Maple Nut Banana Muffin Pancakes

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As you can see, I really liked these pancakes. Hello, photogenic! Tyra Banks the secondth, in essence.

I like pancakes. They’re my arena. Some people can sprint like a gazelle with a horde of angry lions behind it, some people can swim like their middle name is Ariel, some people can science like Newton blessed them with an apple infused with the knowledge of Darwin and Einstein dropped on their head… the closest thing I have is pancakes. Give me a bowl, a whisk, and a frying pan and I will feel at home even though I may be in the middle of Antartica with a polar bear for company. But give me ingredients too, of course…fried air doesn’t quite cut it, somehow.

Anyhoo. Maple Nut Banana Muffin Pancakes. Say WOT? Combine breakfast with breakfast, and you get heaven. Bliss. Bananas. Is there rehab for hooligan breakfast obsessed teenage bloggers? Not that I’ll want to go, I’m perfectly happy with the way I am. Just curious.

I have resolved: It’s been a while, but I am finally ready to get BACK into BLOGGING. I have finagled Lia back into writing her columns after she took a break due to the school assignments being ploughed on top of her like white on rice–she’s spending her days now obsessively watching anime, that girl has no excuse. So expect her back on this space soon, whereas I am going to BAKE again, and post posts! I’m sorry my activity took a gradual decline down, down, down in a spiral of lacklustre posts and one-try recipes after the school year started to seep in. But now I am blessedly liberated from exams and I have a whole tab full of things to make and Word documents stuffed with ideas of recipes and flavor combinations, so I have no excuse either. It’s time to ensure that the rest of the year isn’t spent Pinterest-ing and Tumblr-ing and YouTube-ing my days away in a spineless, amorphous blob of lethargy and laziness on the couch. I will get things done! I will move my lazy tush! Of course all of this is easier said than done, but I’m kind of counting on the fact that if I throw out (quite rashly) this Holiday Resolution out here, I will be Obliged by the law and divinity of wordpress to stick to it. Poke me if I get to potato-y, won’t you?

Man, I can’t wait. Can you feel it in the air? That’s the sound of the pumpkin and gingerbread-y and spiced things and Christmas tsunami roaring in the distance. It’s coming. And it will rain down soon in a roaring crash of Ho-Ho-Ho and tinsel and pine leaves and cranberries and citrus and spice. And I can’t wait. Is it fall already where you are now? Here in Singapore we are stuck in perpetual Summer-Spring–either it’s blazing hot and so humid you can feel every sweating pore on your body, or it’s raining so hard it floods. And hails. And knocks down a wall. No joke. It’s nice that it does get considerably cooler when November comes close–some trees even turn AUTUMN SHADES, bless their bark–but it’s never going to snow here, or get chilly enough for long underwear. Oh well–at least hot chocolate is appropriate in rainy weather.

This October started badly–with a horrible, horrible case of CHICKEN POX that caused me to miss some exams, become a stressed and depressed and very spotty lump, and recover only to be faced with a beautiful week of exams after exams. That combined with other commitments has been a struggle to say the least, and I’ve wanted to give up many times. But thanks to friends–special shout out to a certain Watermelon Pal that has stuck with me throughout the school year and that has helped me so much through this time–and people who upload Coldplay and Bastille concerts onto YouTube in HD sound that make excellent no-click study soundtracks, I’ve made it. I finished my last exam today and man it has never felt better. I came home, made these pancakes,  it’s 6.50pm now and I don’t have to worry about an exam tomorrow/the last 5 sides of notes to memorise. Tis a beautiful, glorious feeling indeed. Hopefully, it’ll be the start to a great end of the year. Man, 2014 sure has whizzed by, hasn’t it?

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Okay, back to these pancakes. Have you ever wondered how bakeries do their muffins? I try at home but I never get that beautiful bell-shaped muffin top, swelled pompous and dewy rich above the fluted muffin cup, like a sort of weird and wonderful mushroom. I’ve tried baking soda, I’ve tried baking powder, I’ve tried baking powder and baking soda, I’ve tried butter VS oil, I’ve tried filing the cups 3/4 to all the way full…to not much avail. I’ll keep trying, though. Because I am stubborn, and also because it means more banana goodies bakery-style or not. Have you had a banana walnut muffin then? I think most people have, and it’s incredible–I’ve had some really good ones, with the mix of banana creamy sweetness and flaky chunks of robust walnut amidst soft, fluffy rich crumbs. It’s one of those classic flavor combinations that can’t go wrong, so when mixed into pancake batter it makes for an incredible explosion of happiness.

