Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 Health Resolutions

Hello! You know the year is coming to a close when there's Christmas leftovers in the fridge, boxing day sales are on and you're still trying to work out what to do for New Years Eve. A little early but I thought it was about time I did a post on some health resolutions I hope to keep in the coming year. I don't have an aim to lose weight or anything drastic but simply smaller goals to create a happier, healthier self...

Drink more herbal teas- although we must own at least 8 or so herbal loose leaf teas I find myself reaching for black tea throughout the day (which is still good for you!) But we all know the benefits of drinking herbal teas, especially white and green tea so I want to up my intake!
Stretch at least 3-4 times per week- whether it's doing yoga, making sure I properly stretch after going for a run or just doing some light stretching at home, I want to improve my flexibility.
Learn more about Chinese Medicine- maybe it has something to do with being half Chinese myself, but I've always had a fascination with Chinese Medicine. I was actually seriously considering studying this at university but for now I hope to read and learn more as well as cooking with foods such as shiitake mushrooms, soba noodles and seaweed.
Experiment with more ingredients- since becoming more interested in health/nutrition and reading more health blogs and books I've realised there's so many more healthy ingredients I want to use and cook with! These include millet, buckwheat, spelt flour, molasses and tempeh.
Try adding apple cider vinegar/ chlorophyll to water- I usually start the day with a squeeze of lemon in warm water (this kick starts the metabolism) but after continually reading about the added benefits of using apple cider vinegar or chlorophyll mixed into water I want to try these too. Plus, apple cider vinegar can be used in a salad dressing too.
Whiz up more vegetable juices- I used to make vegetable juices quite frequently but for some reason have recently stopped. They're a great way to boost your vegetable intake and especially refreshing in summer. Bring on the beetroot, carrots, celery and ginger!
Create healthy and interesting Uni lunches- Ok, so I know this sounds a little sad. I'm not starting uni for another two months and I'm already starting to think about what I'm going to eat. But it will be a fun challenge. Making lunches/snacks that are quick, easy to prepare, inexpensive and healthy!

So there you have it. My health resolutions for 2011. And also, just because I want to continue learning/improving my health, doesn't mean my diet in the new year will only consist of carrot sticks and hummus! I also want to learn how to make pastry and pasta from scratch and continue baking new goodies. As unhealthy as it is, I don't believe there is a better tasting substitute for butter in baking.

Do you have any resolutions for the coming year? They don't have to be strictly about health.

I won't be posting until 2011 (oh my!) so I wish you all a fabulous, safe, healthy and Happy New Year!! See you soon :)

Hannah x

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Snaps!

Merry Christmas all !! I hope your days been filled with family, food and fun! As I said in my previous post I stayed home for (well most of) the day relaxing with family. Tomorrow I'm seeing extended family and we're all seeing the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, going swimming at the beach then having dinner, opening some pressies and such. Should be good fun :)

But back to today! Here's a few things I got up to...

 Opening a few gifts...T2 Chai tea, a book on natural medicine, incense and dark chocolate with lavendar. My parents know me all too well ;)
For a late brekky I made Lemon and Ricotta pancakes and we had this with a fresh fruit platter and some Chai tea. The pancakes were perfectly light and yummy... I'm making these again soon!
Reading my new book in bed (And yes I'm still in my PJ's and looking rather spotty)
A late lunch. Roasted cauliflower salad, pesto pasta with ricotta, tomatoes (from the garden!), avocado and fresh mango. Delicious! Washed down with some sparkling apple juice.
Drinking some herbal tea in the afternoon. It's a 'detox' blend from T2
In the afternoon we went for a walk along the water at Bicentennial park in Glebe. It was such a beautiful day! My sister and I

Well lovelies, hope your Christmas has been spectacular!! What did everyone get up to? Any favourite dish or cool pressie?

Hannah x

P.S. Feel free to 'follow' my blog ;)

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas planning + Sweet Potato Hummus

Hello :) How's everyone doing on this Christmas Eve? It's pretty crazy that Christmas is tomorrow isn't it!? I've been planning/preparing some things to make tomorrow, as we're spending the day tomorrow at home eating yummy food then seeing extended family over boxing day. Food-wise tomorrow I'm making Lemon and Ricotta pancakes for a late brunch served with plenty of fresh berries a nice pot of tea. For lunch we're having pesto pasta with ricotta and parmesan and a roasted cauliflower salad (found here - don't judge me!) and for dinner we're not entirely sure but judging from all the food I'll be eating during the day, I might be fine with some fresh mango and nectarines! So yummy this time of year.

