras:
Extra butter for greasing your pastry dish
1 whisked egg for brushing on top of the pie

(I think you are supposed to process the butter and flour first. Then add water + vanilla. But I’m not very precious with my pastry.)

1. Throw all the ingredients into the food processor (with pastry blade) and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Let it mix some more until it starts to clump together.

2. Pour the dough out onto your counter top and give it a good knead. 2 minutes is long enough for me.

3. Throw it into the fridge (just in a bowl with a plate on top, why waste plastic cling wrap?) while you clean up your counter top. I only ever leave it in there for 5 minutes tops.

4. Halve the dough. Roll it out between one or two sheets of baking paper. One half is for the pie base and the other is for the pie top.

5. Grease a 24cm diameter pie dish with a bit of butter. Place pastry base into the dish. Work the pastry base so it looks nice.

6. Pour the apple filling into the base and spread it out evenly. Cut up the other rolled pastry into 1.5 cms strips and place neatly over the apple filling.

7. I like to brush the top pastry with whisked egg, to give it that golden glow.

8. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180C. Or until golden brown!

Eat while hot, with ice cream!

Enjoy xxx


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Running With My Boys

10 July 2014

I have been doing a bit of running with my boys, aged 11 and 9.

They seem to like running, and I like running. So it works for all of us.

Basically, I see it as a fun, free and easy way to entertaining the kids (and wear them out), while I get a good workout too haha!

I take them out to random and fun places to run… we call it “training”. I tell them that one day we are all going to run a marathon together in Paris or London. I don’t think they really know what that means, but they like the idea anyway.

Running 4 Feet

While running, or preparing to run, I like to talk to them about running techniques, enjoying the run, working on your own personal best times, setting goals, working towards your goals and doing a little bit more day by day. But I almost never talk about winning.

I feel that I shouldn’t fill them up with false hope or set any unrealistic dreams or expectations.

You see, my kids are short. Like, really short. With short legs. I don’t expect them to win running races.

There are SO MANY kids that are taller, stronger, fitter, and who have longer legs… which give them a huge advantage over my kids.

So when my boys say they want to try out for a running race, or join a running team. I’m so nonchalant and casual about it, I just shrug, “Oh ok. That’s cool. Have fun. Try your best.”

And that’s about all I’ll ever say to them. I don’t want them to have unreasonable expectations that get crushed.

Champion Boy Cross Country

Anyway, can you imagine my utter shock (bordering on disbelief) when my eldest son came home with this?!?

He won first place in his school’s Cross Country event. And he received a Champion Boy medal for Year 6!

Whoa!!

My other son came in 5th place for his year group, which was equally impressive!

I was *bursting* with pride for the both of them!!

They have certainly taught me a lesson… that limits are in the mind (in this case, mine), as much as in the legs. :)


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Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

24 June 2014

One chilly morning, my girlfriend and I met up at Harvest Espresso, in Victoria Park.

Over a cup of hot coffee and breakfast we gossiped about our great loves… kids, fitness and food.

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

The cafe is nestled between a used car yard, a boxing studio and a tattoo parlour along Albany Highway. It only has 8 small tables that sit 2 or 3 people, and there was not much room to stand – it was pretty small.

The couple sitting at the table next to us were so close to us (like 30cms!) that I didn’t dare to tell my girlfriend my hilarious story about “one of my children puking on the floor”, in case I put the couple sitting to us off their breakfast. It was a shame, because my girlfriend, as a mother, would have appreciated that story and possibly topped it with a better one!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

Anyway, yes the place was pretty squishy.

But you know what… I LOVED the intimacy, the quirkiness, the warmth, the attention to detail, the understated casual atmosphere, the sense of uniqueness that you don’t find in large, cold, echoing, global franchise cafes.

These cafe owners were certainly doing something a little bit different. And doing it WELL.

So for me, there was a bit of the whole “I have to suffer for my amazing coffee and food” attitude!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

These fresh banana breads were calling out to me like tiny swaddled babies in a nursery. Pick me pick me!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

I have to come back to try one of these! My eyeballs are licking the screen as I type this.