Man, was this great as a post-exam celebratory lunch. They came together in no time, fluffed up beautifully in voluminous rounds of golden, nutty brown pancake in the pan, and yielded a soft muffin-y crumb scented with subtle vanilla and the sweet spice of cinnamon, a lovely mahogany maple note, and creamy moist banana flavor, studded throughout with the glorious gritty-wholesome richness of toasted walnut in buttery chunks. I tell you, this is the Blue Ivy to the Jay-Z and Beyonce (banana walnut muffins and pancakes) of the breakfasting world. I tell you, I don’t believe I just used that analogy. I tell you, this is really great and you should make it ASAP.

Sometimes life throws you lemons and no matter how you try, you know you’re going to make a really shitty lemonade, but you still put in effort and that is what matters. It’s alright if your lemonade goes blue, or is too sweet, or is too sour, or looks like armadillo bile. As long as you tried, and tried your best, you can serve up that gross as lemonade with a huge grin on your face because you gave it your all and you never wanted to be a professional lemonade maker anyway. And at the end, you get these maple-nut banana muffin pancakes. This is the life lesson du jour for me…I hope you understood that analogy, or at least got your own interpretation of it.

Anyway, I’ll just give you the recipe now. And one more shot, in case you weren’t already convinced to try these.

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PANCAKES!

maple nut banana muffin pancakes

(vegan, possibly gluten free)

You will need:

-2 tbs flaxseeds, ground OR 2 tbs flaxseed meal (I find freshly ground flaxseeds are best)+6 tbs water

-a handful of walnuts, or as much as you like

-6 tbs wholewheat/buckwheat/spelt/all purpose flour

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1/8 tsp baking soda

-1/4 tsp cinnamon, or as much as you like

-1 large banana

-1 tbs maple syrup

-1/8 tsp vanilla bean paste/ 1/4 tsp vanilla essence

-140-150ml plant based milk

The night before, or at least 1/2 an hour before you make the pancakes, mix together the freshly ground flaxseeds or flaxseed meal and water in a small cup or bowl. Cover with clingwrap and let this sit for at least half an hour to create flax eggs.

After half an hour, or during, toast the walnuts in a dry pan over low heat, shaking it to allow them to toast evenly every now and then. Once you start to smell the fragrance of the walnuts, remove from the heat and let cool before putting into a ziplock bag and smashing with a rolling pin/mug into chunks of your desired size.

Mix together the wholewheat flour, coconut flour, baking powder and soda and cinnamon in a small bowl. In another bowl mash the banana and add the 2 flax eggs that you prepared earlier, maple syrup, vanilla and plant based milk (start with 140ml first). Whisk the wet ingredients till combined and add the dry ingredients plus the walnut chunks before whisking until just incorporated and without any pockets of flour–it’s okay if it’s lumpy! The batter should be thick at this stage, not runny–if you want thinner pancakes, adjust the amount of liquid to your preference.

Let the batter sit while heating a pan on low heat till a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact. Grease with oil and coat the entire surface before dropping 1/4 to 1/2 cup portions of the batter onto the pan. Let the pancakes cook until the edges start to dull and solidify before flipping and cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Once the underside is golden brown, transfer to a plate. Serve warm, with toppings of choice, and enjoy!

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World Mental Health Day, 2014

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copyright sofinewasthemorning 2014

Hello friends! It’s been a while, but I promise I’m coming back to life. Exams are being tackled, time is being let out on parole from the study jail, pumpkin season is coming, the weekend draws nigh, RIPE BANANAS ARE WAITING TO BE MADE INTO SOMETHING DELICIOUS but today’s post is a little something special. The only food you’re getting today is food for thought, sorry about that, but it’s great food for thought. So I sit here after a tiring math exam (that felt like it was a troop of sumos that marched into my skull with wooden spears and stiletto boots and started doing the can-can aggressively while poking the spears viciously in every orifice of my brain) with an important message to spread, so please-if you could be so kindly bothered-have a little read. And ignore my photography that is peppered throughout because I haVE NO IDEA WHAT TO PUNCTUATE MY BIG BLOCKS OF TEXT WITH.

Today is Friday the 10th of October, and that means it’s World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. It aims to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

In case you are new (in which case HELLO! Be ready for a lot of chocolate) or just know me as the girl who really, really likes peanut butter and often spams your feed with pancakes and moans frequently about math and life, I receive many messages on a daily basis for help regarding mental health, because I have an eating disorder. I’m actually not too sure whether to say “I have” or “I had”, to be honest. I no longer struggle as badly and do not consider myself to be considered by my eating disorder any more, but I don’t think I can consider myself to be fully recovered either, so For Diplomacy’s Sake I’m just going to stick with “In progress”. So while I may not be a Celebrity or an Organisation or a Very Influential and Popular Figure, I know many people follow me for my food, and a large amount of those include teenagers, especially females, who suffer from eating disorders. And as a person who has been in their position before, I feel like it’s only right that I speak out about the issue and share a little, especially in light of World Mental Health Day.

