Monday, 20 April 2015

The hard/happy post :)

You guys... it's one of those days where we are gonna get real again.
Because life's not butterflies and rainbows and unicorns and delicious chocolate brownies (yep, still on my mind) all the time. Life has cockroaches and rainy days and disgusting kitchen mishaps! And while those days suck! aren't the best, it's those days that make you appreciate the really special ones!
Where am I going with this? These past 2-3 years have the been the craziest, hectic, sad/angry/ confusing/ amazing/ influential/ important years of my life. I've been going through teenage-hood and I've felt some of the pretty unfortunate things that can come with it.

I've gone through the stress and anxiety of school work, the large weight loss and fatigue that comes with not committing to a proper vegetarian diet, anxiety/depression/insomnia all rolled into one (probably as a result of the first two), so, so, so many doctors appointments and blood tests and nights spent crying. Then recovering. Discovering a love for exercise, fueling my body with the right types as well as enough food, gaining back the weight my body needed, freeing myself from the dark clutches of depression, experiencing life once again. Then another slope down into abusing my love of exercise and healthy eating by over doing it and become obsessed, where once again I could feel myself getting pulled into a raging sea of worry.
Somehow through all this I still managed to work extremely hard at school, keep up extracurriculars (although I did have to stop for some time during my extreme fatigue days) and present a Steph to the world- maybe not the Steph I truly am/ am capable to be, but I soldiered on... and I will not lie to you- it was so hard sometimes.

Everyone around me seemed fine. Was I the only one going through this crazy torment of life? Why were all my friends so easy-going? Why didn't they have any health issues? Why weren't they obsessed with everything they ate and if they had exercised that day and what they would eat if we were going out? Why me?
I know now how wrong I was when I thought I was the only one going through the somewhat colossal battle of being a teenager. Like me, many, many others were masters of disguise. I could blend in a little foundation over the black rings under my eyes and plaster on a smile and come across as normal as the next gal. So, why did I think no one else was doing the same?

Any who- I wanted to write this post as a light at the end of the tunnel (before I enter another tunnel of course ;). I want to write this post and send it back to my young 14-year-old self who was barely walking because it was too tiring. Who's hip bones stuck out, hurting the skin around them. Who saw no light, none at all at the end of that long, bumpy tunnel.

Of course, that's not going to happen and it's the fact that I experienced those not-so-fun months/ years that shaped me into who I am today. That made me stronger than I ever could have been if I had an easy, happy, no-problems teenage experience. So instead I write this post for anyone out there who was where I was a few years back. Who's in that tunnel and just want to get out! Who can't see the light and instead succumb to the darkness.

This is for you- take my word for it- there is always a light! Work hard to get to it- accept help from others, accept the advice from counselors and doctors who at the moment seem to have no understanding of what you're going through, but actually might kinda know what they're talking about. :) It will get better, I don't know how I can stress that enough. And when it does, life will be so freaking amazing! I feel so blessed and free and in awe of my wonderful life, thanking God every night before I go to bed for it. This is life- it's full of crazy good and crazy bad times. But it's full of both and that's what we have to keep reminding ourselves when we get dragged down under despair!
I can't tell you how hard this post was to write for me. I don't like re-living the past, especially not that particular past and so writing out a time in my life that actually happened... I can hardly believe it. I mean you know it must be hard to write about if it's taken me around 6 months to a year to create a post on it!

I guess I finally realised that I hold some power and influence over the readers of this blog and if I can help just one person in their lives, than I cannot tell you how amazing that would be!

So tell me:
Did you have a tough teenage period of your life?
How do you get through tough situations that seem to fully take over your life? Nowadays, I remember that time in my life and think to myself that I got through that, I'm strong and capable and can get through anything.

One thing you feel so blessed for right at this minute? Family, no question.


That's it from me today friendly friends! I hope I've helped someone out today :) Also, sometimes you just need a brownie to get you through. the link is at the top ;) Have a great day! Bye friends! :D

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Brownies are a girl's bestfriend!

