Monday, May 30, 2011

The search for a 'healthy' hot chocolate

Hello :) I stopped drinking cows milk about a year ago. Not particularly for health reasons but because I found it doesn't digest well with me and makes me feel a little sick :( I blame it on my Asian genes and a tendency to be lactose intolerant, but I'm not really sure! I still have a little with my tea and bake with it though.

But ever since deciding not to drink cows milk then I've realised I never drink hot chocolate! To be honest, I never really drank hot chocolate when I did drink cows milk since all the packaged varieties contain way too much sugar! But the weather is getting colder and since it's coming close to winter I've been feeling like a comforting drink after dinner. Herbal tea is nice and I usually have a pot of green tea in the afternoon, but sometimes I just want something more satisfying ;)

I currently use oat, rice and soy milk (with fortified calcium) as a substitute which I mainly have on porridge/muesli in the morning. I suppose I've never made hot chocolate with these kinds as I would never just drink a glass of 'oat' milk, like people do with cows milk, because it doesn't have an amazing flavour. I use it because it's quite neutral and I can stomach it really early in the morning.

But since having a conversation with my friend at Uni today about how she really likes hot chocolate at the moment (we're both nutrition students you see, food is all we talk about...) I decided I wanted to make some when I got home! Luckily I had just bought some raw cacao powder yesterday (because I want to make these raw fudge balls later on tonight) and my mother happened to come home with some dark agave nectar today so I decided to experiment! I heated up some rice milk in the microwave and added a teaspoon of each...

I thought it tasted okay. I mean, it was quite nice and warming but rice milk is quite thin so it didn't have that smooth, creamy texture regular hot chocolate has. Maybe it will taste better will soy milk?

So basically I want to know:

Do you like to make your own 'healthy' hot chocolate (i.e. not from a packet)? What do you put in yours? I want some ideas!!!

I've heard of putting the natural sweetener stevia in hot chocolate instead of sugar or my friend even suggested adding chilli?!

Hannah x

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Hello :) I will never get tired of seeing snippets of other people's weekends. Taking a peek into moments of other people's lives makes me smile, seeing how routines and simple pleasures bring the most joy. So as usual, here's a few snapshots into mine thus far...


Vegemite and avocado on toast! As mentioned in my previous post ;) The bread is a fruit and nut variety from Bakers Delight which I'm loving at the moment. The slices are quite small and dense, just delicious.

In the morning, after we picked my sister up from tennis we went to the Salvo's :) It's pretty much where I buy all my clothes (apart from Vinnies and Anglicare of course!). I found this lovely Country Road cropped jacket for $5. Winner! 

For lunch my sister and I made homemade pesto with pasta. I wanted to use wholemeal pasta but she wanted to use white pasta, so we made a compromise. Half, half! It was delicious, I haven't made pesto in ages! 

I  had some green tea I bought from China last year. They're little balls which unravel and have the most delightful flavour! I think I've seen similar one's in T2 which they call 'Buddha's tears'. 


I woke up at 6:30 to go for a run. It felt so good! When I came back I was super hungry so I made wholegrain porridge with rice milk, almonds, honey and sultanas. Very filling and warming. 

Then later on in the morning I met my friend Tara and we went and saw the movie Water for Eleplants. I'm a sucker for period dramas and just loved the film! The costumes, the scenery and the acting was impressive too I thought. Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

Afterwards we went to Berkelow books cafe. We talked about travels (my other close friend is currently in London, jealous!), books, music and hip bars we want to go to. It got me excited for Uni holidays! I pretty much get all of July off and can't wait :) :) I will cook and read and it shall be grand!

...but back to reality!

My friend got a chai tea. It came with a warm pot of honey too :) 

And I got a soy flat white. Yum! 

Wearing my 'new' jacket too. 

What did you get up to this weekend? 

Hannah x

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Date and nut loaf

Hello :) Monday afternoon is the one day I get home from uni at a reasonable hour (around 4pm!). I can get home, relax for a bit by finishing the Sunday papers (our neighbour gets a different newspaper and gives us theirs a day late- haha!), call a friend, read a magazine but most importantly: bake!