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copyright sofinewasthemorning 2014

I do admit, this is rather tough for me. Having been featured by Instagram earlier this year and published on sites such as Huffington Post, I’ve been facing a certain awkward sticky spot. Articles with titles like “15 year old Girl uses Instagram to Recover from Eating Disorder”. I felt like I was being known purely as “The girl who had an eating disorder”, and it was an uncomfortable umbrella to stand under, hat to wear, shoe to stomp around in. It was a sudden thrust into a spotlight cast in a rather uncomfortable shade, especially as someone who was trying to step out of her disordered past into something bigger and perchance brighter. I didn’t want to always be pinned down and tacked with a massive EATING DISORDER HERE in neon lights on my forehead, and so tended to keep quite mum about my past unless probed. When asked for interviews, majority of the questions would inevitably revolve around my disordered past, and it was something I started to run away from. I didn’t want to be stuck with this label forever! I don’t want to always talk about my recovery! I started to conspicuously avoid talking about it on the context that I was trying to leave it behind me, which was true. But recently I’ve been more and more aware, thinking more, looking at statistics, brooding. Stewing like, uh, like a stew. Brewing thoughts like tea. I don’t know. But I’ve come to a realisation.

While I don’t ever want to be forever pinned with such a category, or a label, or a title, or whatever you may call it–I need to accept that it’s okay. It’s okay to have had an eating disorder, it’s okay for people to come to me for help, it’s okay that people know. Because here it is–the big, black balloon that had caused so much late-night-worry and thinking about, that is hard to say but I’ll say it anyway. I’m ashamed. Ashamed that I’m ashamed for having an eating disorder. Ashamed that I had an eating disorder. Ashamed that I wasn’t as strong as I thought, and that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I could be. Ashamed that I caused my family so much pain and was a total noxious brat, isolated myself from my friends, lost 3 years of my life trying to die. Ashamed that I didn’t know I was dying. Ashamed that I was trying to die. I feel ashamed.

I feel like this bit from here helps to kind of explain what I was/am feeling:

“Of all the stigmatized conditions in current society, mental illness is near or at the top of the list, generating the kinds of stereotypes, fear, and rejection that are reminiscent of long-standing attitudes toward leprosy. Mental disorders threaten stability and order, and media coverage exacerbates this situation by uniformly equating mental illness with violence. As a result, stigma is rampant, spurring family silence, outright discrimination, a lack of parity for mental health care coverage, and social isolation. The pain of mental illness is searing enough, but the added layer of stigma affects personal well-being, economic productivity, and public health, fueling a vicious cycle of lowered expectations, deep shame, and hopelessness. “

Many people avoid seeking help for mental illness because they are afraid of the stigma that is attached as firmly as a bulldog with cemented jaws on a bone; the stigma of “Dude, you’re crazy.” “Dude, what were you thinking?” “Is this person nuts?” “Wow, that’s weird.” “Woaaah, you have a mental illness??”. The stigma that will bring about rejection, isolation, ostracisizing. Discrimination, judgement, misconceptions. These are incredibly daunting especially when you have your mental illness that inevitably will want you to reject help already–with all the heavy, daunting prospects and what-ifs, it’s no wonder people are afraid to step out. But what else is truly worrying are the recent mental health statistics.

About one quarter of the population will experience some form of mental health problem, within a year alone.  Depression affects 1 in 5 people. 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and about 10% at any one time. Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35. And eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness–50-70% who seek treatment will recover; 20% will improve with treatment but still struggle with the disorder, and 10-20% will die. And these are only some of the frightening ones out there regarding mental health.

What I’ve learnt is that I’m not going to be scared anymore. I still do not wish to be always known as “the girl from Instagram who had an eating disorder”, but I have come to accept that it’s an integral part of my past which has contributed to who I am today, and will continue to shape who I am in the future. I can’t run away from it; I don’t have to shout it from the rooftops, but I have to accept it. I know that I can do something to help those who are currently struggling, and while I will take care of my own mental health, I will help those who come to me for assistance. I will speak out about it, because this is an issue that I believe is highly pertinent and has the potential to be massively destructive if awareness is not spread, and because people need to know about it and also know that they’re not alone in suffering from mental illness. The illness I battled for 3 years was one I won’t wish on anyone, ever, and even though I lost that period of my life and won’t be able to get it back, I will now try my damn hardest to make sure it doesn’t extend the utter misery and darkness it brings on any further on anyone. If I can’t get back my time, I will try my hardest to make sure it doesn’t take any one else’s.

And I will forgive myself, because I can’t help anyone or do anything if I spend my life resenting who I was and what I did.

