A few days ago I stumbled across a recipe for “Life Changing Bread”. Again, normally I would be skeptical about such a bold statement but given that I had recently made a bold statement of my own, I gave this recipe the benefit of the doubt. So off I went to the health food store to buy ingredients I had never ever heard of (psyllium, flax seed, chia) and $15 later (this was going to be one expensive loaf of bread!) I was ready to bake.
Essentially you mix all the dry ingredients together and bind it with a combination of water, maple syrup and coconut oil. Then you let the bread sit, and then bake for 20 minutes, turn the loaf over and bake for another 40 minutes, then let rest until cool. Was it good? Yes. Was it Life Changing? I’ll have to be honest and say not really. I found the texture to be a little bit… slimy.
Now I normally don’t like eating the edges in a loaf of bread, but I found the edges of this loaf to be particularly yummy – nutty and crispy. So why not slice the rest of the loaf and bake it again to get dry out the dough like a biscotti? So I sliced the rest of the loaf in to thin slices and baked at 175 c for 20 minutes.
Success! This time, the crackers were amazing, on it’s own, topped with pumpkin and cashew spread, topped with cheese and truffle honey etc. The crackers were delicious!
It was only after that I realized that blogger who posted this recipe also had a recipe for Life Changing Crackers on her blog. The technique is different though, it that she spreads the mixture in between two sheets of baking paper and rolls in to a thin sheet.
Whichever way you decide to make the crackers (baking it a third time like I did, or rolling it out in to thin sheets), this is a winner recipe… and dare I agree? Life Changing!
Life Changing Cracker topped with pumpkin and cashew dip
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I am one of those people that are always skeptical of anything “healthy and delicious”. I used to think those two words could never co-exist in the same plate, like “airline food” or “diet ice cream”. I must admit though, in the last few months I’ve had to eat my words, so to speak. I now love to challenge myself to find tasty and healthy food and my salad is the poster child for this. The “fitspiration” comes from a little cafe near where I work called “The Nook”. Smoked Trout, Watercress, Quinoa, Edamame, Beetroot…How can you go wrong with an ingredient list that sounds like a superfood checklist?
I hope I can convince you to try it – I know it’s a bold claim – is this really the best ever Superfood Salad? You’ll have to try it and let me know!
No particular recipe here today – just a general guideline on how I put this together.
Chunks of Black Pepper covered Hot Smoked Trout (or Salmon)
Hardboiled Egg (or a poached egg would be great)
Roasted Beetroot (sliced beetroot drizzled with olive oil and seasoned, then roasted for 25 min at 200c)
Toasted Pine nuts
Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar and a squeeze of lime to dress the salad
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Pam’s Fresh Lumpia
I met Pam over a year ago when I held a macaron class to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. She signed up for the class and we got along straight away (it helped when I found out she worked in the food industry!). When the class ended, everyone left, but Pam and Kath stayed for lunch and that was the start of our friendship. Today, Pam is not only a great friend to me, but she is equally close to my siblings. She has an open invitation to all our family gatherings.
I learned this recipe from Pam. It comes from her Ama (grandmother). If I remember correctly, her Ama used to make this and another dish, Misua noodles, whenever it was someone’s birthday in their family. Then her Ama would personally deliver the food to each family. What a lovely tradition! One night Pam made this and the Misua for our family. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday but the amount of work she put in to the two dishes made all of us feel like it was!
I could eat this every day. Actually, that is a fact. There was a period where I must have eaten this for dinner two straight weeks – sometimes lunch and dinner. This is one of those dishes that tastes so good and is so filling that you don’t miss the fact that there is no meat! Two things I’ve changed – I’ve omitted the fresh lumpia/spring roll wrappers but you could easily purchase this from the frozen section of your grocery. I also omitted the sweet garlic sauce that you pour over the spring rolls. This recipe makes a lot – enough for at least 6 people. It also keeps well so great to make ahead.
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons chicken powder
- 4 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
- 300 grams green beans, diced into 1 cm pieces
- 500 grams firm tofu, drained and diced into 1 to 2 cm pieces
- 200 grams crushed peanuts
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Optional: Cut nori sheets for garnish
- Fresh lettuce leaves to serve
- In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onion, saute until translucent. Add the garlic and chicken powder (for seasoning)and cook for two to three minutes.
- Add the grated carrots and cook until wilted, around 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat. Add the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted, around 10 minutes. At this stage, you will notice a lot of liquid seeping out of the vegetables. Add the green beans continue to cook around 5 more minutes. You are looking for the beans to soften but retain some bite.
- Finally, add the tofu and mix into the vegetables and cook for another two to three minutes. (Optional step:Pam drained the vegetable/tofu filling before assembly.)
- Make the crushed peanut mixture by processing the peanuts, sugar and salt in a food processor for a few seconds
- To serve, place a heaping spoon on to the lettuce leaves, add the crushed peanut mixture, top with coriander and nori.
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Hazelnut, Labneh and Honey Toast
Oh wow – how time flies. My poor neglected blog. It’s been nearly a year since I wrote anything and somehow I feel like I have to give you an excuse for the silence… The reality is life got in the way. New passions (Yoga! Running!), work, travel and I started trying to be healthier too. Somehow, it didn’t make sense for me to cook the same rich and heavy food I used to. I didn’t have time to make long and complicated recipes anymore… So the blog took a long break.
