Tuesday, 30 October 2012

WIAW - last day of uni

Hey guys,

Firstly, I just wanted to say a quick Happy Halloween for those who are celebrating it! I'm not as it's not a big thing over here.

Secondly, I wanted to send my sincerest wishes to everyone affected by Sandy in the US and particularly the Carribean. I hope the process of rebuilding does not take too long or is too awful.

Thirdly, I wanted to quickly say that I am doing NaNoWriMo this November and was wondering if anyone else out there was and if they wanted to talk or chat about what they're writing? I'd love some company doing this crazy task!

Fourthly, the ever lovely Leanne and Eat and Get Moving nominated for a sunshine award! I already responded to it last week but wanted to say a big thank you for the lovely surprise.

Fifthly, I wanted to post this vlog. I know I could save this for another day but I did it a few minutes ago and wanted to share it because it came out ok. I totally stole this idea from Madison at Eating 4 Balance. It's an accent vlog, so readers can see how you sound.

I know, I'm a total dork and sound like a crazy person on the vlog. For everyone who knows me in real life, please forgive me.

So here is what you do for the accent vlog:

Here is a list of words you should pronounce:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And the list of questions you should answer:
1. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
2. What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
3. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
4. What do you call gym shoes?
5. What do you say to address a group of people?
6. What do you call the kind of spider (or spider-like creature) that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
7. What do you call your grandparents?
8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
9. What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
10. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
*Note: Make sure to include where you are from home as well.

On your vlog just say the words and answer the questions. It's that simple.

Here is mine:

Again, I apologise for my voice. And the awkward screencap of me before the video starts. The video itself is actually of better quality, I swear. Let me know what you think!

And finally, onto What I Ate Wednesday. A huge thanks goes to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for continuing to host this.

These were my eats from last Friday, which was my last official day at uni for the year. I had an extremely early breakfast because I wanted to get started early.

Breakfast - baked apple with oatmeal stuffing.

After breakfast I did a final edit of my assignments, went food shopping with Marnie, and then went all the way into uni to literally walk up six flights of stairs, drop off my assignment, walk back down the stairs and hop onto a bus to go back home. Then around 10:00-10:30 I had a small snack/lunch, because I was thinking I was going to go to the gym afterwards.

Snack/Lunch 1: Unpictured rye cruskits with smoked salmon, cream cheese and tomato. Followed by unpictured popcorn - lots of it!

The cruskits weren't really that great and I wasn't happy with them, so I ate loads of popcorn. Then, I lay around and caught up on some tv. I was planning on going to the gym around 12:00-12:30 but I was starving so I ate. I figured I could go later.

Snack/Lunch 2: Brown rice with cheese, leftover baked sweet potato and pumpkin. Had with a banana smoothie - banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, splash of almond milk and Chobani plain yoghurt.

I was going to have the smoothie after going to the gym but I decided I could take a day off from exercise. It was supposed to be lower body day, which means I've missed it this week, but oh well. I haven't had a day off in a while. And I ended up cleaning the apartment so I did some incidental exercise. It totally counts.

Dinner: Grilled chicken with tropical salad and mashed sweet potato. This was just amazing. I will be making this again. So simple, so easy and so quick! And it was beloved by all. I've never seen Marnie eat dinner so fast!

Dessert/snack throughout the day: Sweet and sour slice. I made this last week and demolished it, so I made some more. I'm already half way through! But damn, this stuff is good. Made with cashews, almonds, kiwi fruit, lime, dates and unsweetend coconut.

So as you can see, it was an exceptionally lazy and boring day.

Let me know if you guys to a vlog - link me to it!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Non-traditional Oatmeal Cookies

Another Monday.

I actually had a fantastic weekend so this Monday was especially hard. I shouldn't complain, I've officially finished uni for the year and am now on my final lot of summer holidays before I graduate. My Mum came down this weekend to see Matchbox 20 and INXS (her two favourite bands) play in Brisbane and I went with her. It was actually a really great night and I had tons of fun with my Mum. I actually don't mind Matchbox 20 so it was great to see them live. I now have bruises on the back of my calves from where I kept hitting my seat when I was dancing.