Brownies.
You either love them... or you love them.
In other words- best mistake the world ever made!
Of course, a traditional brownie consists of butter, sugar, chocolate, eggs, white flour etc. and comes out of the oven fudgy, moist (sorry!) and utterly delicious!

But what if I told you that I made something utterly delicious, moist and fudgy without any of the ingredients mentioned above. Yeh.
Even better? They're healthy enough for a super-nutritious, filling and satisfying breakfast.

Even better still? They taste sooooo good!

It must be your lucky day because I will share with you the recipe that you will need to try right away and then fill your mouth with the warm, fudgy essence of this delicious almost cookie/ almost cake creation!

High protein, sugar free, wheat free, super yummy:
Choc Fudge Brownies!

Ingredients:
3/4 rolled oats
2 tablespoons choc protein powder (or sub in 1 large tablespoon raw cacao powder)
1 teaspoon chia seeds
A small handful raw cacao nibs (feel free to throw in some choc chips instead if you want!)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons maca powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large tablespoon coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup greek yoghurt (sub in dairy free yoghurt if vegan)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease a mini loaf pan with oil (I sprayed with extra virgin coconut oil)
2. Place oats in a small food processor and process until forming a fine flour:

 3. Place oat flour in a bowl and add in the protein powder/ cacao powder, cinnamon, chia seeds, baking powder and cacao nibs
 4. Stir to combine
 5. Add in the melted coconut oil and mix until mixture appears like bread crumbs:
 6. Stir in the yoghurt: The mixture might appear a little dry and not runny at all- but that's just because the cold yoghurt has started to set the coconut oil and will melt again in the oven
 7. Press mixture into pan: Warning do not eat the mixture before baking... it is too good!
 8. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 mins until golden on top and slightly hard
 9. Turn out onto wire tray to cool for a few mins:
 10. ENJOY!
While my brownie was baking I made a berry ice cream:
 Which was just 1 small frozen banana and a small handful of mixed berries whazzed in a food processor until smooth and creamy- popped in the freezer until ready to eat.

Breakfast is served!

 I'm not going to lie, I was very apprehensive when going about creating this brownie. I love, love love love love, brownies and I have crystal clear memories of what amazing brownies taste like (even though it's been well over a year since I've had one) so I knew in order for me to actually enjoy this particular brownie.. well it had to be pretty darn good!
 But you know I wouldn't be sharing it here on this blog if it wasn't!
 I already knew that adding sour cream/ yoghurts to cakes made them amazingly moist and fudgy and so knew I wanted to experiment with that in this recipe. I also knew the flavour and addition of coconut oil would only add to the richness and fudginess of this brownie.
 What I didn't know? That it would turn out better than I ever would have expected!
This brownie was beautifully dense, chocolatey and so... brownie-like that after my first bite I knew I had created something awesome!
 If it looks like it has a slight greenish tinge- just remember the protein powder I use- trust me, all I could taste was chocolate!
And happiness..
 Also- that berry ice cream was off-the-charts too!
 Ice cream and brownie, perfect!
 Yes, ok, I was surprised. I did not think it was going to taste this good and so I urge you all to try it out- you will not be disappointed!
 And if you're anything like me, you'll eat a few fork fulls and then slap yourself silly, because this is a brownie- you gotta pick it up and take a hearty bite to fully enjoy it!

 That's better!

Now I could ramble on for days about brownies (and I pretty much have already!) so I'm gonna wrap things up here!

What about you?
Are you a brownie fan? I like them because I'm not the biggest fan of cake or cookies, either too sponge-y, or too biscuit-y... so brownies are quite literally my perfect dessert!
Favourite type of brownie? Apparently there are a few!
Pick it up and eat it or use a fork?

So on this happy brownie high, I leave you to your Monday! Have a fabulous day, eat something delicious and take time to appreciate the little things! Bye friends! :D

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Lasagne- My version!

