Friday, March 30, 2012

Roast Sweet Potato = delicious!

Hello :) Roasted sweet potatoes seems to be the perfect addition to my meals of late. They add a lovely sweetness & bulk up meals too, keeping me satisfied! I've been baking them with the skins left on, why I haven't done this the whole time I have no idea. And lately I've been having sweet potato with...

Spinach & bean curd dumplings and organic ramen. I only just discovered they sell frozen packs of dumplings, at my favourite dumpling restaurant, so I've been stocking up. Buying them frozen is a cheaper alternative too. Such a fabulous quick meal. All you do is steam the dumplings and cook the noodles!
Buckwheat & quinoa corn fritters.
Wood smoked salmon, steamed broccoli and asparagus and millet. I've started eating wood smoked salmon, from a stall at Marrickville markets and this one is topped with lemon and's just divine :)

So if you're looking for an accompaniment for dinner, you can't go past roasted sweet potatoes! And as usual, what did I do with leftovers? I made a salad with the potatoes, millet, steamed vegetables and chickpeas for uni the next day :)

It's Friday! What are you going to be cooking this weekend?

Hannah x

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Buckwheat & Quinoa Corn Fritters

Hello :) I was most happy when a few weeks ago, I discovered where to buy Australian quinoa, from Tasmania in fact. You see unfortunately, even though quinoa is a fabulous nutritious superfood, we in the West weren't the first to discover that! It's been a staple food in South America (particularly Bolivia) and now the ethical issue is we're now taking one of their staples, naming it the new "trendy seed" and are quickly incorporating it into our diet.

The short answer is for a lot of people now who have relied on quinoa in their diet (especially important for vegetarians or those who cannot afford meat, because it's a complete protein), it's now become very expensive as most of it is exported and many are forced to consume poorer quality carbohydrates such as pasta and noodles. Yes, there are other examples of this and I’m not saying, never buy quinoa again, but it’s just another reason to buy local if you can. It’s an interesting topic and distressing too, something we probably don’t tend to think about. I had no idea until I read a few articles. 

I bought the Australia quinoa from a place called Alfalfa House, in Enmore (opposite Enmore theatre). It’s a not-for-profit food co-op, take your own containers type of place where you can buy numerous types of nuts, seeds, grains flours etc. You can get discounts by becoming a member and volunteering too. Awesome! But the thing I discovered about this Australian quinoa is that it still has the naturally occurring outer coating, saponin, which gives it a bitter flavour. Most of the time quinoa has been rinsed to get rid of the coating you see.  The first time I cooked it, I only rinsed it quickly and it tasted pretty, well, bitter. But after rinsing it a few times, it was fine.

I also bought buckwheat a little while ago, although haven’t really known what to do with it. It’s quite interesting being neither, a grain or seed, but in fact a fruit. Rather confusing, considering it’s called buckwheat. This particular buckwheat has been activated, meaning it’s been soaked and dehydrated first, making it very easy to digest.

Now, let’s talk about these fritters! I decided to make them last Friday night, when as per usual I wanted something quick but healthy. Quinoa Corn Fritters (recipe link)... thanks Heidi! I just added ½ cup cooked buckwheat. 

I thought they turned out wonderfully :) Crispy quinoa & buckwheat tastes pretty awesome, and totally jazzes up corn fritters. Served with roasted sweet potatoes, yummo. Oh and with the leftovers I scrambled the mixture and topped with haloumi. Gosh, I love leftovers! 

Australian quinoa is sold online here 

Hannah x

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Beauty: Epsom Bath Salts

Hello :) I have decided to get back to Sunday Beauty posts, so here goes. This week I'll be talking about foot baths or for those lucky enough to have a real bath, those too! I've started to think how important it is to have time out for relaxing & taking a break. You know? Especially when life seems to get busier (ahem, uni & work) and there seems to be less time in the day. This is where a lovely foot bath comes in handy, for instant de-stressing fun times.

I have wanted to buy some bath salts for some time now. I used to get home from work with sore feet from standing up for several hours. It's not so bad now, but it's still nice to get home and pop your feet in a bath. I found a few scented bath salts, but they were so darn pricey I decided to make my own using Epsom Salts. On the packet of mine it reads that "epsom salts are known to relieve strain and tension by replenishing the body's magnesium levels which are depleted by stress. This leaves you feeling calm and relaxed". There you go! I bought these from a natural health emporium, but I'm sure it's available in supermarkets.  

Basically, all I do is add a few tablespoons of epsom salts to a teaspoon of tea or a few drops of essential oil. It's nice to use something that's scented. Then sit back with a good book! Afterwards, I massage a moisturiser onto my feet & pop on some cotton socks. Oh so relaxing!

For a funky gift idea, or simply for yourself...
Why not get a pretty vintage jar (or one you've sterilised) and mix 1 cup or more of epsom salts with rose buds and essential oils. Beautiful. 