Here is the remainder of the A-Z quiz I started the other day:

K is for kids:
Hahahaha, I'm 19. And without a boyfriend. So, no, no current plans.
L is for current location:
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. My favourite Australian city. I love it here. 
M is for the most recent way you spent money:
I bought Chobani, kiwi fruit and cashews today. Random.
N is for something you need:
Money would be nice. If someone wanted to pay for my groceries I'd sure appreciate it.
O is for occupation:
Full time student. Only for another year though.
P is for pet peeve:
Oh, I have a lot. I hate it when people take up sidewalks! When entire groups of people block paths and no one can get past. My family does it all the time and I pretty much cry when they do. I really, really hate it. I can't even explain it.
Q is for a quote:
I have two favourite ones: "Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not yet the end" and "Some people dance in the rain, other's just get wet".
R is for random fact about you:
I love board games. I am absolutely terrible at luck games, so I would rather be force-fed peas then forced to play Monopoly, but card games and most other games I like. I never win. The only game I ever win is Cluedo. And the Harry Potter version of it. I haven't been beaten in ages. Of course now that I have said this I will lose.
S is for favorite healthy snack:
Uhhhh, this is hard. I have two favourite snacks - popcorn and some kind of carb with peanut butter, honey and banana.
T is for favorite treat:
Hmmmm...probably anything with chocolate in it. 
U is for something that makes you unique:
Oh God, I don't know. I asked Marnie and she said my imagination. I'll take that (best compliment ever, thanks Marnie!)
V is for favorite vegetable:
Oh, potato. Definitely. So easy.
W is for today’s workout:
HIIT run on the treadmill, followed by around 8km on the bike (level 8) - legs were sufficiently dead.
X is for X-rays you’ve had: 
Several for my teeth (had braces), and a couple of ultrasounds.
Y is for yesterday’s highlight:
Having breakfast with one of my best friends, Sophie, who is just darling and sweet and I miss her terribly now that we don't have any classes together anymore. It was great to see her and I had tons of fun.
Z is for your time zone:
Australian Eastern Standard Time. One of the first people to celebrate the new year!

And now that that is done, onto the food for today!

These cookies may not be your typical oatmeal cookies, but they sure as hell taste just as great.

There is the usual cross of softness and dough that you find in an oatmeal cookie, with the slightest hint of banana and an overload of chocolate. You can't taste the peanut butter at all really, so add more if you want to. I just like to use melted peanut butter instead of more fatty oils. The dark chocolate bits are perfectly melty when the cookies are eaten warm and when eaten cold provide the perfect contrast the soft dough. 

These cookies do not spread a lot, so remember to flatten them if you prefer large, round biscuits. However they will take less time to cook then. Now, if you like fluffy, smaller cookies, just do what I said in the instructions. Also note that the dough before being baked is very thick and fluffy, and not very wet. But don't worry - the cookies are amazing!

Level of Difficulty: As easy as any other cookie
Average Cost: All ingredients you probably have already, so cheap!
Main Ingredients: banana, oatmeal, whole wheat flour
Occasion: Snack
Menu Options: You can do anything with these cookies – you can change up the amount and type of chocolate used, you can put in smarties or M&M’s, or toffee bits, or peanut butter bits. You can add more or less banana depending on how much you want to taste the banana – same with the peanut butter.

Makes 20 small-medium sized cookies

What you need:
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
2 large / 3 small bananas, mashed
2 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter, melted
1 cup oats
¾ cup dark (bittersweet) chocolate chips

What to do:
In a medium bowl, combine the first three ingredients (the dry ingredients). Stir well with a wooden spoon.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the wet ingredients together until a thick batter has formed.

Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing with the mixer as you go. Be careful not to overmix. The batter will be very thick, but that is ok.

Then, using a wooden spoon, add in the oats until they are covered in the batter.

Add in the dark chocolate chips and stir until they are well mixed in.

Cover the bowl the dough is in with plastic wrap and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

Remove the dough and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Using a table spoon or cookie scoop place rounds of the dough on a baking tray (preferably one lined with baking paper). Using the back of a spoon press down the dough gently so it spreads.

Bake the cookies until the edges are starting to brown. This takes between 10 and 15 minutes. The cookies may seem a little soft when you take them out but they will harden up. You don’t want to leave the cookies in the oven until they are hard because otherwise they will be tough to chew. Also note that these cookies don’t spread too far out so if you want big cookies, flatten them a lot (but they will take longer in the oven).

Allow to cool slightly before serving.  

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Pork Chops with Apple and Mushrooms

I'm going to do this super quick (not really) survey I saw over at Alex's blog yesterday. Then I promise I'll get into the good stuff. I'm just doing A-J this time, as this post is already too long!

A is for age: 
19. Ok, so not technically 19 for two more weeks. But almost!
B is for breakfast today:
Bircher muesli, topped with leftover apple and strawberry. Was amazing.
C is for currently craving: 
Chocolate. Definitely.
D is for dinner tonight:
I had a really simple, easy dinner. Brown rice with salmon, sweet potato, pumpkin, mushrooms, spinach and cheese. Was so amazing.
E is for favorite type of exercise: 
I think we all know this answer - tennis.
F is for an irrational fear:
Birds. I'm not even joking - I am truly terrified of them. You can't run away from them. What if they catch you? You can't outrun something that can fly.
G is for gross food: 
Green vegetables. I hate them. I pretty much have to force myself to eat them. I can eat zucchini if cooked, spinach and asparagus. Everything else is a struggle. I used to tell people I was allergic to them.
H is for hometown: !
I'm from a very small town so it would be easy to stalk me if I put the name up. Sooo, I'll say I'm from the Tablelands in Far North Queensland. It's pretty much the name for several towns in my area. It's a great area.
I is for something important:
My family. I miss them terribly, but get to see my Mum tomorrow (for a day) and then I'm home in two weeks!
J is for current favorite jam: 
Apricot. I live for that stuff! Buuutttt, when I'm sick, strawberry jam and cheese on toast with tea is the way to go.
(will be continued...)