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

My soy flat white arrived. It didn’t look pretty… but then again, frothy soy NEVER looks pretty.

It tasted great, that was the main thing!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

I ordered the House-cured salmon gravlax – two poached eggs, watercress, potato hash, yuzu kosho hollandaise, togarashi croutons ($22.50)

Gravlax is a Nordic dish made from sliced raw salmon, a kind of sauce and served with bread or potatoes. It have tried it before, when I was Copenhagen, but it was nothing like this! Harvest’s interpretation of the dish, using fresh, local WA produce and some Japanese flavours… was simply delicious.

The salmon was beautifully fresh. The potato hash was yummy and rounded the dish off. I loved the watercress. And oh my, the hollandaise sauce was the hero that brought it all to a whole new level.

Such simple, unfussy food was a real joy to eat.

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

My girlfriend ordered the Seasonal winter vegetables – Pan roasted beetroot, squash, beans, fennel and radish, two poached eggs, walnut pesto ($19.50)

Just when I thought that it was a potentially boring dish, she let me have a spoonful and I swooned. The veggies were warmed and cooked to perfection, and were doing magic things to my tongue with the walnut pesto. I almost had a When Harry Met Sally moment. That would have really upset the couple sitting next to us, or possibly have made their day?

We left with happy bellies, caffeine and a good dose of girlfriend therapy… it was such a fabulous start to the morning.

Harvest launches a new menu every season, which is a great idea, because it means I will definitely make an effort to come back at least 4 times a year :)

Harvest Espresso
629 Albany Hwy
Victoria Park
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 6100
(08) 9355 5884
Open Tuesday to Sunday 7:00AM – 4:00PM

Check them out on their website or stalk them on Facebook

Harvest Espresso on Urbanspoon


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Motivation is a Bitch

19 June 2014

I’m trying! I’m really trying to work at this exercise thing!

Most evenings I go to bed thinking, “OK! Tomorrow is the day! I’m going to run in the morning!”

I lay out my running clothes, my socks and shoes and everything.

Alarm rings at 6am, do I get out of bed? Nope. Nadda. Not happening.

It’s too cold. It’s raining. I have a meeting in the morning. My lower back is a bit sore. I stayed up too late last night.

Repeat for 5 days, and I end up feeling incredibly shitty with myself.

I know I’ll feel better after a run. I know it’ll make me happy. I just have to get up and do it!

But do I?!

Running Biatch

Well, today was finally the day.

It was 5pm in the late afternoon. It was cold, it was raining, it was windy, I had a slight headache, I spent all day in front of the computer, I was feeling stiff and sore, I had period cramps, and feeling fragile and emo. Yet somehow my self-loathing / self-motivation trumped big time and slapped me across the face. I smashed out a quick 5km while my kids were at after school sport.

Omg I felt so happy. SO SO SOOOOO happy.

I was freaking GLOWING WITH HAPPINESS.

I felt so good about myself. I even went home, ate really well and felt so fresh and energetic for the rest of the day.

Now if only I can do this more regularly…!


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Cross Country Running

15 June 2014

Cross Country Run

I had a beautiful morning run with my big boys this weekend.

We’re exploring our own cross country running route!


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Basil and Cashew Pesto

6 June 2014

My basil plant was going crazy the other day and it needed a trim… so I decided to turn it into pesto!

Pesto

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup lime juice

Pesto

Blitz it all in a food processor.

I think you’re supposed to add the oil in gradually, but meh, I got no time for that.

Pesto

Serve it up with salmon and roast vegetables. Or you can stir it through pasta, or spread it out on flat bread, garlic bread, or with bruschetta and fresh tomato salsa.

It can be stored in an air tight container for 3 days or you can freeze it for 6 months – apparently. I don’t know, because I finished it in three nights :)


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A taste of Malaysian food

28 May 2014

When I was in Malaysia, there were SO many famous dishes I wanted to try. But since I was only there for 1.5 days, I had to settle for what I could get!

I mentioned in my earlier post that I attended my sister’s wedding celebration, then after that we went out for supper til 2am. This is what we ate.