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copyright sofinewasthemorning 2014

So, more about mental illness. Mental illness tend to be the lesser-known and even lesser-recognised gamut of disorders; they are illnesses of the mind, which are deceptive and certainly not easy to diagnose, because they do not have physical manifestations. This is something many people have yet to but need to recognise: mental illnesses are not defined by physical manifestations. They are illnesses of a psychological plane, not physical. You may look fine, you might be able to run a mile in a second, you might take 5 hours to run a mile, but that has no weight in deciding if you have a mental illness or not. Sadly, mental health is often treated with flippancy and dismissal, which is dangerous as many of them will accelerate over time, and can be potentially life threatening without a full course of monitoring, medication, or help. A mental illness is just as important as any other illness–you’d be concerned if you had a heart disease, or kidney failure, or lung cancer. Why should an illness concerning another organ–your brain–be any less regarded?

And like previously mentioned, the stigma plays a huge part:  65%  of people believe that being treated for a mental health issue is a sign of personal failure, according to a survey by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services. Some 20% of people are unsure they would want to live next door to someone who previously had a mental health problem, and 15% are not sure if people with mental health issues should have children. But research tells us that people who experience mental health difficulties are no more likely than those who don’t to commit a serious crime and, indeed, some research suggests that they are less likely. Personal despair rarely transfers to violence against other people. This requires anger, premeditation and motivation; feelings not normally associated with mental health difficulties.

And, most importantly: seeking help for a mental health difficulty is not a sign of failure, but is, rather, a courageous step towards addressing issues that one has been struggling with, recognising that one needs help, and acknowledgement that this can no longer continue. Seeking help requires self-awareness, commitment, and courage, and is no easy feat. It’s not a sign that you have failed, unless you count failed at being miserable for a long, long while, which isn’t a failure so that doesn’t count. Clearly I am very eloquent. But you get the point.

So today, I want you to be aware. Ask those around you if they are okay; take the effort to give a hug, lend a listening ear, be a shoulder to cry on. Everyone is fighting their own battle, and it’s only right that we treat others the way we would want them to treat ourselves-with kindness, compassion and understanding. Be there for yourself, too: if you are experiencing trouble, if you aren’t okay, please don’t feel afraid. Don’t lose hope, don’t believe that you are at a point of no return. Know that no matter what, you are a glorious, glorious piece of the universe–how beautiful is it, that you can walk and talk and laugh, sing badly or sing well, jump and skip, and breathe? Isn’t it glorious how you can give joy through a hug, or create something with your hands that can touch and feel and shape? You are amazing. You are a miracle. You are fierce, dude. And you deserve happiness. You deserve to be free of mental illness, deserve to love and accept yourself for who you are, deserve to have every single joy in the world. And if you are so experiencing such an issue, know that you are not alone–there are people who care for you, love you, and are willing to help you. Be brave, be courageous, be hopeful.

In case you guys need some help, here are some useful links (just a few I found, feel free to comment more below or research!):

For UK:

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/getting-help/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

For Australia:

https://www.ruok.org.au/

http://www.headspace.org.au/

http://mentalhealth.org.au/

For Singapore:

http://www.samhealth.org.sg/

http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/article?id=348

And for this year’s World Mental Health Day, the focus is on schizophrenia. To read more about World Mental Health Day and schizophrenia, you can find them here and here and here.

Phew, that was a long one. Thanks for sticking through it if you did. In which case, hi. What is the difference between a nicely dressed man on a tricycle and a poorly dressed man on a bicycle? A tire.

Love to everyone. Stay safe, and stay well x

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Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies (gluten free, vegan)

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Hellooooo there.

Peanut butter and chocolate go so well together, in case you didn’t know. They’re such a cute couple. Look at them. I ship it.

In case you can’t already tell from the copious amounts of fullstops I have unwittingly used above and have only realised now that they sound really weird, I’m kind of brain fried. During school weeks, I live for pancake fridays and spent my time at home trying to do work, listening to emo songs, and writing angsty teenage prose. And during weekends, I just spend the whole day on the couch with my work piled on my lap, in the end only completing about 1/2 of it if I’m lucky in between generous amounts of, uh, procrastination. Yeah–not the most emotionally or psychologically healthy way to cope with stress, but I’m still learning, and I’m struggling through with the help of lots of lovely people. Friends, online or in real life, have helped a lot. Changing my mindset has also helped. Little things during school help, like finding the amount of work I have so unfunny that it’s really funny, which makes class tolerable. Do I sound like I’m whining? Oh dear, I hope I don’t. Because I’m not, really! I’m not! Okay, maybe I am, a bit.

But honestly–despite the 1000000 essays I’ve had to write, and I may only be slightly exaggerating, I’ve learnt how to grit my teeth and y’know, roll with the punches. I’m so grateful for all the friends and the little straws God has tossed to me to hang on to through this long and painful squeeze to the holidays. And now, even with lots of revision looming for the impending death doom I’m going to DIE help  end of year exams, I’m grateful for brownies. These brownies. Babies. So good, and come together in ONE food processor. How many food processor?? ONE! Only one to clean!

