Cook this: (almost) paleo granola

On my naturopath’s advice, I gave up grains for a few weeks to help reset my tummy lining. The only thing I really missed was my morning bowls of porridge and muesli; I need my oats!

Because I eat breaky at work every morning, poached eggs and sautéed veggies every morning wasn’t a realistic option, so I needed something else… something easy to prepare in advance and easy to take to work.

Enter paleo granola. Basically, a whole lot of nuts and seeds, toasted and ready to top my green smoothie bowl. Over the last few weeks I’ve become hooked on it, so now that I can reintroduce some grains back into my diet, I’ve decided to stick with it, but just add some oats to the mix. And it’s pretty delicious!

Ingredients:
– juice & zest of 1 orange
– 1 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 cup mixed sunflower & pepita seeds
– 1 cup shredded coconut
– 4 tbsp chia seeds
– ½ cup rolled oats (leave these out if you want a proper paleo mix)
– ½ cup crushed walnuts
– ½ cup slivered almonds
– ½ cup chopped dates

 

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

2. Combine the orange juice, zest and maple syrup in a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then stir through the orange juice.

4. Pour the mixture onto the tray and spread it out. Bake for about 20 – 25min or until golden; stir the mixture around every 5min or so to ensure it bakes evenly.

5. Once completely cooled, store in an air tight container up to 2 weeks

Cook this: cacao, puffed quinoa & pistachio granola

I have the most ridiculous accumulation of cookbooks at home, and at one point had started to hoard magazines, as well.

When I realised how out of control it was getting, I decided to consolidate all of my favourite recipes from my magazines into smaller collections; I went out and bought a few large spiral notebooks and went through my magazines, cutting out the recipes I actually liked and thought I’d cook. I stuck them into the notebooks, and they now sit in a nice, neat little pile on my bookshelf.


I go through them every few weeks to find inspiration and ideas I’d forgotten I’d collected, and found some new breaky inspiration in one of my books last week; a Donna Hay granola recipe, using puffed quinoa, which I’ve been wanting to try adding to my breakfast oats for a while now.

I made a few changes to suit my tastes and pantry supplies, and ended up with an incredible mix, and the perfect way to enjoy a chocolatey breakfast without the extra sugar and calories – happy!

 

Ingredients: (makes 1 large jar)
– 1/4 cup cacao powder
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 2 cups puffed quinoa
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/2 cup cacao nibs
– 1 cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Heat the cacao (or cocoa) powder, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, gently mixing until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool a little.

3. While that cools, combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat and combine.

5. Spread the mixture over the oven tray, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, mixing it around every 5 minutes or so to ensure it cooks evenly.

6. Cool completed on the tray, and store in an airtight jar or container 2 – 3 weeks.

Eat here: BSKT Café, Gold Coast, Queensland (healthy & special diet friendly)

BSKT Café
4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach, Queensland
http://www.bskt.com.au/

Our quick Queensland escape weekend was actually a family affair, with us all there to celebrate my mum-in-law’s birthday 🙂 So, when they all arrived a few days before us and discovered some hipster-looking, kale-on-the-menu, drinks-in-jars café near our apartment, they all made sure to let me know about it and make fun of me a bit – fair enough! But upon menu investigation, BSKT actually looked like it had some great stuff that I really would enjoy, so after an early morning walk on Saturday, husband and I decided to have breaky there.

First up, gorgeous space – a block back from the beach, big and open and full of natural light, it was perfect for Mermaid Beach. It also had plenty of room – indoor, outdoor and courtyard seating, it looked like it was able to cater easily for the day long crowds (they do breakfast, lunch and dinner); apparently not, though, because walking past at 8am on Sunday morning, there was standing room only and it was PACKED! That’s always a good sign.

We started with drinks – husband gave the thumbs up to his skinny latte, and my mint matcha latte (made with coconut milk) was magic. Absolutely the best matcha beverage I’ve ever had, it was basically fairy dust in a cup. It wasn’t cheap at $7.00, but it was worth every cent. I need more.