So I was in the kitchen with my mum the other day when she was pulling out all the ingredients she needed to make a big, hearty lasagne, when she just stopped and sort of... took it all in.
She said to me; 'Steph, my lasagne would never have looked like this if it weren't for you!' She was holding some no-added-salt tinned tomatoes and a tin of lentils as well as a drained tin of chickpeas on the counter and some grated carrot and zucchini too.

It's comments like that, that really make me smile and feel like I am having a positive affect on people. It makes me realise that's what I want to do when I grow up- share my knowledge and ideas to help people lead a healthier and happier life! So thanks mum, it really means a lot :)

Also, the amazing smell and appearance of my mum's lasagne prompted a serious obligation to my yearning stomach to make a lasagne of my very own! It's also your lucky day because I'm sharing my favourite lasagne recipe with you- secret ingredients and all!

Steph's Packed Full o' Veggies Lasagne!
(serves 1)
Ingredients:
'Meat' sauce:
1/4 large brown onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 large carrot, grated
3 button mushrooms, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes chopped
1/4 tin lentils, drained and rinsed
1/4 tin mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tin no-added-salt diced tomatoes
sprinkle of dried oregano and basil
'Lasagne' sheets:
2 x 0.5cm slices eggplant (doesn't really matter how thick- just not too thick)
1/2 zucchini sliced into thin rings
'Bechamel' sauce:
1 1/2tablespoons hommus
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon water

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place a single serving bake dish to the side for later use.
2. Place the chopped onions, garlic and oil in a medium fry pan and heat on medium heat for around 5-10 mins until golden and translucent:
 3. Add in the grated carrot, mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for 2 mins to combine:
 4. Add in the beans, lentils, tinned tomato and about a cup of water and bring to a simmer:
 5. Meanwhile place the eggplant and zucchini in another pan (I used a griddle pan, but any will do) and heat on medium-high until brown on both sides and cooked through (around 5-10 mins)
 6. Whip up the cheese sauce by placing the hommus and nutritional yeast in a small bowl and stirring in the water until smooth:
 7. Now to construct the lasagne!
Start with some eggplant slices:
 Layer on some bean mixture:
 Top with some zucchini rounds (enough to cover):
 A bit of the hommus sauce (about 1/3-1/2 sauce)
 Top with the remaining bean mix:
 A teeny bit of hommus sauce:
 The remaining eggplant:
 And finish it off with the remaining 'cheesey' sauce:
 8. Now pop in the oven and bake for around 30 mins until the top is nice and golden:
 Of course you should probably wait for this to cool slightly before digging in (there's nothing worse than being famished, digging in, burning your tongue and not even being able to taste the marvelous dish you created anyway!)

If you're like me, you'll actually leave it out to cool entirely before popping it in the fridge so it's cold when you go to eat it for dinner! I also find that it's a bit more together? Easier to flip out and eat! I can taste all the different ingredients too a little better than when it's hot.

And that's my LASAGNE!

What was the secret ingredient?

LOVE...

And a whole lot of that hommus sauce :)

What about you?
Have you influenced your family in any way to make healthier choices?
Are you a fan of lasagne? I wasn't as a child but thankfully grew to love it! The cheese sauce always tasted weird to me...
Lasagne- hot or cold? Someone else must agree with me out there that it tastes better cold!

That's all from me today folks- make sure you have a lovely and [hopefully] relaxing Sunday, maybe make some lasagne! Smile lots and tell someone you love them- it just might make their entire day! Bye friends! :D

Thursday, 16 April 2015

When food makes me smile :)

Hidy-ho folks and happy Friday!
Are you happy it's Friday? I'm pretty happy it's Friday and with happiness comes smiles- big fat smiles!
It's not only Fridays that make me smile though. There's something else that can break me down, tear me apart, rip away any disguise or poker face I'm trying to pull and initiate a big ol' cheesey grin that simply cannot be hidden. Any guesses? Any at all? No- you're all clueless?