Sometimes people would ask me if I still updated my blog and I would always shrug it off and say “I’m too busy” but at the back of my mind, I knew I would one day revive it and maybe today’s the day? Who knows… I have good intentions and great (mostly healthy) recipes to share but I’ve also been there before where I’ve resurrected this blog with a few posts for a month or two… so let’s see. Hopefully this is a new beginning – a simple new beginning.
This is not so much a recipe but a guide to make pretty amazing toast. I don’t even need to write the recipe down – it’s that simple.
Start with some homemade labneh. Get some full cream Greek yogurt, and place it in a muslin/cheese cloth. Place the muslin over a strainer and the strainer over a bowl which will allow the whey to drain from the yogurt. Wait 24 hours before serving.
The toast some hazelnuts, in an oven at 160c for 15 minutes, and chop. Get some good quality sourdough (I used soy and linseed) and spread the labneh, then the roasted hazelnuts and finally some honey (I used honeycomb) and a pinch of salt. Bon Appetit, where I got the recipe from, also suggests some olive oil and a few turns of pepper which sounds lovely as well.
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Best Ever Granola
There’s a granola movement happening in our family nowadays – we can’t get enough of it. It started innocently enough. I had been wanting to try the granola recipe from Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison restaurant ever since I saw an interview where he said that he loved to run every morning and made his own granola. He thought it was a great idea to give a jar of granola to each person who dined at his restaurant. Apparently, his granola is legendary. I think… mine is better. I know it’s a big and bold statement but the beauty of this recipe is that you can adapt it to your taste.
The way I look at it, the basic recipe is made up of rolled oats, brown sugar, maple syrup and olive oil – from there you’re free to add whatever else you like. The original recipe calls for pepitas and dried sour cherries. I substituted macadamias and dried blueberries instead. My husband prefers his with almonds and pecans. My sister adds dried mangoes… See? I told you there was a granola movement in the family! Everyone has their own recipe which they claim is the best version. We can’t agree on which version is best. We can’t even agree on when and how to eat it. I like it for breakfast with milk. My sister likes it as a snack with yogurt. Her husband takes his with skim milk and my husband treats it more like a snack.
I’m sure as a family which version, when to eat it and what to eat the granola with will be one of those things that we will never come to terms with. But I’d still encourage you to try this recipe (or a version of it) and share it with your families as well.
Best Ever Granola
Best Ever Granola
Adapted from Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup dried coconut chips (or dried shredded coconut)
- 1 cup raw macadamias
- 1 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries
- Note: For the macadamias and pistachios – feel free to substitute nuts of your choice (i.e. almonds, pecans, pepitas etc)
- Note: For the dried blueberries – feel free to substitute dried fruit of your choice
- Mix the rolled oats, coconut chips and nuts in a large bowl.
- In a saucepan, heat the brown sugar, maple syrup and olive oil until the sugar has melted, around 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the brown sugar/maple syrup from the heat and add the salt. Pour this over the rolled oats mixture and mix until well combined.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola over it. Bake in a pre-heated 150c oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden and the mixture has dried. Stir the granola once or twice while baking.
- When done baking, add the dried blueberries. Allow to cool and store.
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Two months ago my husband and I decided to go for a run in a park a few minutes away from the house. I still remember that morning as if it was just yesterday. I took my GPS watch so that we could measure the distance we would go. The area was really more of an oval but truth be told, I wasn’t able to measure the entire distance as we stopped around half way through. My husband was out of breath – after 190 meters. The next day we ran the entire oval then walked another round. Little by little we would progress around the oval until one day we could do three or four rounds without stopping or heaving for breath.
Sometime in mid-December we agreed that we would have a goal, and that was to run in the Color Run that would be held in the Sydney Olympic park in February. So off we trained, a few extra hundred meters at a time until we were running the five kilometers maybe three or four times a week.
My brother, who runs marathons as a pastime told us that “one day, running the five kilometers will come so easily that it will feel like nothing…” that day, was clearly not going to happen anytime soon. We would finish each run, muscles sore, sweating profusely and trying to catch our breath. There were days when we would feel like sleeping in but we would try to motivate each other with little quotes like “there will come a day when you will not be able to run… today is not one of them” or when it was rainy we would tell each other that “there was no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”.
The Color Run is a five kilometer run loosely based on the Indian Holi festival. Everyone starts with a white T-shirt and each kilometer is associated with a designated color. As you run or walk (or dance) each kilometer, you are blitzed with color so that by the end of it, you look like some sort of colorful grunge art piece.
There is a reason that the Color Run is called the happiest five kilometers. The event itself was truly amazing. There were over 20,000 who participated and needless to say running through each color zone definitely made the run more fun. But what really inspired and motivated me was crossing the finish line with my husband. Here was someone who could barely run 200 meters just two months ago and was now finishing his first run. Something he never (ever) thought possible.
This salad was a recipe given to me by my Aunt Jenni. I am not sure what the origin of the salad was but I think one of her friends gave it to her. We used to call it the Qantas salad because someone said they used to serve this as part of the first class meals (I have never ridden first class so I can’t confirm). In any case, I’ve renamed it the Color Run Salad in honour of our first run together. It’s as tasty as it looks beautiful and it’s healthy too!
The Color Run Salad
- 1/2 butternut pumpkin
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 beetroots
- 1 cup semi dried tomatoes
- 2 cups spinach or rocket leaves
- handful of pinenuts, toasted
- 100 grams feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Peel and cube the pumpkin, sweet potato and beetroot into cubes. Toss with the olive oil, mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the vegetables in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- To serve, combine the roast vegetables with the pinenuts, feta and spinach/rocket leaves.
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