I wasn't going to post this recipe for a while, but as it is a great Autumn/Fall dish and most of you guys live overseas, I figured I'd post it now. So this for Jessie, who asked for it the other day (hi Jessie!).

This is the perfect Autumn/Fall dish. Pork is such a great, soft meat, so if you don't like red meat it's a great substitute. I also love the combination of tart apples and tangy mushrooms. The spinach adds a great, healthy kick to the dish. If you serve this with sweet potato, the dish tastes like Autumn.

Be sure to cook the pork well, so it is soft and easy to cut. The mushroom and apple mix will be very soft and you want a soft meat to match it. You can use any apples you chose, or any mushrooms you chose. I used gala apples, because that is what we have and I am on a serious gala apple kick at the moment. But tarty green apples would also be amazing for this dish.

I am having real difficulties describing this dish to you all. I think it's best to say, just go and make it and see how amazing it is for yourselves. It is definitely something worth making!

Level of Difficulty: This is such an easy dinner. It does take a bit of time, and there is a bit of cutting and slicing to do, but nothing too complex. An easy weeknight dinner.
Average Cost: Pretty cheap in the Autumn; apples and mushrooms are in season.
Main Ingredients: Apples, pork chops, mushrooms and spinach.
Occasion: Definitely a weeknight dinner meal.
Menu Options: You could probably replace the apple with pear, though I haven’t tried. You could add more spices and herbs if you please, or more sugar to the apple mix. I find however that the apple mix is sweet enough as is.
Adapted from: Fannetastic Food. I saw the idea for this on Anne’s blog, which was actually a McCormick dinner. We don’t have those here, but I wanted to do a similar dinner. I kind of looked at the recipe on Anne’s blog and then made changes to healthify it.

Serves 4

What you need:
4 pork chops
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1.2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
2-3 apples, sliced thinly
1 ½ cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup spinach, chopped

What to do:
In a small bowl, combine the flour, oregano, basil and paprika. Mix well.

Over medium heat, heat the olive oil and the crushed garlic cloves in a large frypan.

While the garlic is heating up, spread 1 teaspoon of the flour mix on each side of the four pork chops. Therefore you should have enough mixture for 8 teaspoons – 1 per side of a pork chop. Reserve any leftover flour mixture.

When the garlic is golden, add the pork chops to the frypan and brown both sides of the chops.

Remove the chops from the pan. Add more oil if necessary and add the onion to the pan. Cook the onion until tender, usually takes around 3 minutes.

When the onion is tender, add the apple and cook for around five minutes. The apple and onion mixture should be very soft by this time.

Return the pork to the pan. This time add the mushrooms and the reserved flour mix. Cook for at least 10 more minutes, until the pork is cooked through. Check this by cutting the pork, making sure the meat is very white and soft to cut.

Once cooked, add the spinach to the pan and stir into the mixture so it is soft and warm.

Serve the chops and apple mixture immediately, while warm, with mashed sweet potato (the sweet potato makes this the perfect Fall weeknight dish). The pictures are of roasted sweet potato because I forgot I wanted mashed potato.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

WIAW - So much fruit

My fruit consumption was crazy today. I had a small mango, two bananas, some pineapple, apple and kiwi fruit. What can I say, it was 35 degrees. In October. In Brisbane.

And as it is Wednsesday, it is time for WIAW. As usual, a huge thanks goes to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting.

 So I woke up around five and managed to wait until six to eat. For breakfast I hasd birhcer muesli, topped with cinnamon and banana. I actually couldn't eat it all, there was so much muesli!

I headed to the gym for a crazy long session. I had time to kill. I was exhausted when I came home so I pretty much inhaled lunch as soon I took a picture. I had half of this salmon and this tomato pasta. Recipe will be coming soon. 

After I cleaned the apartment, which took a surprisingly long time, I had this green mango pineapple smoothie (made with spinach, mango, pineapple, banana and unsweetend almond milk) and fruit leftover from making the smoothie.

Then, because I was unsurprisingly exhausted after four plus hours of physical activity (which if you know me, is an awful lot) I fell asleep for a bit. Then I made this amazing pork and apple dinner which we all loved. Recipe soon.

For dessert, I had this sweet and sour slice I made the other day. It's made of kiwi fruit, cashews, almonds, lime and coconut. No picture sorry, but it's great.