It's food you guys! Gosh I'm good at cryptic clues that leave you scratching your head (the title or the entire genre of my blog were no give away at all ;)
Lately food has just been on the upper quartile of the awesome range lately, for whatever reason, and there ain't no complaints about it over here!

Firstly lets take a time warp back to yesterday, around 12:15pm, the sun is shining, the birds a-chriping, the stomach rumbling, the head full of magical images of different foods dancing and pirouetting through the fantasy land in my brain... Ok, I think I need to draw a line at the extent of the things I reveal about myself on here ;)
Aaaand back on track, please.
So, yesterday- I made a sandwich.
Rephrase; I made the sandwich. One of my all-time favourites (apart from that PB & banana toastie) and this may well have been the best version I've ever made of it.
There were ALL the veggies, they were all fresh and vibrant and perfectly ripe, and piled to the max!

The order of awesome fillings went like this:
  1. Hommus
  2. Spinach
  3. Torn up veggie burger
  4. Char-grilled pumpkin slices
  5. Sliced tomato (biggest and juiciest tomato!!)
  6. The rest of the veggie burger
  7. The rest of the pumpkin
  8. Grilled mushrooms slices
  9. Grilled zucchini slices
  10.  Char-grilled capsicum
  11. And grilled eggplant slices
All topped off with another slice of home-made spelt bread spread with hommus and grilled in a sandwich press!

 Now let's take a minute to appreciate this epic-ness of a sanwich:
 Oh yes.
 Something else I've been super excited about, that tastes awesome and brings a smile to my face when I pop it in my mouth? (Phew that was a long sentence, my brain ran out of breath as I typed it!)
Nope, it wasn't the fried eggs, or the peas, or the steamed veg...
 It was these amazing guys that look worryingly like brains but taste so good!
ROASTED CHESTNUTS!!
 I picked up a big bag (like, BIG) when I was out grocery shopping last week and have been enjoying them all week- it was only yesterday that I managed to peel them all nicely for a good-ish picture! ;)

This dinner was quickly thrown together and scoffed before running out the door to go and wait on tables for 2 and a half hours (even though I wasn't even that hungry, I knew I had to eat something to keep that friendly waitress smile on my face ;))

 And lastly; this morning's breakfast:
 I was smiling pretty much the entire time I was drinking this smoothie for 2 main reasons:
  1. I had just run a fast 7km and was extremely hungry from the early dinner I had last night that was long gone from my stomach's memory of food!
  2. It tasted sooooo good!
Yes this is yet another one of an old favourite of mine and will probably remain a favourite of mine for years and years to come!
My thick chocolate green smoothie:
 This guy was slightly different as I needed a full-on breakfast smoothie, so into the blender went:
1 chopped, frozen banana
1/2 chopped frozen avocado
2 big handfuls spinach
3 scoops greek yoghurt
1 big scoop choc protein powder
a few big dashes of cinnamon
1 tabeslpoon crunchy peanut butter
1 handful rolled oats
1/2 cup almond milk

All whazzed up until smooth (and suuuuper thick!)
 Reason for the spoon above because when you get to the bottom of this smoothie, you can only get to all of it with a spoon.
 I can't get over how smooth, creamy and down-right tasty this smoothie is!
3 minutes later:
 Yup, I was hungry!
Enter spoon:

Well, I've babbled on for a lot longer than I intended! I guess I just have a lot of passion for the topics I write about (ie. FOOD!) :)

Your turn:
What would be in your ultimate grilled sandwich?
Have you ever tried chestnuts? Do you like them?
Do you have a pre-running/ workout snack if it's more of a speed/ shorter workout? I don't usually but sometimes I feel pretty faint at the end!

That's all from me today folks- have a fabulous Friday (almost weekend!) eat something amazing- go on do it! Tell someone you love them :) Bye!1 :D

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