So this Monday I had planned (yes, planned) to make a 'date and nut loaf'. I feel like I do actually have to start planning to make/bake things now as I'm becoming busier. Or then it won't actually happen! Hence my post of recipes to make in May :)

This recipe is another treat that comes from Frankie magazines book 'afternoon tea'. Speaking of Frankie magazine, did anyone happen to get to Finders Keepers at Carriage works this year? I missed out, so sad! It's always so fun walking around looking at all the arty crafty stalls and getting some inspiration. (And checking out the arty hipsters walking around with their glasses of wine...)

Anyway! Here's it is...

Recipe: Date and nut loaf
1 cup chopped dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
60g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 drops vanilla essence
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease or line a loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Combine dates and bicarbonate of soda with 3/4 cup boiling water.

3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light, white and fluffy. Mix in beaten egg, dates, sifted flour, walnuts and vanilla essence. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

4. Leave cake in tin to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

yum yum! I don't think my photos quite do it justice, but believe me, it was divine! Moist, nutty, warm and lots of date-y goodness :) 

What have you been baking lately? Do you find you have to plan your cooking when you get busy?

And on a side note, I've just discovered my new favourite combination: vegemite and avocado on toast! This morning I had that topped with a soft boiled egg. Mmmmm

Have a lovely weekend :)

Hannah x

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday snapshots...

1. Raspberry jam on toast
2. The Sunday magazine and green tea. Doesn't Rose Byrne look gorgeous?!
3. Lunch: broccoli, asparagus, chickpeas, avocado and marinated feta 
4. Tea and a mandarin from Orange grove farmers markets. So delicious and juicy!
5. Greek yoghurt with honey & sultanas
6. Putting up some pretty postcards in my room

I've had a very busy week so it was nice to have a lovely, relaxing weekend. On Friday night I got to see Gypsy & the Cat at the Metro which was freaking awesome and such a great band to see live! Here's two of their songs: 

I hope your weekend was relaxing! 

Hannah x

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Carrot Muffins

Hello again :) I've just come back from a lovely brunch with a friend (at a cafe called "Envy" in Summerhill, if you're interested!). We both had brown rice porridge with stewed figs and pears and yoghurt mascarpone. It was just divine! I also had a soy flat white. Yum! Maybe I'll try cooking brown rice porridge for breakfast occasionally...

But anyway! Last night I decided to make Carrot Muffins as an after dinner treat. The recipe is actually called 'Carrot muffins spiked with goodness' because of all the extra yummy ingredients it has like cinnamon,  nutmeg, ginger, almond meal and well as carrots! 


Behold, the results!

I ended up making 10 smallish muffins (not all pictured!) and they went down a treat! It was nice to all sit down together in the lounge room, eating muffins and drinking tea. 

They were moist and light, I made  sure I didn't overcook them! I loved all spices and sultanas which gave it an extra kick! Mmmmm muffins! 

Here's a link to the recipe :) I can see myself making them again sometime soon! 

 I have my eyes on the prize! 

Now some music for your Sunday! It's a song called "Letters" by Matt Corby. It would appear he has gone from former Australian Idol finalist to bearded hipster. Impressive! (and I like this song too!). 

Well have a beautiful Sunday :) 

Hannah x

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Millet Mash + the Middle East

Hello :) So yesterday I decided I wanted to make some millet mash, which I blogged about the other week as a recipe I'd like to make in May. I did take a while trying to find millet though as I went to Coles and my local health food store which didn't have any! So in the end I walked to a gourmet food shop about 15 minutes away and luckily they had some! Here it is:

Its very simple to cook. You just bring it to the boil with twice as much water and simmer until cooked. Just like cooking quinoa! I used 1 cup as the recipe stated and it made a LOT. So next time I'd probably halve the recipe. 