Taste of Malaysian food

Top left is a pink drink called, bandung. My mother used to make this for us when we were kids! It is made from rose syrup, condensed milk and ice.

Top right is Teh terik, a hot, sweet, milky tea drink. It’s made from black tea and condensed milk, which has been “pulled” or poured back and forth, from jug to jug in order to froth up the drink.

Bottom left is Roti Tissue, a paper thin and flaky flatbread, sprinkled with sugar and served in a cone shape. Sooo yummy!

Bottom right is Roti Planta, which is the same as Roti Canai but it is stuffed with margarine and sugar. It’s sooo bad, but sooo goood.

Taste of Malaysian food

The next morning, after only 4 hours of sleep, I woke up with a sore head and staggered downstairs for the buffet breakfast. I ate noodles in a fish ball soup, with deep fried tofu, vegetables and fried onions. The broth was so delicious and comforting.

In my early morning haze, I didn’t catch the proper name of this, so could someone help me out? Unless it’s called, Fish Ball Noodle Soup?

Taste of Malaysian food

For lunch, my sister’s Malaysian family took us out to Big Nyonya, a restaurant specialising in authentic Peranakan cuisine, or nyonya food.

During the 15-17th centuries, traders and immigrants from China came to the Malay peninsular (Melaka being the most prominent trading port) and inter-married with the local Malays in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Their descendants are called Peranakans. On of my uncles is Peranakan!

Peranakan cuisine is often called Nyonya food and is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay cusine. It’s pretty hard to find authentic nyonya food in Australia, so I was licking my lips with excitement.

Going anti-clockwise from the top. I ate… Pongteh (a chicken and potato stew), Ikan Cili Garam (fried fish with chili), Telur Cincalok (an omelete with shrimp) and Udang Lemak Nanas (a pineapple prawn curry). It was all so delicious and tasty!

Taste of Malaysian food

But this was my favourite. Nyonya Cendol is a dessert made from finely shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar), coconut cream, jelly bits and beans.

Oh my god, I was having multiple foodie orgasms. The ice shavings were sooo unbelievably soft, like snow, but creamy and smooth, the taste was mind blowing, the gula melaka was amazing. Oooh, it was heavenly.

I ordered another bowl, because I’m that kinda girl.

Back Scratcher

Lastly, this isn’t really food related. But it does show a cute picture of me and 9 of my aunties and uncles, in the Nyonya restaurant, crammed together, Asian style, waiting patiently for our lunch to arrive.

While we were waiting I entertained my table with hilarious stories of me (the day before, while touring Melaka’s streets) being chased out of antique shops by a lady with a feather duster, me almost being knocked over by a truck… and how I found the coolest souvenir for my boys!

A retractable metal back scratcher!! My boys have been stealing my salad forks from my kitchen drawer to scratch their backs at night… and I never know if they have washed it before putting it back (very unlikely). So now they can have their own back scratcher, that even comes with a little side pen clip.

Randomness aside.

I didn’t get to taste these dishes I was hoping to try out.

Asam Laksa (spicy curry noodle soup), Otak Otak (steamed fish with spices wrapped in a banana leaf), and Har Mee (Prawn noodle soup).

Oh well, maybe next time. Thanks for having me Melaka! That cendol was the bomb, I’ll definitely be back for more :)


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My Yummy Banana Bread

21 May 2014

Banana Cake

I have been using this recipe for years! It’s always a winner. It usually gets eaten up in one afternoon… because it’s so delicious and moist.

I actually wrote up this recipe last year. But every time I make it, people keep asking me for the recipe :) So here it is again!

I don’t add any refined sugar to this recipe. The result is that it tastes like a “crumbly bread” not a “sweet cake” . If you’re not used to it, you might think it tastes a bit “bitter”. So feel free to add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey or brown sugar to the recipe.

My kids will often slice it up, spread butter on it while it’s hot and drizzle maple syrup on top.