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I took so many pictures, that’s how photogenic and cooperative these brownies were. Photography isn’t easy, okay! I have so much to learn about Lighting and Frames and Cropping and Positioning and many other things I’m sure there is a legit name for but I am too much of a Photography Peasant to know in entirety. Have light streaming in? Too bad, the photo may just turn out with this horrid blue tint and your food looks disgusting! Arranged everything nicely and take nice shots? Too bad, the cropping means you have to sacrifice some really, really gorgeous creases in the bedspread/the end of your spoon/the full perimeter of your teacup! Do I sound deranged twattering on about this? Honestly though, appreciate the photo. So much work goes behind it, although it looks like I casually took a shot and ooh, magic! Pretty! Nah, I wish it was so. And to make things a little more complicated, not that they need it, my windows are purple tinted. So, unless I open them wide and full–which can be a problem when it rains–the photo looks like it’s in the shadow of Barney’s butt. But these brownies? Beautiful dark chocolaty goodness, with that vibrant golden rich swirl of peanut butter. Even the Barney Butt Tint can’t compete with that.

I think I might have just weirded everyone out. I hope you’re still here. Hi, I’m sorry for whining again about my windows. Please hang on for the recipe, and the visuals.

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These taste WHOLESOME–but in a good way. Not like “I am made of more or less wholewheat flour and water and I am dry as cardboard”/”I am thick and gummy and stick like glue in your throat because I have too much bananas to compensate for the lack of oil!” wholesome, but like you can taste that it is good for you, BUT it is still delicious. So delicious. Imagine rich, dark chocolate in a fudgy slab of dense, velvety crumb with the mellow sweetness and sugar of banana and the slight caramel golden ribbon of dates, along with the robust grit and nuttiness the oats lend, the lovely creamy salt of rich peanut butter, and a subtle floral hint of vanilla. And like that wasn’t enough, more peanut butter on top. It’s an amazing combination, and I love this best chilled. Overnight, the banana caramelly sweetness and chocolate flavor and the peanut butter deepen in depth and richen–the salt gives a new dimension to the sweetness, which develops a new, smoother lightness, and the chocolate becomes even richer and fudgier. It’s amazing. And this can be made gluten free as well, with gluten free oats–perfect for those of you out there who can’t take the gluten.

Unf. Brownies. So good.

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Make them, and devour them. Everything’s better with chocolate.

 

chocolate, banana and peanut butter swirl brownies (gluten free, vegan)

You will need:

-2 cups oats (gluten free if you wish)

-1/4 cup cocoa

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-3 tbs coconut sugar/raw cane sugar/normal sugar

-pinch salt

-3 super ripe bananas

-4 medjool dates

-1/2 cup crunchy/smooth natural peanut butter

-3 tbs coconut cream/soy yogurt

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (if you wish)

-2 tbs peanut butter

-1 tbs coconut oil

Line an 8 inch brownie tin with parchment. Blitz the oats, cocoa, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and coconut sugar together in a food processor till it has become a flour. Add the banana, dates, peanut butter, coconut cream/soy yogurt and vanilla and pulse till you get a thick batter. If you wish, you can add the chocolate chunks here and pulse briefly to incorporate. Scoop this into the brownie pan and even out with an offset spatula. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and gently melt the peanut butter and coconut oil over a low heat, till thick and melted. Drizzle this in blobs over the brownie batter and swirl in with a knife. Bake for about 30 minutes, checking at the 25 minute mark–a toothpick should emerge with moist crumbs clinging, but not with raw batter. Let it cool completely outside before refridgerating, preferably overnight. Cut into 9 squares and enjoy.

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Banana Caramel French Toast + Organic Burst Maca

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WHO THAT, WHO THAT? T O A S T

(I’m sorry. Please continue reading. I just had to.)

French toast for lunch? Eggcellent. Eggcept this is eggless, because 100% sweet French toast is more fun–I’ve always considered eggs to be savoury! If it’s mixed into a batter like cake or muffin that is fine, but things like custard and traditional french toast are dubious because it is so eggy. So, giving in to the whims and wills of the atrociously sweet tooth I have like I always do, I decided to go with the banana French toast that has been gaining traction in the foodie world lately. A custard made of banana, plant based milk, cinnamon, vanilla and–just because y’know, sweet–some Maca powder from the guys at Organic Burst for that caramel flavor.

Maca powder is also known as Peruvian Ginseng and has been used in Peru for endurance, energy and hormonal balance for over 2000 years. Apparently it was taken by Inca warriors before going into battle to increase their strength and stamina, like a magical superpower snack–is that not the coolest thing ever??  Like y’know, just casually adding some WARRIOR SUPERPOWER FOOD into my meal.  No biggie.