I thought it was a lovely dish! It's creamy and nourishing, great for this freeeezing weather! And I really liked the texture of the cauliflower and onion too. Best to serve as I side I think, as a substitute for mashed potato etc.
I just decided to have some for lunch yesterday with some broccoli. 
And I also had some today for lunch with roasted potatoes, red onion, garlic and carrots. 
Yum! As you can see I'm loving veges at the moment! 

Here's a link to the recipe :) 

This is the first recipe I've made with millet and to be honest I'm not sure what else to do with it! I suppose it could be used just like cous cous, pasta, rice or quinoa. Or added in soups? Does anyone cook with millet or have a recipe for it? 

Speaking of grains, I've been also loving eating porridge in the morning! I decided the other day to have some stewed apples and berries with it too. However I think I added to much water to the pot of fruit as they was quite a lot of liquid. Maybe I should try just heating the fruit without liquid. Any suggestions? Thanks :) 

And here's some music for your weekend! It's from the Middles East's new album "I want that you are always happy". Really enjoying their songs at the moment :) 

Have a nice weekend!!! I'm going to go make some muffins. See you soon ;)

Hannah x

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mummy Biscuits

Hello :) On Mothers Day yesterday I decided to make Mummy Biscuits, for my mother, of course! They were to take to an afternoon tea we had at my Grandparents with the rest of our family. I had a lovely time sipping champagne, eating my Grandma's homemade sponge cake with passionfruit icing and drinking tea from an amazing teapot she actually made when she had a kiln a while ago. These biscuits went down a treat too, but luckily there were some leftovers to take to Uni the next day...

This recipe comes from a book called "Afternoon Tea" put together by the wonderful Frankie magazine.

Recipe: Mummy Biscuits
180g butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 salt teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Using an electric beater, cream butter, and gradually add brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into butter mixture and stir until you form a dough.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper (alternatively you could grease with butter). Roll portions of the cookie dough into balls, place on tray and squash flat with a fork.
3. Bake for about 20 minutes or until slightly brown at the edges
4. Place on cooling rack for about 5 minutes before dusting with icing sugar.


Yum! These little biscuits tasted a bit like nutty shortbread. And the mixture was quite dry, so I ended up adding another egg.

Happy baking :) :)

Hannah x

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Recipes for May + health blogs

Hello :) First of all, Happy Mothers day! It's a gorgeous sunny day too! I plan on making my mother some "Mummy biscuits", but more on that in my next post!

Now truth be told, over the last few weeks I've been quite consumed with Uni. As I've mentioned previously because of the early morning starts, travel time and late nights I've been opting for meals that are easy to prepare or in some cases already prepared. They actually have this amazing wrap at Uni with hummus, tabouli and salad which I've got a few times, but the fact is I haven't  really been cooking lately!

But I have been seeing some great recipes, mainly on blogs so I thought I'd write a list of new recipes I'd like to make in the month of May, as a way of inspiring me too cook more.

Recipes for May: 
1. Millet Mash. This recipe is from an amazing healthy blog called My New Roots and is a healthy alternative to mashed potato using the grain millet which I've never tried. Yum!
2. The Raw Brownie. This recipe is from the same blog as above and looks amaaazing. It's a super healthy and raw brownie combing dates, almonds, walnuts and cocoa.
3. Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard. This recipe comes from Sophie Dahls book and I've never made baked eggs before, so I'd love to try making them. I might have to substitute the Swiss Chard for spinach though.
4. Carrot Muffins. This recipe comes from the delightful blog Apples Under My Bed. They look so delicious and healthy too- and I've never tried agave before!
5. French Onion Soup. Another recipe from Sophie Dahls book. It looks divine and I can imagine eating this on a cold night with some crusty bread and a good book :)

Well there it is. Recipes I hope to make soon. Can't wait!! And I'll keep you updated on how I go ;)

What do you think? Have you been making some fab dishes lately?! 