And this morning I went to the local Deli to buy all the cheeses for tomorrow. Parmasen for the pasta, ricotta for the pancakes and pasta and marinated pesto feta for the cauliflower salad. A very cheesy Christmas indeed, ha ha...

Today I also made Sweet Potato hummus which is a twist on the classic hummus and the perfect dip to take to Christmas/New Years celebrations! I got the idea from Sarah of the lovely blog My New Roots and you can find the recipe here. I basically just used a hummus recipe I always used and added the cooked chunks of sweet potato into the blender too. Here's the basic hummus recipe I used from Karen Fischer's book 'The Healthy Skin Diet':

Recipe: Hummus Dip
- 400g canned chickpeas
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste) 
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or flaxseed oil)
sea salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients!
So here's my sweet potato hummus. This recipe is according to taste, so add more or less of whatever. On Sarah's blog she suggests adding a teaspoon of ground cumin and caynenne pepper which tastes great, giving the dip an extra kick! 

Well I hope everyone has a wonderful and very Merry Christmas!!! And remember, everything in moderation ;)

Hannah x

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Banana bread + Etsy

Hello :) Today I was in a bit of a baking mood and since we had ripe bananas I made quick banana bread! It's a pretty simple and a relatively healthy recipe, using a tablespoon of margarine instead of butter/oil. The recipe is from a marie claire cooking book from memory, which I photocopied and kept in a folder.

Recipe: Banana bread
- 1 1/4 cup (185g) self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon low-fat margarine
- 1/2 cup (110g) sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup (60ml) low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup mashed banana
Line base and sides of 14cm by 21cm loaf pan with baking paper (or spray with cooking oil)
Combine flour and cinnamon in large bowl and rub in margarine. Stir in sugar, egg, milk, and banana; do not overmix, batter should be lumpy.
Spoon mixture into prepared pan; bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked when tested. (mine took about 35 minutes to cook). Best served just-out-of-the-oven!

So there you have it. Quick, simple banana bread. You can always play around with the recipe a bit by adding walnuts, honey, sultanas or whatever suits your fancy! As you can see I added some sunflower seeds on top.

On another note, I've decided to sell some vintage clothing on Etsy , a fabulous site which sells vintage/handmade goods. Please check out my store! I will be continually adding more clothing in the next few weeks. There are some designer items too ;)

And in other news, last night I saw the movie Julie and Julia which I thought was delightful (i mean the main character has a food blog- we're practically twins!) and I've just started reading "Lunch in Paris" by Elizabeth Bard. Food is overtaking my life! Anyone have a favourite movie/book centered around food? One movie I love is Chocolat, although that may be because it has Johnny Depp...

Hannah x

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sophie Dahl- Miss Dahl's voluptuous delights

Hello :) I've been meaning to post about Sophie Dahl's book "Miss Dahl's voluptuous delights" ever since I bought it a few weeks because it's just such a fabulous easy-to-follow cookbook! The book features 100 of her favourite recipes (with the vast majority being vegetarian) divided into breakfast, lunch and dinner of each season as well as a section on 'puddings'.
The presentation of the book is beautiful and rustic, making the recipes seem indulgent when they are infact quite healthy! Some lovely ingredients she uses include quinoa, buckwheat, ricotta, goats cheese and eggplant. I've already tried a few recipes from the book and recipes I really want to make soon include Tumeric tofu with cherry tomato quinoa pilaf, Lemon and ricotta pancakes, Wild rice risotto and Lemon Capri torte. You can view the book here. For lunch today I made her "Quinoa salad with tahini dressing". It's a light, summer-y salad and a simple way to use the wonderful grain, quinoa.

Recipe: Quinoa salad with tahini dressing (serves 2-3)
- 500ml/2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
- 180g/1 cup of quinoa
- 1/2 peeled cucumber, chopped
- 2 spring onions/scallions finely chopped (I used some red onion instead)
- 1 plum tomato, finely chopped
- 1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- Fresh mint leaves, to garnish (optional)
For the dressing
- 4 tablespoons (or thereabouts) of olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons of tamari (wheat -free soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1/2 a clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
- Honey (optional)

Bring the stock to the boil, add the quinoa, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes
Make the dressing- everything in a blender, and you could maybe add a little honey to taste
When the quinoa's ready, fluff it, pop the vegetables in, then douse it with dressing, and perhaps chop a few mint leaves on top. You won't need all the dressing but you can keep it in a jam jar in the fridge for up to a week.
The great thing about a recipe such as this is you can adjust it according to taste/ingredients you have. For example I tend to use less stock than recipes suggest so for this I used 1 cup of stock and 1 cup of water instead. I also substituted the spring onions for half a red onion and left out the red pepper. Because the dressing makes more than necessary you could also easily halve the recipe and just use that. 