Do you use epsom salts or other bath salts as a way to relax?

Hannah x

Monday, March 19, 2012

Little China Teas

Hello :) I am delighted to be featuring a local tea company today; Little China Teas. As well as being a tea enthusiast myself, I've also starting helping out. Very exciting indeed.

Little China Teas are a range of Traditional Chinese Medicine tea tonics. Organic medicine-grade herbs are used and all teas are caffeine free. The company began when Justin was talking to his friend Peter (a TCM practitioner) about coffee alternatives and from there started to create blends, which serve to be really uplifting and hydrating. All the herbs serve for an effect, and are not just there for flavour. I think of them as a fabulous way to integrate TCM into your diet and life.

Justin sells the teas at Marrickville markets on Sundays, and on Saturdays I've begun to help by offering tea samples at About Life health food shop in Bondi and Rozelle, alternating weeks.

This is what the set up looks like at Marrickville markets. There are 7 teas in the range, some of which include Uplift (really rehydrating and energising), Clean Out (a mild detox), Women's Balance (to help with abdominal bloating and hormonal regulation) and Slimming (gets metabolism moving). I must say even though Slimming is my favourite blend (it has ginger & ginseng, giving it a lovely kick), it's a difficult tea to sell..."would you like to try this, it's nothing personal!"

Something else we're working on and have started to sell are these TCM bites. They're a sugar free energy snack made with TCM ingredients, all serving a purpose. The ingredients include medicine-grade goji berries, shredded coconut, apricot kernels and millet (which helps bind them together). There is also a secret ingredient; I'm sneaky like that. I also added some grated cinnamon and ginger for different flavours. 

It's super fun developing recipes and trying out new ingredients and flavours and hearing some great feedback from customers, which is what it's really all about. 

Studying nutrition and being half Chinese myself, it's an awesome experience to be able to talk to people about the teas and learn more about TCM. And luckily the teas actually taste nice, I very much enjoy drinking them! These are the ingredients in the Uplift blend for example. The green herb is Bo He, which is a type of field mint and really refreshing. There's Zi Su Ye, known as purple perilla which is mood boosting, as well as Dang Shen, a type of ginseng. Gou Qi Zi are medicine-grade goji berries, which are very high in antioxidants and expand in the tea, giving it a beautifully sweet flavour.

In my keepcup, I've actually started to take a pinch of this to uni and sip on the tea during lectures, because it's just so uplifting!

 I have seriously been considering studying TCM or herbal/oriental medicine lately, it's just so fascinating and based on 3000 years of experience...can't argue with that ;) 

Marrickville Organic Food and Farmers Markets
142 Addison Road
Addison Road Centre
Marrickville 2204


You can visit the Little China Tea website if you like (here)

Hannah x

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Puy Lentil Hummus

Hello :) I'm really enjoying my days, when I'm not at uni! On Friday morning, I walked up to my local deli for brunch. I had a coffee and a buttery puff pastry tart with passata, semi-dried tomatoes, ricotta, and fresh herbs. One of the owners makes his own puff pastry & it was oh so yummy and surprisingly light too. Lentils, semi-dried tomatoes and a loaf of rye bread were also purchased...for a lentil hummus I had in mind :)

Puy Lentil Hummus (adapted from Vegetarian, Alice Hart)
175g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
4 semi-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove
How to-
Cover the lentils with 500mL cold water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to a blender and add the garlic clove, the semi-dried tomatoes and a drizzle of their oil, parsley and lemon juice. Blend to a rough puree, adding a little water if necessary and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Although I prefer when recipes use measurements in cups, rather than grams, it can be nice weighing out the ingredients on a scale :)
Puy Lentil Hummus on rye with avocado and semi-dried tomatoes 

I must admit, I was expecting something a little more vibrant and richer in colour as the photo from the cookbook illustrates. But the flavour is definitely there, with the sweetness from the tomatoes and kick from the lemon and garlic. I think of this more as a lentil spread. 

And what to do with lots of lentil spread? Whip up some lentil patties of course! They held together nicely in the pan too. Yummo!

Hannah x

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Food Philosophy

Hello :) Let me take a moment to talk about something that's been on my mind of late. In the media recently, there have been such strong opinions and views about what to eat and the idea of quitting certain foods.

Is quitting sugar the way to go? So is gluten unhealthy? Maybe I should try the paleo diet? Oh wait, what about the ethics of killing animals?

I wrote a little while back, how I'm quitting sugar. I have read Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar e-book and agree that we are consuming way too much of it at the moment. And yes, I feel fabulous and might even do a post on some tips and tricks to reducing sugar intake. But reducing is the key word, as I don't think I will be cutting out sugar all together. I am all for eating for health, energy and beautiful skin but there are other reasons we eat as well. Food is an enjoyment and a pleasure!

