Monday, September 1, 2014

Mindful Monday: Transitioning to Spring

Hello :) Today on the first day of spring (!!!) it seemed appropriate to talk a little bit about mindfulness through the transition of seasons. Peter, a friend and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, describes both autumn and winter as the yin seasons while spring and summer are depicted as yang seasons. While yin seasons are cooling, contracting and passive, the yang seasons which we are transitioning into, are warm, expanding and dynamic. Both yin and yang are constantly ebbing and flowing - and this generally dictates our health, mood and energy.

It's important to become aware of the seasonal changes we should make that accompany the warmer weather. So I thought I'd write a nice list of things to consider as we make this transition to a season full of renewal and rejuvenation.

a gorgeous bunch of ruby chard

according to TCM, it is the liver and gallbladder that are the organs of focus for spring. The liver, amongst other roles is responsible for moving the qi (energy) around the body - so stretching, exercising in the outdoors and eating green vegetables are all excellent ways to improve the liver's qi. I think I'm going to start swimming laps once a week, with the promise of a cold brew coffee afterwards ...

- start to embrace cooling, raw foods. In winter I made a lot of slow cooked stews, added ginger to my dishes and steamed a lot of veggies. That isn't to say we shouldn't have any more of these foods (in fact I'm making osso bucco tonight with homemade beef broth), however as it warms up, it makes sense to eat more raw, enzyme-rich vegetables and enjoy lighter meals. I have been making green smoothies (spinach, kale, frozen banana, green superfood powder, coconut milk, water) which I think is a nice way to transition into eating more raw veggies.

my green smoothie 

- for optimal digestion remember to soak your grains before cooking. Grains are perfect to add into salads and Sally Fallon, author of nourishing traditions writes that the best way to soak your grains is with warm water and salt, which can remove phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. I usually soak grains like barley and brown rice for a few hours or overnight, and less for smaller grains/seeds like quinoa and millet. 

A salad I made for lunch today - it had barley, lettuce, ruby chard, radish and raw golden beets finely sliced as well as boiled eggs (inspired by heidi) There is also a serving of fermented beetroot, apple and inca berries - from a local company called ferment it. 

I have actually started working with them on Sundays at a new market ... Woollahra Artisan Market. It only started yesterday and is on every Sunday till December, with the hope it'll start again in the new year! There are only 30 stalls, so it's small (just in a carpark on queen st) - but I had fun on the first day learning about fermented vege and then talking to people about all the benefits. It's a pretty amazing product - I'll talk more about it in another post.

How are you making the transition to Spring? What are you excited about eating?

Hannah x

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Afghani Butter Cookies

Hello :) On Monday morning I finished a charming novel in a cafe called the little coffeeshop in kabul (a $2 vinnies find!) Have any of you read it? Well, at the end there were a few Afghani recipes and I noticed this cookie recipe which sounded quite divine. I promptly bought some pistachios and went home to bake them. The cookies have a really lovely flavour - I mean who doesn't love pistachios or cardamom?! I love cardamom so much at the moment - I always add a few crushed pods to my black tea. The cookies are also made from rice flour so they're gluten-free and give it a nice nutty shortbread  texture.

Lucky for you guys I found the recipe online, so enjoy! 

Recipe: Afghani Butter Cookies (link)

Hope you're having a great week! 

Hannah x

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Spelt Crepes

Hello :) This morning felt like Spring, so I made some crepes and sat outside in the sunshine. I've made a few crepe recipes in the past, and this time I just decided to google a top recipe and see how I go! Well they turned out to be super easy and really yummy. I reckon you could even make the batter the night before, and enjoy them as a weekday treat! I used wholemeal spelt flour and was happy they still turned out perfectly. 

Recipe: Crepes (link

I added some labneh and maple syrup on mine this morning. Nice and simple. And had some black coffee in a teacup to accompany. Voila!

Hannah x

Sunday, August 17, 2014

This Week ...

