#SKIN BlendCo Bonanza: 3 Recipes

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Alright, so here’s the deal. If you haven’t heard of BlendCo, sit down and take a scroll/stroll down the screen. If you have heard of BlendCo, do the same anyway because there are THREE RECIPES on this whopper here and they are awfully yummy and defo worth a make. Plus they were really fun to think up.

Basically, an ocean away (very sadly), somewhere in Melbourne, Australia under the blazing sun there is a little white truck, or van. The little white mobile juice van (I’m obviously such a vehicle connoisseur) has a long strip of black around it saying BLENDCO. SMOOTHIES. JUICES. SUPERFOODS. WE BLEND. Yeah, IT DOES. And also some cute lil fruit and veg illustrations to boot. From beneath the awning of the truck you’ll probably see some matching very friendly and cute faces and an abundance of fresh fruit, veg, and the latest blending machinery. And if you’re lucky enough to actually BE THERE, you’ll probably walk away with a gorgeous smoothie or a cup topped with superfood sprinkles and banana coins and maybe a bliss ball or two, but most definitely a giant loony grin of foodie infatuation on your face and a very happy stomach.

That is BlendCo–they call themselves blenders by definition and alchemists by trade, and I’m quoting from their about page here. They’ve got a cool funky vibe and are primarily made up of the ongoing drivers, aka the very friendly and cute faces you will see in the van–the Blend Boys Charlie, James and Morgan. Besides rolling around Melbourne and Australia’s biggest music festivals blending away and making legions of stomachs happy, they also have the superfood skin blend. It also comes in a funky fresh packaging, and is made of 7 organic superfoods with the aim of supporting healthier skin. They believe in a healthy, nourished lifestyle full of fresh ingredients that are good for you inside out–and advocate this view from the nutrition aspect, which is where their amazing juices and skin blend come in.

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Yeah, that blend. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll probably see photo after photo with BlendCo tagged and with their signature golden-green-red party confetti of goodness lashed liberally across whatever I’m eating at the mo. Be it pancakes, a raw cake or oatmeal, the skin blend not only adds a funky pop of color to the dish–it’s also very darn tasty. I’m very lucky to have them sponsoring me and sending packs of this goodness my way for review every now and then–I have quite a lovely BlendCo supply right now and I’m beyond grateful. These bunch of guys are very passionate, whip-smart and witty, incredibly kind and thoughtful and I couldn’t ask for a better company to help promote–I wholeheartedly support BlendCo with every chocolate-loving cell in my body, and this is my unprejudiced personal opinion. So hopefully after reading this you’ll a) Take a look at BlendCo and hopefully love them as much as I do b) Get some skin blend in yo life c) Take a hack at one of the three recipes to come because man, are they delicious.

Alright, let’s get down to the nitty gritty–every last flake of coconut and shred of pumpkin seed. What exactly is this mysterious party confetti skin blend made of? As mentioned previously, there are 7 superfood ingredients–and in creating the formula for this blend, BlendCo applied the power of synergy – different ingredients in the right ratio’s leading to a blend that is far more healing than the ingredients taken separately. So it is, in essence, a power punch of radiant goodness, tailored carefully to ensure that you receive all the greatness of these superfoods in optimum amounts.

The ingredient list is simple: coconut, activated pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, organic raspberry, acai, himalayan salt and goji berries. It’s gluten free, dairy free, nut free and vegan so if any of you have allergies related or have diets that omit such food groups have no fear–you can still enjoy the taste and benefits of this delicious fairy dust, no problem. The BlendCo dudes have put together these ingredients with the highest concentrated percentage of antioxidants, minerals and the right sorts of fats which work to fight the free radicals doing damage to our skin, and it’s rich in iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese to boot. And the goodness doesn’t stop there–it’s very much anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-microbial too.

If you break down each ingredient, it’s already easy to see the benefits–coconut is known to be bursting with healthy fats, and these have been proven to effectively tackle acne and age spots and other facial blemishes as well as rejuvenate skin, which is why you see a lot of coconutty facial products out there. Pumpkin seeds also help to improve your skin tone, and goji berries are another sucker punch that stimulates the production of collagen in your skin, therefore helping it retain moisture and promoting anti-aging. We tend to use goji berries a lot in Chinese cuisine, and they’re often paired in herbal soups with other ingredients that are collagen rich for health benefits–so the BlendCo guys definitely know what’s up. Cacao nibs, besides being beyond delicious, also improve skin texture and hydration; and acai, the lovely super berry (a-sai-ee, not ah-kai)(on that note, it’s keen-wa not qui-no-ah for quinoa. just sayin’) helps combat against skin diseases. Fun fact: Brazilians have been eating acai berries for centuries to treat skin conditions. These together are a happy bunch that are supposed to support a healthier and happier skin.