Yoghurt is the only unnaturally sweetened thing I ate today. I was pretty happy with how I ate today, and given how hot it was, I am not too surprised at the insane amount of fruit I consumed. I try not too eat too much fruit but just couldn't resist today.

As for the rest of the whole sugar detox, it's been good. I don't eat a lot of sugar anyway but this was just a way to remind myself to eat less if possible. I definitely broke it today. I went out to breakfast with one of my best friends and had ricotta hotcakes with yoghurt, berry coulis and fresh fruit. Needless to say, it was amazing. I'm still going to try to eat less sugar obviously, this whole thing was mostly just a way to kick the dessert habit I'd gotten myself in to. And I think it worked! Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dates

Today's post is going to be super quick, not that I'm busy, I'm just lazy. So I'm just popping to say hi, provide you with one of the easiest and most delicious treats ever and then disappear again.

The other day the super lovely Madison of Eating for Balance nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. If you've never stopped by Madison's blog, I would recommend it. Not only does she have the best taste in movies and tv shows (I say this because we are scarily alike) but she has an amazing collection of vegan, gluten free and sugar free recipes. Yeah, that's right. I would recommend the Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Vegan Banana Bread and the Microwave Brownies :)

So onto the award:

Here are the rules… 
  • If you are nominated you must include the link in a blog, linking to the person/blog that nominated you.
  • You must answer some questions and nominate 7 fellow bloggers and link their blogs in your post.
  • Let the people you have nominated know that you have nominated them!
1. Who is your favorite philosopher? 
I decided to go with Plato, because he said 'love is a serious mental illness', and I cannot help but laugh at that. And agree with him wholeheartedly.

2. What is your favorite number?
14 - my birthday. My brother, one cousin and one grandmother are also born on the 14th.

3. What is your favorite animal?
Snow leopards. Or any kind of leopard. Or maybe a cheetah. For a person who doesn't like cats, I really like big cats.

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter?
Facebook - It's my 'official', not personal, one: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebecca-Gillies/178085738973379
Twitter - Come follow me, I love Twitter - https://twitter.com/RebeccaGillies

5. What is your favorite time of day? 
 The morning. I wake up early and refreshed and get tons done in the morning. As the day drags on I get lethargic and tired and hate everyone and everything. My roommates can attest to this.

6. What was your favorite vacation? 
 Probably when we went to Italy. It was great fun. Venice was the most breaktaking city. But I am looking forward to going to America at the end of this year.

7. What is your favorite physical activity?
I think we all know the answer is tennis. But a close second is swimming, and then netball. But I miss playing tennis so much - I can't wait till I go home in a few weeks and have access to a court and people to play with.

8. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink? 
Well, I pretty much only drink water, and even then, not exactly a lot of it. However, if I had to chose, it would be pineapple juice.

9. What is your favorite flower? 
Tulips. I love how colourful they are! They're just absolutely gorgeous. *roommates, hint hint*

10. What is your passion?
Writing. I have honestly no idea what I would do if I didn't or couldn't write. I'm not good at much else. I suppose this links to my love of reading and most entertainment industries. I just love stories. I live for them; books, video games, comics, tv shows, movies - all of it.

Now I can't chose seven bloggers to nominate, I have so many new found blogs I love. So instead I want you all to answer a question or two - let me know if we have anything or nothing in common!

And now onto the food, the real reason you are here.

These dates are damn delicious. They are the perfect afternoon snack. I mean, chocolate and peanut butter go together perfectly anyway, but when combined with a tinge of coconut oil and a sweet, chewy date, and you have an amazing meal. Best of all, these guys are so healthy. The chocolate is made from raw cacao and coconut oil, both of which have great health benefits, and when combined with peanut butter (or your choice of nut butter), a healthy oil, these snacks are an incredible healthy pick-me-up.

Level of Difficulty: Possibly the easiest snack you will ever have to make
Average Cost: Depends on the cost of dates – for me, pretty cheap
Main Ingredients: dates
Occasion: Snack, or a super cute dessert

Makes 4 dates. Nutritional stats per date.

What you need:
4 dates
2 tsp peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tbsp raw honey

What to do:
Spray a baking tray with oil and line it with baking paper. Then, to be doubly sure, spray the paper with oil.

Using a sharp knife, split open one side of a date and pull out the seed. Fill the hole in the date with ½ tsp of peanut butter. Repeat for the remaining three dates so all of the peanut butter is used up and the dates are filled.

In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the coconut oil. Once it has melted properly, add the cacao powder and honey and stir until a thin chocolate mixture has formed. If it is too bitter for your taste, add more honey.

Then, cover the dates with the chocolate by dipping them in the mixture or by using a spoon to cover the dates with chocolate.

Place the dates on the tray with the baking paper and freeze. Eat the dates straight from the freezer.