Hello :) These past few weeks have been quite relaxed - working a few days a week and filling in the rest of the time with ballet classes, doing the bronte to bondi walk, baking lots of gluten-free tarts, reading magazines in bed and booking accommodation for europe in november ... yep I am not complaining! It is so nice not being at uni, and not constantly worrying about assignments and exams. 

A few weeks ago I also stopped my little market stall at Marrickville selling teas and skincare - to be honest I wasn't making enough money for it to be viable. I could have worked more on signage etc to boost sales, but selling skincare is difficult - it takes so much energy and talking to just sell one product! And when you add in paying for the stall and all the setting up/packing up time … sometimes it just isn't worth it! Funnily enough I don't actually miss it (ha probably cause I've still been going to the market every week) so it must have been the right time to stop. 

So I have been working every now and again at a few other market stalls, helping out with food prep for a small catering business who also sell at the markets - just doing a few odd jobs here and there which seems to be enough for the moment. Well anyway … I thought I'd share with you some highlights of my week!

I made a batch of granola and gifted some to my friend (in an old sauerkraut jar!)

I went to west juliett in marrickville for lunch with a friend and had the slow cooked pork on sonoma miche - so good !! 

Then we had an afternoon coffee at brewtown newtown - and no that ain't my mustache wax!

I bought two packets of this haloumi cause it's the best (from a deli near north sydney station) 

I bought this cute english tea cup and saucer for $6

I splurged on a super warm mustard scarf from Uimi (at the shop funkis in paddington) and haven't taken it off since! I decided to purchase it for europe - and intend on wearing it everyday.

And today there was Sydney's first tea festival on at carriageworks! If only I'd known about it earlier the tea company I work for little china teas could of had a stall! We'll have to go there next year. Anyway it was a great venue and despite the rain there were plenty of tea lovers out ready to stock up and sip on lots of samples.

I bought some Australian grown green tea from perfect south which I am looking forward to enjoying in the morning, and also bought some raw urban honey from marrickville. 

Oh and lunch today - lots of local goodness from the markets including this yummy gluten-free turmeric potato bread from the irish soda bread stall at marrickville markets.

I hope you had a lovely weekend! Did anyone else catch the tea festival in sydney?

Hannah x

ps see you tomorrow for a mindful monday post!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fried Eggs & Sauteed Millet

Hello :) I think I'll start doing a few more shorter recipe posts. So here's what I had for breakfast this morning. I posted this photo on instagram (@hfong14) this morning as part of Heidi's #wednesdaybreakfastclub series - where each Wednesday she (and others) share what we eat for brekky. It's a pretty cool idea and there's lots inspiring dishes!

I was inspired to make this recipe from a new blog I discovered yesterday aptly named what should I eat for breakfast today? I love the layout and gorgeous photos from the blog ... I've already bookmarked a few more recipes - so check it out! Well I saw a recipe for millet cakes which I based this on- though couldn't be bothered to form the mixture into patties. So sauteed millet it is!

Fried Eggs & Sauteed Millet (serves 1)

1/4 cup millet (you could also use quinoa)
2 cups water

Rinse the millet and bring it to the boil, then pop a lid on it and let it cook through until the water is absorbed (around 20 minutes)

Once the millet is cooked, I sauteed it with the following ingredients -

chopped spinach and kale
leftover breadcrumbs
a little fennel and a pinch of fennel seeds

other yummy things you could add: chilli flakes, grated carrot, cabbage, zucchini or herbs.

Then I added the eggs to the same pan and let them cook for a while sunny side up! I have been adding fennel seeds to a lot of my cooking lately (for example a lasagne and osso bucco this week) - it's such a nice addition.

Now, I had quite a bit of time this morning so had time to cook the millet and everything. But if you don't have much time to cook brekky in the morning then I'd suggest cooking about 1 cup of millet the night before which will be enough for a few brekkies and lunches throughout the week - then in the morning you just need to fry it slightly with the eggs. Too easy! 

What have you been eating for brekky lately? 