Buying local is also what I'm really about. Shopping and supporting local farmer's markets, for example. Choosing organic when you can is great too. In the past few years I've gone from being a strict vegetarian, to eating chicken and fish on occasion, and now, eating red meat every so often. I'm happy to say I'm done with labelling myself! That's silly.

I'm not quitting certain foods anymore, just eating real food with lots of nutrients! I'm learning to listen to my body. Some days I'll sip on fresh vegetable juices and coconut water, and other days I delight in a coffee. And that is perfectly fine with me :)

Hannah x

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Snapshots

Hello :) This Saturday was spent in the sunshine, with friends, at markets & reading...

An early morning walk
I went to Eveleigh markets and a lovely blog reader came up to say hi :) It was nice meeting you Lyfina!
My market finds. I decided to splurge and bought some pumpkin, sage and goats cheese ravioli. 
 Oh man, I served some ravioli for dinner with mushrooms & walnut pesto. It was heavenly! I think a pasta machine would suit me well :)
This licorice tea blend is a favourite at the moment. It is deliciously sweet too!
I bought this novel for a friends birthday recently and now that she's finished it, I get to read it too. Wait, was that the plan all along?! Hehe...
Tulips from Eveleigh markets & how pretty they look in my room :)

I hope you're all enjoying the weekend!

Hannah x

p.s. I will still be doing Sunday Beauty posts, just not every week :) 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spiced Kale Chips

Hello :) Most of the food I eat at the moment, is bought from farmers markets. I really enjoy buying local produce and being able to talk to the growers and stallholders. I love working at the EQ markets on Wednesday and happily spend my weekend mornings at markets relaxing in the sun with a chai...

I tend to buy a bunch or two of kale almost every week. Fabulous for soups, omelettes and also for these nutritious bites.

Spiced Kale Chips!

1 small bunch of kale 

1 tablespoon of macadamia oil
pinch of himalayan crystal salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika 

I used macadamia oil because it has a high smoke point, which is good for baking with and has a lovely subtle taste. I bought the himalayan salt a few days ago, and its just so salty! And packed with minerals too, I enjoy adding it to my meals. 

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius 
2. Tear the leaves off the kale bunch. Wash & dry the leaves throughly
3. Mix other ingredients together in a small bowl and brush the mixture on the kale leaves
4. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Keep checking after 10 minutes (they burn easily) and take them out when the edges are crisp and slightly brown

I realise these spiced kale chips aren't everyones cup of tea, but I find them to be a great in the afternoon for an energy lift! Oh and they're yummy and crunchy too :) 

Hannah x

Monday, March 5, 2012

Coconut Milk Yoghurt

Hello :) Yes, I am still quitting sugar! And if there's one product that's hard to find without sugar added, it's yoghurt! So I was very delighted when I came across this coconut milk yoghurt in a health food store recently. I was especially excited about this yoghurt because its dairy free! You see, I have tried a few sugar free dairy yoghurts (mainly Greek styles), but they just don't work for me.

This coconut yoghurt has a beautiful creamy texture & is actually quite sweet tasting. The coconut flavour isn't overpowering either, its very yummy. Take a look at the nutritional information. Zero grams of sugar!

Ok, so there is one downside to this yoghurt. It's pricey stuff! It costs about $8 for 250g, which is probably double the cost of dairy yoghurts. But I'm using it quite sparingly, just mixing a tablespoon or two into my porridge or muesli. It is also lovely with stewed rhubarb, blueberries and cinnamon, which I've just enjoyed for afternoon tea :)

So there is my exciting sugar free discovery of the week! If you're interested here is the list of stores to buy this coconut milk yoghurt in Australia (link)

Have a lovely week everyone! I hope this sunshine continues, it makes me so happy :)

Hannah x

Friday, March 2, 2012

Brunch & Marilyn

Hello :) This morning I had brunch and watched a film, with my lovely friend Renee. What else are rainy days for? I took her to my favourite cafe in Newtown, Luxe Bakery. And guess who I spotted sipping coffee just as we arrived? Sally Seltmann from Seeker Lover Keeper! Yep, I was rather excited!

Well just like Sally, we both enjoyed the coffee too! I know, I'm terrible at segways. But yes, the coffee really is always very good. Renee opted for a cappuccino, while I had a soy latte.
We chatted excitedly about travel plans in our break between semesters & wrote down some suggestions on some paper kindly given to us by a waitress...
And then it was time to order! We both chose the granola topped with mango, nectarine and sheep's milk yoghurt. Yes, I lapsed from my quitting sugar, but that's okay. I really liked the sheep's milk yoghurt, it was super creamy :) 

Afterwards, it was off to the Dendy to watch My Week With Marilyn. Did we enjoy the film? Yes of course! I found Michelle Williams to be captivating and she really embodied the role. I admit I haven't seen any of Marilyn's films, but now I certainly want to! Have you seen it? 

Now it's time for some tea! 

Hannah x