And my sister picked some tomatoes from our garden today. Some of which went into the salad :)

And here's some more lovely music. It's "Flume" and "Skinny love" by Bon Iver, both currently on my 'Sunday morning' playlist. 

Hope it's been an enjoyable week! For me, HSC (end of highschool exams) results came out and I think I managed to get into the nutrition course I want to do at university! Yay :) And last night I went to Carols at the Domain last night, which was really good. Now I'm off for a run. The weather is just so nice...

 Less than a week until Christmas now! Oh, anyone cooking something yummy/creative for Christmas?! I need ideasssss ;)

Hannah x

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Sunday

Just a few tidbits of my day...

Tea and the paper
A bit-of-everything lunch. Steamed asparagus, a lentil pattie (rather squashed), cherry tomatoes and quinoa mixed with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts and some red onion. Topped with pepitas and sunflower seeds.
Books to read :)
Fresh pineapple! Yum.
As I was reading in my room I spotted a sleeping cat from my window...
So I went outside to take some photos. Awww
Oops. I think I woke up Mr. Cat
And finally. No Sunday is complete without some lovely music:

Hope you've had a relaxing weekend, enjoying the sun!!

Hannah x

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Summer Muesli

Hello all :) Despite doing a series of posts on healthy breakfast options, one healthy choice I didn't post about was muesli, a perfect breakfast for summer! Usually I'll mix whole oats together with toasted muesli (I like Carman's best) and top it with various additions. This morning despite not having any toasted muesli to sprinkle over I simply had oats with oat milk and topped this with sultanas, pepitas, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, chopped up walnuts and almonds, cinnamon and fresh strawberries! A very filling and nutritious breakfast indeed and versatile as you can add whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruits you fancy as well as fresh seasonal fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, bananas and kiwi.

Do you like making your own muesli? What's in yours? 

Hannah x

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lentil Burgers

Hello! Today was one of those days where it was hot and humid in Sydney and as much as I do love taking time to prepare meals sometimes in the summer heat cooking is the last thing I want to do! Luckily in the evening it cooled down though and I decided to make 'Lentil Burgers' from Lola Berry's Inspiring Ingredients book which I'm finding so handy at the moment. The great thing about this recipe is it makes about 12-15 medium patties which you can easily refrigerate and use within a few days in salads, wraps and sandwiches making quick, easy meals when you simply can't be bothered cooking.

Recipe: Lentil Burgers
- 500 grams green or brown lentils
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 1 small red pepper
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 cloves garlic
- handful or chopped herbs , chopped (coriander, parsley, oregano, thyme or your personal favourite)
- generous handful of sesame seeds
- salt, pepper and chilli flakes, to taste
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil or olive oil
- A teaspoon or two of cumin/curry powder (optional)
1. Rinse the lentils with water (this gets rid of the phytic acid, making them easier to digest). Add the rinsed lentils to a pot of hot water and cook for about 30 minutes or until they become mushy.
2. For the mixture: in a frying pan, soften onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Add the grated carrot, followed by the finely chopped red pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
3. Once the lentils are cooked, drain and place in a large bowl. Mash them up using a potato masher or a fork, then add in the mixed herbs and the veggie mix from the fry-pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Next, shape the mixture into the size of burger you like, remembering that the larger the burger, the longer it will take to cook. If you want them to firm up a little more, stick them in the fridge for an hour or two.
5. Cooking: heat up your fry pan with either extra virgin olive or coconut oil. Coat burgers with sesame seeds and cook both sides of the burger until golden brown. Cook on medium heat to low heat to avoid sesame seeds from burning.
To serve: place lentil burger on hummus and wholegrain pita bread. Salad of rocket, cucumber, cherry tomatoes topped with pine-nuts and lime juice.

So this was my dinner (before I made it into a wrap). A few lentil patties on mountain bread with homemade hummus, rocket, cherry tomatoes, yoghurt and a dash of cumin. Yum!