Also, speaking of recipes and health blogs I actually bookmark quite a few, which I read most days. Here's a list of 5 blogs I've been reading lately:

1. Oh She Glows
2. Diary of a Nutritionist 
3. Susie Burrell's blog
4. High on Health
5. My New Roots

All amazing blogs, written by qualified nutritionists/dieticians and the like. Very inspiring and informative! Definitely check them out :) :)

Do you read health/food blogs? What are your favourites? 

Hannah x

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Staying healthy and avoiding weight gain at University

Hello :) Food has been on my mind a lot recently (…well when is it not!) It’s hard not to think about it, especially since starting university. Food is everywhere! You walk around and there’s people sipping on coke, munching on sandwiches or having coffee with friends. What I wanted to talk about is how to keep healthy and avoid weight gain at university. And I recently read an article, which outlined how it’s almost inevitable for first year university students to gain weight. Great!

Well it’s a lot easier to than you think. There are people walking around the campus eating, all the time. You see food and you want it. And the availability of food is one, which there is so much choice! At my campus they offer a variety of options including Thai/Chinese takeaway, subway, wraps, cakes etc, which I know others do- my point being the options are endless.

Food also becomes a very social event. You might finish a lecture and all sit down to eat. It is very rare to see one person of the group eating and the rest sitting and talking. If someone is eating, somehow you feel obliged to as well. Or if a friend goes and grabs a coffee, you might decide to want one too.

Do you agree?

Well I thought I'd make a list of simply ways to stay healthy at university!

  1. Make your own lunch and snacks. Food you make is probably going to contain less added sugar, fat and salt than takeaway options provide. Here are some healthy lunch/snack options I like to take:    
-Wholemeal/wholegrain sandwiches filled with salad and falafels, cheese, egg or another protein source.
- Vitaweats with cheese. Other wholegrain crackers (such as rye vitas) are good too. Just watch out for other crackers that contain added salt and flavourings.
 Vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, celery) with dip.
- Fruit. I usually take apples, as they don’t squash in my bag!
  Nuts/seeds. Great to nibble on during/in between lectures when you're feeling a bit hungry
-  Falafels balls. Usually make from chickpeas these are always super filling!
 Small tins of chickpeas/four beans. Great to add to salads!

Quick tip: to make an easy salad cook a few cups of grains/legumes (chickpeas, quinoa, barley, brown rice etc) the night before and store in the fridge. In the morning simply take a cup and mix this with a few vegetables and your done! Easy!

But, if you need to buy your lunch/drink at university remember:

  1. If you buy a coffee, choose the smallest size and don’t add sugar.
  2. If you’re buying a sandwich, look for one with wholegrain bread instead of white bread/rolls/Turkish bread.
  3. Try to avoid consuming soft drinks/iced tea/juices. These contain too much added sugar. And don’t forget if you drink a soft drink in the morning, the sugar is going to stay on your teeth the whole day. Fruit juice can be ok sometimes but it’s much better to eat the whole fruit as this contains the added fiber and will keep you more sustained.
  4. Instead, take a water bottle with you and fill it regularly. They usually have water coolers around the campus where you can easily refill bottles.
And some other tips:

6.  Always eat breakfast! This is so, so important! You need long lasting energy to get through the day! Here are some easy and quick ideas:
-       Porridge/muesli. Oats are very nourishing and especially coming into winter. I usually flavour mine with some cinnamon instead of sugar and top with some nuts/fruit.
-       Wholegrain/sourdough toast with: ricotta/honey, tahini/honey, almond butter or other nut butters, eggs, mushrooms, avocado etc. So many options!
-       Yoghurt topped with oats/fruit/nuts/seeds.
I haven’t written any cereals- for the fact they generally contain a lot of added sugar but I think at the end of the day it’s better to eat something rather than nothing!

7. If you want a treat- try baking it yourself! Muffins/cakes in cafes are usually very oversized and contain a lot more butter and sugar than you’d add in yourself. It’s a lot a more fulfilling (and fun!) baking too.