For breakfast, husband went with the H & M Omlette ($19.00) – Shaved leg ham & field mushrooms folded over with melted Gruyere, served with superseed toast & house made tomato relish. It was a monster serve, and full of ham and cheese. Husband very much enjoyed it, although he did say that without the relish it didn’t pack much flavour, so he was glad he got a decent serve of that on the side.

I hated myself for ordering something with such a pretentious name, but I ordered the paleo veganola ($15.00). I even hate typing that, I’m sorry! Let me say that I am not a vegan or paleo worshipper, but a serving of granola packed with nuts, seeds, berries, coconut, macqui and a side of coconut ice cream sounded too good to pass up! And it really, really was – crunchy perfect granola, it was some of the best I can remember having… and that coconut ice cream was incredible! Husband got stuck into it, too, after he finished his omlette, and was a little disappointed there wasn’t more to go around.

It’s a great little café, although it does attract the young and beautiful “fitness crowd,” clad in their tight, bright lycra, puffer vests and a layer of make up. If you can get past that, though, the service was friendly and quick, and the menu is pretty great when you want a break from the standard surf club bacon-and-egg breaky, as are the brilliant range of coffees, teas, specialty hot drinks and juices  : )

 

BSKT Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here – weekend brunch spots: Wild Timor Coffee & Percy’s Aeroplane, Melbourne

Guys, it’s Friday. AKA the day before brunch time. It’s exciting stuff! Last weekend being a long weekend meant I had time for two outings instead of the regular one, so I thought I’d share them both this morning, in case you like to have a few options when picking out a weekend brunch spot  : )

 

Wild Timor Coffee
282 Sydney Rd, Coburg
http://www.wildtimorcoffee.com/

I always feel a bit bad visiting places like this who pride themselves on their coffee, because I don’t drink it! You can read all about the story behind the beans here, but basically these guys are sourcing organic, ethical and direct traded coffee from Timor Leste to help support the country and help it to prosper, while developing social programs that encourage the highest quality coffee. You don’t have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate that. Luckily for me, they can also brew a decent pot of tea  : )

While they say that the coffee is the biggest focus in the Coburg cafe, the food is pretty good, too. Simple and classic options like eggs benedict and a breakfast burrito, as well as dishes like their Timorese sweet and sour eggs which are pretty popular. Because I’m a sucker for good oat related breakfasts, I went with the granola, topped with berries, pistachios and coconut yoghurt.

It was nothing like what I expected, with no oats in sight – instead, it had a small amount of other assorted grains and lots of toasted almonds and cashews. I always expect granola to have oat clusters in there, so I was a little surprised not to find any, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed, given that it was basically just a bowl full of my favourite things – roasted nuts, coconut yoghurt and berries. And very filling – 3 hours after a normal breakfast and I’m usually hankering for a snack. 3 hours after this, I didn’t even want to think about lunch!

It was a little disappointing to see that the coconut and raspberry French toast was off the menu because I’d have loved to try that, but I’d happily visit again to try some of the egg-based dishes. It also didn’t hurt that it was a visually gorgeous cafe and staffed by some of the nicest people I’ve ever seen working in hospitality. Double points for the lovely young guy manning the cash register and the floor who knew almost everyone by name and made time to have a quick chat to all of his customers – you’re a star, mate!

 

Wild Timor Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 
Next stop was…

Percy’s Aeroplane
96 Denmark St, Kew
https://web.facebook.com/flywithpercys/?_rdr

I’ve heard so many great things about Percy’s, tucked away out in Kew near not much else, so I dragged the husband out last Sunday morning for a visit. One of my main reasons for visiting was the matcha panna cotta I’d seen pimped out all over social media, so when I arrived and found that it wasn’t advertised on either the menu we were given or the specials board, I was pretty disappointed. We were handed menus without much else of a word, so I figured they just weren’t doing it anymore. Luckily, the rest of the menu read pretty well, so husband chose the Mister Percy, and I went with the Smoked Buxton Trout.