Hannah x

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Raw Fudge Balls

Hello :) I've got another recipe to share from Lola Berry's 'Inspiring Ingredients' book I posted about in my previous post. This is possibly the simplest recipe ever, using only 4 ingredients which are dates, walnuts, desiccated coconut and raw cacao powder! The dates act to help bind everything together, the walnuts add crunch, the coconut adds texture and the cacao powder gives it a yummy chocolate taste. They are vegan, dairy free and gluten free too and packed full of iron for sustained energy. Hows that for a healthy snack? I think they'd be perfect to take to picnics, parties and as a healthy alternative to Lindt chocolate balls this Christmas season.

Recipe: Raw Fudge Balls (makes about 24 small balls)
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
- 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder
Blend all ingredients then form into small balls and sprinkle with additional raw cacao powder or desiccated coconut. (thats it!) Wrap in cellophane with ribbon to make them look extra special :)

Here's mine! I put some on a pretty vintage plate, made a cup of Jasmine tea and read through some magazines. The joy of Sunday.

And this morning I woke up early (well for a Sunday) and went to the farmers markets in Marrickville. I came back with a lovely loaf of Quinoa and Soya sourdough bread and a bunch of kale. Does anyone have suggestions on how to cook or recipes using kale (apart from green smoothies)? I'm stuck for ideas. With the bread I decided to cut a few slices and topped it with tomato (from my garden!), red onion, rocket and crumbled feta. 

I get a little too excited about bread...

Hannah x

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baked Mushrooms

 Since getting two new health/cookbooks recently as I mentioned in my last post, I can't stop cooking and planning what I'll make next! I thought I'd actually start a little series on cookbooks I'm loving at the moment and share recipes from them. And who knows, they might be the perfect Christmas present for you or a friend ;) So to start off, one of the books I recently acquired is Lola Berry's book Inspiring Ingredients. Lola Berry is a qualified nutritionist and has a wonderful website full of useful tips, tricks and super healthy recipes you can check out here . The book itself is packed full of advice on exercise, daily meal portions, legumes, stress, skin, grains, digestion etc as well over 30 fabulous vegetarian (and some vegan) recipes I can actually see myself making. For a light lunch today I used her book to make 'Mushroom baked'.

Recipe: Baked Mushrooms
12 medium Swiss Brown mushrooms (I used 4 large portobello mushrooms instead)
60 grams feta
breadcrumbs from one-day-old stale bread
a cup of Italian parsley (I used basil instead)
lemon zest from half a lemon
drizzle of vincotto (or balsamic vinegar)
1. Clean the mushrooms (including the stalks) with a damp cloth. Remove stalks and roughly chop.
2. Combine with breadcrumbs from one-day-old stale bread, pulse in a food processor or roughly chop. 3. Combine with chopped parsley and lemon zest, some parmesan and a glug of olive oil. Pulse until it's rough. Throw the mushroom stalks in.
4. Season the mushrooms and drizzle with some vincotto (or balsamic vinegar). Distribute the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the mushrooms and at 180 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until golden and crumble feta on top.

I had two large portobello mushrooms with some baby asparagus and another drizzle of balsamic vinegar. They tasted really yummy and I'm definitely making these again soon!! :) What do you think?

Hope you're all having a fab weekend! 

Hannah x

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Berry woodfired sourdough bakery

On our day trip to Berry, we had lunch at the famous Berry woodfired sourdough bakery. It's located a few minutes off the main road but when we arrived about lunchtime on a Wednesday it was packed with locals. It's a gem of a bakery serving breakfast and lunch as well as local produce, pastries and their own bread to purchase. We had lunch there but ordered from their breakfast menu so I suppose it was really brunch.

Our food (L-R): beans and chorizo with a poached egg, asparagus and goats curd omelette with rocket and swiss brown mushrooms with spinach and hummus. All served on sourdough bread.
Close up of the omelette I ordered. It was perfectly cooked and tasted amazing!
A sneaky photo of the French waiter my friend got a little excited about...
Casual conversations
Some of the local produce to purchase including honey, dukkha and pasta
Yummy pastries/cakes. I got an apple tart (on the right) and now I want to learn how to make pastry!

Well thats the last of my posts on my trip to the South Coast! I'm now going to get stuck into cooking as I bought two cookbooks yesterday, so look out for some yummy recipes...

Hannah x