Organic Burst Maca powder blends four maca plant varieties, combining the benefits of each and making it particularly nutritious. It’s apparently known as an adaptogen–it helps maintain stamina and endurance (woah, SCIENCE) and it’s been scientifically shown to be a caffeine-free energiser, which is great because after adding a sprinkle of caramelly, sweet Maca to pancakes/oatmeal/this french toast I am literally bouncing with energy. Okay, perhaps not literally, because that would be rather freaky. But it kicks my famous couch potato lethargy to the curb in no time and I actually…get things…done! Wow!

The powder is certified organic too, which means no nasties–no harmful chemicals, pesticides or processing aids were used at any stage of farming or production, which is always great when it comes to things that will get down into your belly. And unff–the taste is simply amazing, which is so important. It has a golden, lightly malty sweetness with a certain rich maple flavor that gives it this roundness on your palate, and the slightest hint of cane sugar caramel. I use about 1 tsp when I have it for a breakfast/meal for myself, and more when it comes to bakes. Organic Burst is a simply lovely company that genuinely cares about it’s customers. They sent me this nice pack of beautiful powders and superfoods to play with–do check them out here, and keep your eyes peeled for more Maca creations and more creations of their products–plus a complete roundup post of everything they sent is coming up soon. In the meanwhile, you can lurk around on my instagram to see the different things I churn out of my kitchen using their incredibly versatile and super delicious Maca, Acai, Wheatgrass and Baobab. Plus it helps that the capsules they come in are SO PRETTY too. Aesthetic appeal. Just sayin’.

Okay! Back to the French toast.

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PLOT TWIST: I know some french!  Ooh, fancy. I actually used to be pretty good at it–I learnt it for 2 years through a Third Language program our Ministry of Education has founded, but after that math (grrr) became too much of an issue and I had to drop it. At least I have learnt enough to find a washroom if I ever find myself stranded in France, and order a baguette or a croissant. Not too bad #survivaltactics.

Is French toast actually french, though? This is one of the hallowed food questions I’ve always been wondering about since the dawn of time. The french way of making french toast (rich custard with cream, brioche)  is known as pain perdu, which means lost bread…which is slightly confusing unless they’re referring to the way people will instantly get lost in the pillowy depths of buttery custard-soaked brioche. But I did RESEARCH (when I should actually be doing research for SCHOOL things but let us not digress, heh heh) and the ‘lost’ in pain perdu could also mean ‘wasted’–which refers to the common use of stale bread for French toast, as it sops up the custard better than fresh. So it’s kind of an oxymoron, because it is not wasting bread that would have been wasted. Are you confused yet? Okay, I’ll wrap it up–French toast isn’t actually ~french~ in origin, though–the earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 4th or 5th century. The mentions soaking in milk, but not egg, and gives it no special name, just aliter dulcia–“another sweet dish”. Ouch, what a snub–just another face lost in the crowd of choux pastry and laminated croissant dough. But yes, that is it for today’s history lesson. I hope you feel enriched now with French toast trivia.

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So this recipe would be considered, I guess, one of the branches webbing from the original Apicius recipe of bread soaked in milk–this adds banana instead of egg. And oh, it is simply fantastic–the banana, although without the sort of quivering custardy bite that eggs give, lends a mellow creaminess and sweetness to the French toast, with the spice of cinnamon, subtle musky floral vanilla fragrance, and the malty caramel Maca. Together you get soft fluffy bread, dense with a creamy rich banana custard, speckled with a beautiful cinnamon brown. I topped it with chocolate tahini drizzle, crushed nuts, peanut butter and chocolate. And that fig is the first of a long, long wait–NOW I HAVE FIGS and by proxy the world. So sublime. I have missed biting into such lush, jammy and sweet figs.

Okay, that is enough blabber. Here is the recipe–hope you guys are doing well, wherever you are x

 

banana caramel french toast

You will need:

-2 slices/1 serving of bread, preferably stale

-1 large banana

-1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1/4 tsp vanilla

-1 tsp maca powder

-1/4 cup plant based milk

 

Mash the banana in a wide dish till as smooth as possible. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, maca and milk and whisk. Dip the slices of bread into the custard and preheat your pan on low heat till a drop of water hisses immediately and evaporates upon contact, flipping the bread halfway through. Grease the pan with coconut oil/neutral oil and fry for about 3-5 minutes on each side or till golden brown and speckled. Serve warm.

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A picnic

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Yeah, I wore that in public. Rainbow socks and watermelon shoes. I hope none of you are from the Fashion police ranks.

So this post, mostly visuals, is just about the picnic I went to on the weekend with ma girlies Sasha (@thesashadiaries on instagram, blog here) and Ruiyi (@bunnysquats on instagram). The sun was shining (this is an understatement. We got sunburnt/tanned within 1.5 hours. It shone like someone dumped a bunch of teeth whitening liquid/paste on the sun, strung it with megawatt headlights, and set a million fires with the fury of a million people who bit into a million grapes that said they were seedless, but had a blatantly humongous seed in the middle like I just did do you feel my pain) and zero creepy crawlies came to visit us on our little mat. A guy toddled somewhere near us, took off his shirt and sunbathed (a death wish) but other than that we were quite alone and peaceful.