In saying all this- I’m not saying you have to have a super strict and restricted diet. Just remember that the greater proportion of fresh, whole foods you’re eating the less you’ll be eating of the processed kind! Too easy ;)


Do you find you eat differently at university/study/school etc than you do when you're at home? Do you eat what your friends eat? Any thoughts are welcome!

Hannah x

P.S. I wrote this on the train this morning, sorry if it sounds rushed!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The National Folk Festival

Hello :) I'm feeling quite happy at the moment- having completed my mid session exams! Now I just have to start studying extra hard for final times! 

In my last post I mentioned that during the Easter long weekend I was going to the National Folk Festival. It was held in the exhibition park in Canberra in which there were 5 days filled with music, dancing, street performers, buskers, stalls and food! My mum, dad, sister and my friend came too. We usually go every year and its such a great way to spend the Easter break and there's something for everyone! 

Now onto some photos...and there's quite a few! Also, some of them appear blurry but if you just click and view them larger the quality is better :)

Our tent. Every year we camp at the festival and this year my friend and I were lucky enough to be staying in 'tent city' which means when we got there there was already a tent waiting for us, with two small beds and mattresses. What luxury!

Volunteering. This year, to save money my friend and I volunteered at the festival which meant we had to work for 20 hours (5 hours a day). We chose to be on the 'waste and recycling' team...don't ask why! It basically involved walking around the site, peering into bins and if they were full we wheeled them to the depot and replaced it with an empty bin. Some days we had shifts from 7am-12pm which was hard though after not much sleep! Sometimes we had to wheel these huge bins around which was quite funny as they just kept rolling away and a lady told us we should be filmed...
Alas, it was an empty bin. Disappointment! 
Chilling with a bin and a can of chickpeas.

Food. There was such a great mix of food at the festival and you could basically try something from every culture each day! Here's a few of my favourite meals...

Hare Krisna 'The Feast'. This was a super filling and delicious lunch! I wasn't too keen on the deep friend kofta balls but the curry and the halava we're great! Does anyone know what halava is made from? We were thinking semolina.
There was a stall called 'Food of the Earth' which had great vegetarian options. I got this wrap made from a homemade spinach tortilla and they filled it with lettuce, hummus, falafel balls, tabouli and a choice of dips. We got this for lunch on the fourth day and it felt SO good eating fresh, healthy food after consuming too much white bread and rice. Just delicious. 
Some late night vegetarian pizza. My friend and I were actually lining up to buy some cider at the bar and a man asked if we could buy him some beer and bring it to his pizza store and we'd get a free pizza! So how could we say no?!

Music. No festival is complete without music of course! I think the term 'folk' was used quite generally though. There was traditional folk music but also world music and younger bands with jazz, gypsy and even metal influences. 

We spent most of our evenings at a venue called 'The Majestic'. There was mainly  mix of young bands (usually from Melbourne) and circus/street performances. It was always very crowded though as you can see we're lining up to get in here.
A local band called Mr. Fibby who we'd seen a few times before. 

A quirky band from Melbourne called 'Flap!'. There was a trombone and trumpet player which had a  jazzy feel. It was good music to dance to!
I thought the guy playing the trumpet was pretty cool. He had the whole look going for him with his duffle coat, skinny jeans and gum boots...

Other bands we liked included Julia and the Deep Sea Giants, The Crooked Fiddle Band and April Maze. Go check em out!

Out and about. 

This guy was hilarious! There was actually a person inside that dog costume running around and peeing on people...
My sister and I in the Chai tent. Check out her crazy tights! We spent quite a few mornings at the Chai tent listening to music, drinking chai tea (of course!) and eating there yummy selection of cakes/treats. I found there vegan pear cake divine!
Just watching some kangaroos jumping around! I bought this strawberry beanie at the festival much to my delight and spent most of the festival wearing it. 
We even got a chance to do some hula hooping at the circus tent. Lots of fun!
And luckily despite it pouring down with rain in Sydney there was no rain in Canberra. Just sunny days followed however by freeeeezing nights!

Well there you go. A little snippet of how I spent my Easter long weekend.

How did you spend your Easter?

Hannah x