The Mister Percy (crispy bacon, smashed avo and a poached egg on top of herbed potato rosti with a chipotle sauce. Literally every single thing the husband loves in a breakfast dish. And unfortunately underwhelming. For a breakfast priced at $18.90, you’d usually expect to get 2 eggs, but it was just the one. The bacon and avo were great, but the rosti were sadly a little underdone. Had potential, but didn’t quite get there…

As for mine, it hit both extremes. My breaky was comprised of smoked trout, rosti, baby spinach, an egg and dill mayo. The smoked trout and dill mayo were amazing! Incredible flavour, the trout was beautifully salty and smoked, and the mayo was absolutely perfect with it. But unfortunately my rosti were even more underdone than husband’s, so they left party uneaten  : (

On the way out, I couldn’t help pondering what breakfast would have been like if I’d been able to have that panna cotta I so wanted instead, only to see a small sign for it on the door on our way out… SO disappointing!! I so wanted to love Percy’s, and it had so much potential, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for us. That said, I still want to try that panna cotta, so I may still be back!

Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cook this: cranberry gingerbread granola

Because I’m kinda getting into Christmas more than usual this year, and wanted to find a way to extend the gingerbread man into a legitimate breakfast option.

You know what’s funny? I used to HATE gingerbread men as a kid. Absolutely hated them. I think it was because I was always given ones that had cinnamon as well as ginger in them, and cinnamon just makes me sick. So for the longest time I’ve gone without. Until last year; I gave this recipe a crack and just didn’t put cinnamon in (duh). Now, these gingerbread gentlemen are year-round favourites in our house!

I’ve made a few batches leading up to Christmas this year, too, and added dried cranberries in the last batch, which made them even better )didn’t actually think that was possible), so I based this granola recipe on that successful and quickly devoured batch…

Ingredients (makes 4 serves):
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 1-2 tsp ground ginger (depending on how strong you want it)
– 1 tsp brown sugar
– 2 tbsp nuts or seeds of choice
– 3 tbsp maple syrup
– 2 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– small handful dried cranberries

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with paper.
2. Combine 1½ cups of the oats, the ground ginger, brown sugar and your nuts or seeds in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil and vanilla; pour that into the oat mixture and stir through to coat the oats well.
4. Pour the oats onto the oven tray and bake for 15 – 20  minutes (depending on how crunchy you want them), checking every 5 minutes or so to toss the oats around, ensuring they bake evenly.
5. Let them cool on the tray, then mix in the rest of the oats and the cranberries, and enjoy! If you have a lovely friend like I do, you may even get a cutie pie gingerbread man to thrown in with your breakfast 😉

Cook this: quick & healthy – frozen fruit, yoghurt & coconut granola bark

Happy Sunday guys and dolls! I hope everyone’s had a great weekend, relaxing or action packed, whatever your preference! Personally, around this time on a Sunday, I’m usually winding down, hanging out on the couch or in the backyard with my other half and fur baby, enjoying a read through the posts from my favourite blogs.

One of my favourites, even though it’s not actually a blog, is the Beautiful Pictures of Healthy Food Tumblr – it’s one of the best collections of healthy food recipes I’ve come across! All that pops up on my WordPress reader are gorgeous, colourful pictures of delicious looking food, and a link to the original recipe source if I want to know more (usually I do, there are some really quick, easy, healthy ideas on there) – perfect for someone who, by Sunday afternoon, has the attention span of a goldfish!

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I saw this this picture perfect pile of fruity frozen yoghurt clumps last weekend, and have been really looking forward to giving it a go; after doing the groceries on Friday night, I finally threw a batch together, and they came out brilliantly! Perfect little snack nuggets, especially coming into the warmer weather (any time now, Melbourne…), and particularly because we don’t really keep anything to snack on in our house… no loaves of bread, no bags of chips, no chocolate bars; old habits die hard when an ex-PT marries a PE teacher! It’s usually not a problem, until one of us reallllyyy needs a quick little nibble between getting home from work and dinner time, or before a gym session when we wake up hungry but don’t want to eat a big breakfast first.

These little guys are perfect – Greek yoghurt is low in lactose/fructose (yay for me) and high in protein, meaning it’ll fill you up for longer. Fruit is obviously your friend, and a healthier way of getting a sugar hit than a handful of lollies. And the little bit of toasted granola and coconut on top make it a little more substantial and delicious. And the best part? It doesn’t take long to throw together, it’ll keep in the freezer for quite some time, and you genuinely don’t have to feel guilty when you’re reaching for a piece to snack on. What’s not to love?!