We snacked on amazing paprika hummus and salsa with carrot and cucumber sticks and cherry tomatoes, broc-cauli tabbouleh, delicious spring rolls stuffed with brazil nuts and toasted seeds and soft sweet mango strips and curls of zucchini, peanutty golden brown tofu patties, raw cookie dough bites, and wholewheat double chocolate fudgy cookies, washing it all down with fruit-and-mint infused coconut water. We were proud of ourselves for being proper domestic goddesses and for having a thoroughly environmentally-friendly picnic–the only things we threw were the scraps on our plate and napkins, we bought our own cutlery and plates along! We had a good talk, a lot of laughs, and watched the people on the opposite side of the pond feed birds that grew as more of them saw the breadcrumbs thrown out. We bemoaned the Singapore humidity and found out that mandarin slices left under the scorching Singapore sun turned CRiSPY–dried out, crisp skin with juicy mandarin beneath. I had a great time with absolutely smashing girls, and would gladly do it all again.

 

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Oreo Ice Cream Cake (Vegan)

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Confession: the flag is not a flag. It is a post it cut to look like a flag wrapped around a skewer. The flag is a lie. #illuminati

Apparently someone shouldn’t stay up too late because it kills brain cells…oops. It’s 11pm now, but I promised cake, and judging from the clamoring on my Instagram post I better post it soon before an angry Oreo mob comes to batter my door down, and not the nice type of batter that are pancakes in fetus form. Anyway, on to the cake!

I’m having more and more fun making mini cakes like this. For one, it can be for one (for one-ception! do you see it?)(I should really get to sleep). For another, it somehow adds this cuteness–this sense of a small, cute little layered cake beaming at you from beneath the shy dribbles of chocolate. And also you can make super elaborate cakes but MINI and it somehow gains this beautiful novelty. I can’t wait to keep doing this–maybe it’ll be a weekly thing.

Alright, cookies and cream. Fess up. Have any of you actually actually really legitly ate Oreos the twist-lick-dunk way?? It is so troublesome, goodness gravy. And also I never really liked the cream inside–it reminded me of a sort of paste instead of a cream, the way you could almost peel it off. It was the chocolate cookie all the way–dark, buttery, addictively crunchy. And therefore I decided to make Oreo crunch crumbs for this cake and scatter it in the cookies and cream icecream filling and on top of the cake, so you get beautiful crunchy delight everywhere. You’re welcome. Move over, Tinker Bell–this is the real deal pixie dust right here. Crumbs of brittle, crunchy chocolate cookies with that addictive crisp and dark chocolate flavor? So much yes.

Obviously you can’t have a cake that’s all crunch, unless that’s what you’re looking for, so I settled for a chocolate cake base. And it is amazing–a beautifully even and tender crumb, rich and moist and yet wonderfully sturdy enough to bear the weight of the icecream on its soft crumb cushion. It’s not overwhelmingly dark, and I think I got the cake-icecream ratio just right.

So what do you get? The layer of tender, spongy soft and moist chocolate cake; then an icy rich wave of creamy, silky ice cream studded throughout with crunchy Oreo crunch. And then outside a layer of chocolate ganache that melts over it all. And then more crumbs, brittle and crackly. And then a raweo–an Oreo but raw and superbly fudgy, quick to make, chocolaty and stuffed with velvety cashew cream. Unf. The recipe is from the lovely Taline Gabriel on Instagram, and you can find it here. I made a special Mega Raweo and put it on top of the cake, because it deserves the podium position. Ayy macarena.

I should really get some sleep.

 

oreo ice cream cake

(makes 1 4-inch mini springform tin)

You will need:

For the chocolate cake

-5.5 tbs spelt flour (whole wheat/all purpose/buckwheat/oat should work)

-2.5 tbs cocoa

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-2 tbs raw cane sugar

-2 tbs coconut cream, whisked with 2 tbs plant based milk of choice

-1.5 tbs coconut oil/other neutral oil

-1/2 tsp vanilla

-1/2 a flax egg (1/2 tbs flax meal mixed with 1.5 tbs water)

-2 tbs maple syrup/other liquid sweetener

-3.5 tbs hot coffee

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line the base of the springform tin with parchment paper and grease the sides well, flouring too if possible. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another, whisk the flax egg, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and the coconut cream+milk mixture. Add the dry ingredients and whisk till just combined, and then add the hot coffee. The batter should be quite liquid. Pour this into the springform tin and bake for anywhere between 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. The cake is done when it comes out dry/with only a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the tin and letting it cool on a wire rack. If you wish, you can level off the domed top of the cake so you get even layers.