But does it really work? The BlendCo people advise a two-week eating plan that is vegan, gluten free, alcohol and processed sugar free along with daily doses of 1-2 tablespoons of the skin blend to see a positive change in skin, more energy, a brighter complexion and a reduced appearance of dark circles. I certainly don’t drink alcohol, but I’m not vegan, nor am I gluten free, and it’s currently a not very feasible diet plan for me even if it’s two weeks so I was unable to test out this theory in full, but I can definitely attest that it does give me more energy for the day. A healthy smatter of skin blend, I’ve found, does make me feel more energized after my breakfast as compared to skin blend-free breakfasts of the same kind, and–all health benefits and magnesium and iron and whatever aside–it is very tasty. You first get the tropical, rich fragrance of coconut on your tongue in chewy shreds; then you get a hint of the salt, alongside with the sweetness of the soft chunks of goji berry which work the same way that makes salted caramel so delicious; then you get some tart fruity tang from the raspberries and the wholesome, deep nutty crunch of the pumpkin seeds. It’s a blend packed full of tangy, coconutty, salted-sweet goodness with a lovely texture as well–the skin blend can form into clusters occasionally so it becomes a kind of soft granola, and the crisp coconut and the crunchy pumpkin seeds along with the gooey softness of goji berries means that it isn’t just jaw-tiring crunch all the way or flaccid softness all the time.

So, besides taking a peep at my Instagram to see how I use BlendCo, I’ve decided to make a BlendCo Bonanza of three recipes that use this scrummy blend so you have ideas on how to use it, and also see how versatile it is! First up: we have the BlendCo Blizzard.

image1A nice pink frosty glass of thick, slurpworthy and refreshing smoothie pleasure–this beauty uses frozen berries for a pop of tart sweetness and berry flavor, acai for the antioxidants in acai oil that give your skin a lovely glow, bananas for that luscious creamy richness and ice cream smooth texture, and peach–which contains Vitamin A and C, making them a great natural moisturiser, and apparently according to Google helps maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin…I’m not too sure if anyone is looking to boost their mucus membranes, but this was definitely a delicious glass of fruity, creamy smoothie goodness, and topped with the BlendCo skin blend it definitely will help give your skin the nourishment it needs for the day. Plus, it takes about 5 minutes to whizz up in your blender–et voila, you have a lovely pink punch of skin goodness that will nourish you from the inside out!

blendco blizzard

You will need:

-1 large banana (freeze these in coins if you want extra thickness to the smoothie)

-1/2 cup frozen berries of choice

-2 capsules acai (I used Organicburst acai)

-1 small ripe white peach/yellow peach, sliced

-1/4 cup greek yogurt

-a splash of juice/water

-1 tbsp BlendCo Skin blend+more to top

Blitz these ingredients up in your blender, adding as much liquid as you wish to reach your desired consistency. Pour into a glass, top with more skin blend and serve up!

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Next up is the BlendCo Bliss Balls–if you need a power snack to fuel you through the day, these babies have you covered. Rolled in skin blend, these taste like a nutty, caramelly cookie dough–you get chunks of almonds, a hit of fresh sunny citrus, the rich sweetness of medjool dates and the lovely texture of the skin blend. They’re sweet enough to boost your sugar levels and energy and kill those sugar cravings, ridiculously easy and quick to make (plus very much cheaper than energy bars), can fit into your bag for emergency snacks be it on the go or after exercise or when you’re feeling peckish, and have a whole host of nutrients that will make your cells happy. In short: pure goodness that will get you rolling with the punches.

 

blendco bliss balls

You will need:

-1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

-1/4 cup dessicated coconut

-1/2 cup almonds

-a shake of cinnamon

-zest and juice of half an orange

-1/2 cup medjool dates

-2 tbsp BlendCo skin blend+about 1/4 cup to coat

Blitz the pumpkin seeds and almonds in your food processor till gritty but not too fine–just break them down into manageable chunks. Add in your coconut, skin blend, cinnamon, dates, and orange juice plus zest and blend until a soft, slightly tacky ball forms–add in a little more juice if needed for it to come together. Roll into balls of your choice of size and then roll them into the skin blend to coat, pressing a little for the larger chunks to stick. Refrigerate till needed.