Hannah x

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mindful Mondays: How Do You Want To Feel?

Hello :) Having an interest in food and health means that I'm naturally following people via blogs and instagram that are relatively like minded. It's nice to follow so many people that work in the health and wellbeing industry - and means I'm always reading posts and watching videos that I find interesting, as they pop up on my radar.

Well - the other week somehow I got to watching this video with danielle laporte who is an author (amongst other titles) of the desire map - a program about how to create goals based on how do you want to feel? Here's a quote from her website ...."what if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? what if your most desired feelings consciously formed how you want to plan your day, your year, your career, your holidays - your life?"

Now, I haven't read through the entire program, but I do really like the idea of shifting the focus from just reaching a goal (or whatever it may be) to how you want to feel in that moment or day or week etc. I mean we all want to feel good somehow... that's why we jump out of bed to practice yoga or go for a morning walk or meditate. Sure, we might become more flexible or improve our strength etc - but if we dive a little deeper ... we also know how calm and grounded we will feel. So perhaps by focusing on the actual feeling such as joy or freedom - we can then change our behaviours and choices. Interesting ...

I'd love to know if you've come across the desire map before or ever thought about how the choices you make align with how you want to feel? For myself I think it's a great way of thinking - and a motivator for practising a morning or evening routine with the intention of feeling calm and grounded.

Hannah x

ps. I should probably rename this series mindful tuesday, haha sorry!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Favourite Coffee Spots

Hello :) I thought I'd do a post about some of my favourite places to get coffee around Sydney (mostly in the inner west). I have probably mentioned most of these in previous posts, but it's nice to do a collective post I reckon. Apart from great coffee, the vibe, seating etc is definitely important too. I usually drink piccolos (nice and strong!) or cold filters when it's warmer .... so here are some of my favs!

Black Star Pastry, Newtown
I love this tiny little cafe - especially after yoga when it's quiet on a weekday morning. Sometimes I'll grab a pie for lunch too, they're pretty delicious!

Gumption, Strand Arcade
Whenever I'm in the city, I like to go here. It only opened late last year by the lady who owns Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville (another great spot). If you love excellent strong coffee, this is the place to be!

recent coffee break at Gumption & sneaky chocolate from haighs

Fleetwood Macchiato, Erskineville 
A great little cafe in Erskineville that does a refreshing cold filer. They get bonus points for offering a 50 cents discount when you bring your own cup! It's a cafe that I'll happily sit in by myself with a good book.

Campos Coffee, Ashfield and Newtown
Living in Ashfield, I should probably mention the best coffee place! Campos coffee on the top level of the mall. And I should also mention Campos in Newtown cause it's another great one!

Brewtown Newtown, Newtown (of course!)
This place is always busy (though was lucky to almost have the long table to myself this morning!) and so it should be - excellent coffee, sparkling water as 'tap water', the loveliest tea cups by samantha robinson and the food looks good too (though I've actually never eaten there!)

piccolo sipping and magazine reading at brewtown newtown

212 Blu, Newtown
This cafe opened late last year and is on Australia Street, just up from Black Star Pastry. I like the nice Scandinavian layout and you get a free macaron when you order a cold filter, which is pretty sweet.

Plunge, Summerhill 
Summerhill is only a walk away and has so many lovely cafes! If I'm meeting a friend there, I'll usually sit in the courtyard of Envy, but lately I have been popping into this cafe for a takeaway on the main street.

takeaway piccolo from plunge 

Aaaaand some other places I like (but don't go to often) - the sensory lab in bondi, reuben hills in surry hills, toby's estate near broadway, bourke st bakery in surry hills and north sydney

Oh and recent discovery! I went to brighton the corner in petersham the other day with mum after her yoga class - excellent coffee and custard tarts (from luxe) ... will be back!

Anyone else love these cafes? Tell me Sydney peeps - what are your favourite coffee spots? 

Hope you have a great weekend with lots of coffee sipping!

Hannah x