Below is the original recipe, but nowadays I’ve been using half self-raising flour and half almond meal, to make it extra moist and less gluteny :)

Banana Bread
75g of butter
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
450g ripe banana, weighed with skin on
2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey (Or you can just omit the sugar altogether).
¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda
pinch of salt
100g chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups (225g) self-raising white flour
Handful of sunflower seeds and pepitas

*I use 100g of self raising white flour and 125g of almond meal.

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 11cm x 22cm loaf pan. Line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper.

2. Melt the butter and let it cool. Mix in maple syrup or sugar (if you’re using it).

3. Add eggs and combine well.

4. Mash the bananas and add it to the mixture.

5. Add the chopped walnuts. Give it all a good stir!

6. Sift in flour, bicarb soda and pinch of salt. Stir slowly until *just* combined.

7. Pour into the loaf tin. Sprinkle with seeds and pepitas. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for a few minutes then cool on wire rack.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Taste of Perth Food Festival 2014

6 May 2014

Warning: Contains explicit images of amazing food!

On Friday night, I went to check out the Taste of Perth, a 3 day food festival happening in the city.

Originating 10 years ago in London, the Taste Festival has made its way around the world with the simple concept: they choose the city’s best and hottest restaurants to create 4 signature dishes in “taste” sized portions, allowing festival goers to pick and choose their own ideal degustation menu.

You have to pay an entry fee to enter the festival ($40), which featured cooking demonstrations, cooking masterclasses, cocktail making classes, and non-stop live music.  Then in order to purchase the “Taste dishes” and drinks, you have to buy “Crowns” -  the currency at the festival. $1 = 1 Crown.

I was invited as a “media guest” so I was given a complimentary ticket to the event, but I purchased $40 worth of Crowns for me to eat my way through the menu.

Taste of Perth 2014

Apparently I didn’t read the invitation properly – it was an outdoor event, and it was 7°C outside. So of course, I wore knee high stiletto boots with leather shorts, Isabel Marant silk and a Witchery blazer. What was I thinking?! Yes, I was a bit cold. and I was making holes in the grass with my stiletto heels, stumbling around like a drunk girl at the horse races.

Plus I went to the event by myself, so I was hanging around like a loser loner.

This year, 10 of Perth’s top restaurants participated in the festival: Bib & Tucker, Bistro Guillaume, Co-Op Dining, El Publico, Greenhouse, Lalla Rookh, No 4 Blake, Nobu, Print Hall and Silks. All big-name, popular restaurants, and I have only eaten at a few of them. So it was an excellent opportunity to browse!

Taste of Perth 2014

This was the scene at the stall by Bistro Guillaume Restaurant, well known in Perth for amazing, classic French dishes.

On the menu was Chicken Liver Parfait with pear chutney, croutons ($8) and Amelia Park Lamb Cutlets Ratatouille ($12).

Taste of Perth 2014

Decorated like a fancy Chinese restaurant, the Silks stall charmed the socks off me. It looked like a set of a Hong Kong ganster film, with dramatic back-lighting and two huge pots of water pumping steam into the air, making the atmosphere mysterious and seedy.

Taste of Perth 2014

However the food was far from mysterious and seedy. This is the Braised Pork Belly with lohan fruit and a steamed hollow bun ($12).

The queue was pretty long for this stall. There were 10 or so people waiting in the line. So I wiggled to the front of the queue (with my big camera in hand) and I found a lady who ordered this pork belly dish and I asked if I could take a photo of it.

It looked amazing. I could see the hot, juicy layers of fat sitting in the syrupy sauce. She poured the contents of the cup into the hollow bun, picked it up in her fingers and took a bite. I gave off a little gasp of envy, obviously it was my stomach speaking.

Taste of Perth 2014

I wiggled my way to the Nobu Restaurant stall, again the queue was very long. And again, I stalked a young guy, “Can I take I a photo of your pork belly?”

Yes, those were my exact words. And yes, he knew exactly what I was talking about.

Pork Belly, Spicy Miso Caramel ($12).