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I didn’t actually bother clicking through to the recipe link, because this seemed pretty straightforward, and I had my own ideas. This isn’t really a recipe so much as a few basic guidelines, because really, you can do whatever the hell you want with this!

You’ll need:
– 2 or 3 cups of fresh fruit (I used a punnet each of strawberries and blueberries)
– 500g tub of Greek yoghurt (I actually used a tub of Coconut Chobani + 400g plain Greek yoghurt, just to up the ante on the coconut flavour a bit more) – side note: if you want to make this lactose free, just use lactose free yoghurt!
– 1½ cups homemade coconut granola or any granola you want, really.

*** If you want to do the coconut granola from scratch, I used one heaped cup of oats mixed with 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, mixed them together to coat the oats, and spread the oats out on a lined oven tray. I baked that an oven at 180°C for about 15min, until the oats started to get a little golden (it’s a good idea to stir them around every now and then so they cook evenly), then took the tray out to cool completely. I also mixed some shredded coconut through the oats. I really like coconut, can you tell?

Once all that’s done, mix the fruit and yoghurt together in a large bowl.

Line a large oven or lamington tray with non-stick baking paper.

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Spread the yoghurt mixture over the tray, using a spoon to flatten it out.

Top with the cooled granola, and cover the tray with plastic wrap  (I was a bit cheeky and also threw some chocolate chips on top of the muesli after taking this photo, because why the hell not?!).

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Pop it in the freezer for a few hours, until it’s set (preferably overnight).

Chop it up into pieces, throw it into a plastic tub, and keep it in the freezer to raid at your leisure!

Eat here: Lola Valentina, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Lola Valentina
Hidalgo Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lola-Valentina/223565384385551

Let’s keep the international sunshine eats going for a bit longer and head over now from Thailand to Mexico 🙂 Lola Valentina couldn’t have been more different to everything else on Isla Mujeres…

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Going back to Isla Mujeres in January was so exciting for me, because although my last visit had only been for a day, I had the fondest memories of the place. One of my main regrets in not having longer there the first time around was missing the opportunity to try more of the food on offer; not this time!

While we stuck mostly with the dodgy looking but outstandingly delicious, mom-and-pop style corner stores and mobile eateries (read: tacos served off the back of motorbikes), Lola Valentina caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks. It looked way too nice, too hipster even, for this little Mexican Island. The menu was incredible – at first glance, it struck me as something like a Mexican Californian fusion kinda thing… anyway, it got my attention. We visited a few times over our Mexican sojourn, with the first visit being dinner:

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We have the chorizo manchego bombas on the left (perfect little starters that packed the biggest flavour punch), some sort of chili cheese stuffed chicken on a bed of mashed potato (husband’s) on the top right, and the piña colada chicken salad (mine) on the bottom right – highly recommend this one if, like me, you’ve spent a month and a half eating your way around cities like Chicago and New Orleans where deep fried, heavy, fatty foods are king! It was massive, fresh, and the coconut pineapple dressing was insane!!

 

We went back again two days later for breakfast, because the breakfast menu looked every bit as good as the dinner one. Husband’s breaky in the top photo below was a slightly spicy chorizo avocado taquito dish in refried beans – really, really tasty, but a bit much for me for breakfast! I had the very delicious and perfect on-a-hot-Mexican-morning yoghurt, granola & fruit bowl (bottom left) – some of the best granola I’ve ever had! And bottom right was THE THING to order – PB&J empañadas. Seriously. Inspired by a request from the owner’s daughter, Zoe, this is pure magic – creamy peanut butter, punchy jam and perfectly crispy deep-fried empañada shells. Best end to a breakfast and a 6 week international adventure ever!!

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Also highly recommended – the cocktails! Particularly the pineapple and ginger one – super refreshing for those hot afternoons, and it’s clearly healthy, too!

Honestly, looks can be deceiving – this place didn’t look like it really belonged from the first quick glance, but it quickly became a favourite. Incredible and creative food, the friendliest service, and only a few steps away from the beach; the beach which you should make your way to after you’ve eaten, for a nice, digestive relax in the sunshine…

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