For the Oreo cookie crunch

-1 tbs flour

-1 tbs cocoa

-1/2 tsp cornstarch

-1/2 tbs maple syrup

-1/2 tbs coconut oil

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the wet. Crumble with your fingers till you get a clumpy, crumbly mixture. Tip this out onto a parchment lined baking tray and bake with the cake at 180 degrees Celsius for just about 5-10 minutes–watch closely, because it burns easily! Once firm and slightly crisp, remove from the oven and let cool.

For the cookies n cream icecream

-1/4 cup cashews, soaked

-1/2 a ripe banana

-1 tsp vanilla

-2 tbs coconut cream

-2 tbs plant based milk of choice, or a bit more

-1 tbs coconut oil

-1.5 tbs maple syrup/liquid sweetener of choice

Blend these till thick and creamy, adding a little milk more if it’s necessary. Stir in a few handfuls of the cooled Oreo cookie crunch, or as much as you wish–it’s your cake! Strap the chocolate cake back into the cleaned springform tin ring, and spread out the cookies n cream icecream on top in an even layer. Freeze for about an hour or till solid.

For the chocolate ganache

-You can either melt chocolate or just use one of the raw ganache recipes mentioned here.

Once the cake is fully solid, let it defrost for a bit and remove the ring of the springform. Carefully drizzle the ganache over the top so you get nice dribbles down the sides. Bring back to the freezer to set.

Once everything is set, decorate with the remaining Oreo crunch and a raweo for good measure. Serve, and devour!

 

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link love fridays: 3

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taken last year on holiday in New Zealand

Helloooo guys! After a very long while, link love fridays is back this week. Ah, it’s been a tough time on this side of the ship–lots of ship sinking, lots of bad days. Lots of times where I say things I don’t mean, lots of times where I feel my life spiralling out of control and blowing raspberries at me as it slips, slimy as yolk, between my fingers. Lots of times where just melting onto the floor sounded like a very very good idea. Lots of times where my mind fails to hold strong and I let the most INANE things ever just get to me. Lots of times where I snapped, sniped, grouched, sulked, and generally became an awful awful person to be around. I think you get the idea. But hey, I’m still here. Weary from the washing-machine tumbling I’ve took and tired and achy and alright–perhaps still a little grouchy–but still here. And I thank my lucky stars for that, every day.

What I’ve learnt this week is that happiness doesn’t revolve around me. Family is a blessing. Food is a blessing. Life is a blessing. Not that I didn’t know that already, but sometimes it’s all too easy to just forget how incredibly, incredibly fortunate we are. There are little things that make life great and that you can cling on to, to skate over the rough patches. Things like chocolate for breakfast. A nice cup of earl grey, with wonderful bergamot notes. BBC on the way to school. Mum’s cooking. A particularly soft line from a poem. Making someone laugh.  BUT it doesn’t have to be your own happiness that makes you happy, it could be someone else’s too (was that confusing?). I mean like making something nice for your friend and seeing her smile, or talking to someone amidst the throat throttling speed of school days and having a nice bit of conversation, however brief. I’ve learnt this week that sometimes by making others happy, you give yourself joy too. Caring for others, doing something a little nice, taking that little extra effort to give. You don’t reap the immediate benefits, but it’s incredibly rewarding. You don’t need anything in return–kindness is it’s own reward. And that has helped me draw myself out of the woe-is-me!-my-life-sucks little pity spiral that all the bad things have been sucking me into. A little wake up call, to stop the self pity.

So that’s my two cents to add at the end of this week! Here are some awesome links I’ve found over the week:

 

music–

this brother and sister group from New Zealand. Man, I miss New Zealand. Beautiful song from an incredibly young and talented youtube star. And I can’t get over this Coldplay track, and probably won’t anytime soon.

 

lifestyle–

These beautiful vacation rental places. When I go on vacation, a very key point in our pre-research is accomodation; it’s like your temporary new home for a while and that somehow makes it all the more magical. We tend to book self serviced apartments instead of hotels as it’s easier and more economical–all of these look simply AMAZING and I want to travel right now. Male maternity photos? Reddit user DruishPrincess69) posted these photos with the simple explanation: “My wife didn’t want to take maternity pictures, so I hired a photographer and took her place…” Oh, and these guys make chocolate–but have never tasted it, until now. Their reactions are simply amazing.

 

food–

My friend Juliet (@julietisamommy on Instagram) has made a beautiful youtube channel and her first video (OATMEAL PANCAKES) is already so incredibly professional and amazing–do give it a look! Also: Sundae, in a CAN. Goodness. By the one and only Dominique Ansel. Peaches packaged in undies provoke quite an uproar. Ooh, lace. And my pal Izy hits 3 years on her blog–and celebrates with a beautiful chocolate cherry meringue stack!

 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

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