Taste of Perth 2014

Eventually I got tired of taking photos of OTHER PEOPLE’S MEALS, so I hoped into the queue at No.4 Blake Street and ordered a plate of Lamb Belly with pomegranate glaze, charred eggplant, fava bean tofu ($10).

Can you see a trend in the photos I’ve been taking? I was craving some belly in my belly!

The lamb was exquisite. It was soft and succulent, bursting with the smooth, sweet flavour of the lamb infused with herbs.

I was very inspired to try making some slow cooked lamb belly in my slow cooker now.

Taste of Perth 2014

This was another dish from No.4 Blake Street, the Chocolate Garden made with edible soil, macadamia rocks, salted caramel and peanut dacquoise, ($16)

It looked so cute. Lots of people were walking around, eating from their ceramic pots. I didn’t order it, because I didn’t want to eat dessert yet.

But again, I really wanted to try making this at home!

Taste of Perth 2014

I think the most popular stall for the night was Bib & Tucker (I did a review of their restaurant last year). I was itching to try their iconic dish (pictured above) Charcoal Roasted Fremantle Octopus, with Kipfler potatoes, ajo blanco, witlof and roasted almonds ($22).

But the queue was soooo long, and when I came back after 15 minutes, it was still long. So I huffed a bit and attached myself to the end of the line. I counted how many people were in front of me. Answer: 24. I pulled out my phone and after about 2 minutes of finger pecking, I looked up and hey, I was at the front of the line. It all moved along faster than I imagined.

Alas, they had just sold out of the octopus dish… noooooo! I gave the lady my sad face :( If I had tried this on my husband, he would have immediately, somehow, produced the octopus dish. But, in the rough and tumble of the food festival, I was just another hungry foodie… waah!

But she did noticed that I had a camera around my neck, so she let me take a photo of the last roasted octopus dish for the night (pictured above), before it went off to its lucky eater. I guess I’ll have to go back to Bib & Tucker to try the chargrilled octopus.

She also suggested that I could try the trout and I reluctantly agreed, only because I had lined up (for a grand total of 2 minutes), and I was really hungry.

Taste of Perth 2014

This is my Ocean Trout Tartare with harissa aioli, sourdough wafer, and crunchy capers ($12)

It was actually really delicious! The trout was so fresh and soft and juicy. The aioli was wonderfully tangy and smooth. And again I was quite inspired to try cooking this at home. Try, is the key word here.

Taste of Perth 2014

I wandered over to the Greenhouse stall, and made my third order.

Black Valley Beef Cheek with malbec braised beef cheek, bush tomato chutney, and saltbush leaves ($10). It was yummy, but not as soft, juicy or tender as the lamb belly. I was a bit disappointed. I probably should have chosen a dish that was “lighter” and more “salady” after eating the lamb and trout.

Truth is, this was actually a food purchase made based on cost. I had $18 of Crowns left on my card… I chose this Beef Cheek dish only because it was $10, BECAUSE I wanted to save my last $8 for…

Taste of Perth 2014

…this epic Salted Caramel Macaroon with salted caramel filling ($8)!

I walked back to the Bistro Guillaume stall and prayed that they didn’t run out of their dessert. Thankfully they had a lot stocked up! It was sooo large and soooo goood. It was delicious, even though I had to NOT think about all the sugar and butter I was ingesting.

As I walked towards the exit, full of good food, munching on my macaroon, I had a big smile on my face, and I concluded that yes, I had a great and fun time – even though I was by myself.

The food was fantastic! I loved trying the new and modern dishes from local chefs, knowing that I could try out more of their dishes at any time. For me it was a very culinary and artistic appreciation which inspired me to be more experimental with my own cooking.

For the total cost of the experience (it would have been $80), I think it was worth the money. I will definitely come back next year. But I’ll organise to go during the day, try out a cooking masterclass, sample a few more offerings at other stalls, and I’ll go with girlfriends who share my love for good food!

It’s also inspired me to book a table for dinner at some of the restaurants that I haven’t been to. And I suspect that might have been their marketing plan all along :)

If you check out the Taste Festival website, you might find out when the festival is coming to your city.

Enjoy!

xxx


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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!!