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And last but DEFINITELY not least…these bebes are the BlendCo Bombs. And yes, they are the bomb. Dot com. Little raw cakes in which I have snuck the different components of the skin blend into, so it’s like deconstructed BlendCo in cake form! The base is a thick layer of cacao nib goji fudge brownie–chewy, fudgy, chocolaty brownie studded with crunchy cacao nibs that utilises 3 skin blend ingredients: pumpkin seeds, goji berries and cacao nibs. Next up you have a salted caramel layer–date caramel with himalayan salt, which is the skin blend ingredient in this jazz. And on the top, a thick wodge of raspberry-coconut cheezecake–luscious creamy cashew cheezecake flavored with the tart berry burst of raspberries and the tropical rich toasty flavor of coconut, and this layer is also a minefield of dark chocolate buckini bark chunks–essentially crunch bombs of luscious dark chocolate and shatteringly crispy toasted buckwheat. To top it off, I drizzled these bubs in tahini and skin blend–so good. These are absolutely divine, so tasty, and absolutely decadent. When you bite in you get the extremely chocolaty and fudgy soft, almost melty brownie layer with a sort of nuttiness from the pumpkin seeds and a crackle of cacao nibs; then you get a salty sweet hit of salted date caramel, oozy and luscious, smooth and sassy; and then the cheezecake–rich creamy berry mousse with a roasty-toasty coconut fragrance, punctuated and cut through with slivers and splinters of crisp buckini dark chocolate crunch bark. Beyond amazing–do give these a try!

blendco bombs

You will need:

For the cacao nib goji fudge brownie

-1/3 cup almonds

-1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

-1/3 cup pitted medjool dates

-1/3 cup goji berries

-1.5 tbs cacao

-1/2 tsp vanilla

-1 tbs tahini

-2 tbs cacao nibs

-2 tbs BlendCo skin blend

Blitz the almonds and pumpkin seeds until a mealy flour, then add the dates, cacao, goji berries, vanilla, and tahini. Process till a slightly sticky dough forms, pulse briefly to incorporate the cacao nibs and skin blend, and press into the base of a 6-cup silicone mould, or a muffin tin lined with parchment paper. Freeze while you make the other layers.

For the salted date caramel:

-1/4 cup medjool dates, soaked

-2 tbsp tahini

-1 tsp vanilla

-liberal pinch himalayan salt

Blend the soaked medjool dates, the tahini, vanilla, salt and enough soaking liquid for it to form a pasty caramel. Divide evenly over the silicone mould and spread out evenly. Return to the freezer.

For the dark chocolate buckini crunch bark chunks:

-about 60g melted dark chocolate

-1/4 cup buckwheat groats

Toast the buckwheat groats in a dry pan over low heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring every now and then, till they are crisp. Pour into the melted dark chocolate, stir to combine, and spread out in a thin even layer over parchment paper. Freeze till solid and break up into chunks of desired size.

For the raspberry-coconut cheezecake:

-1/2 cup frozen raspberries

-1/3 cup cashews, soaked overnight

-2 tbs coconut flakes

-2 tbs coconut oil

-3 tbs plant based milk

-3 tbs maple syrup

-1/2 tsp lemon juice

-1 capsule acai (optional, but for the sake of the skin blend I put it in) (I use OrganicBurst acai)

Process ingredients together in a food processor, adding more plant based milk if needed, till a creamy smooth mix forms. Scatter in the previously prepared buckini crunch bark and stir in before dividing evenly into the moulds. Freeze for 3 hours at least or overnight before removing from moulds and serving with a drizzle of tahini and more skin blend.

(disclaimer: I was not paid to advertise these products, BlendCo sent them to me for review. All opinions expressed are mine, and I think it’s pretty darn delicious.)

BlendCo

Website: http://blendco.com.au/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/blend_co

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blendcoaustralia

BlendCo Blog: http://blendco.com.au/the-blog/

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Gingerbread Sticky-Date Caramel Pear Baked Oatmeal+ Organic Burst Baobab

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HELLO. I am back! On my holiday resolution to post more! And I am here with a breakfast recipe. Something to ring in the season, now that it’s officially November and we now have calender-certified license to aggressively Christmas all over our food. Something that you can start colder mornings with, since seasons are changing at different parts of the globe. Of course, it’s still sunny here, hotter than Hades’ armpit and with haze to boot, but I can always pretend.

Flashback to my first experience of gingerbread…it wasn’t a pretty one. It was Christmas itself and the adults decided to give us all a gift of a gingerbread cookie–nutty dark dough cut into reindeer heads and Santa heads and I think a snowman, decorated with crumbly Royal icing in vibrant shades and little pearly hundreds-and-thousands and sprinkles. It looked promising–I mean, how bad can anything covered in 1000 different forms of sugar be, right?–but the moment we bit into it everyone kind of made a little wrinkled moue of distaste. I think only my brother managed to finish his–my cousins lost interest in the cookie over the allure of wrapping paper and ribbons under the Christmas tree, and I couldn’t really stomach the pungent, funnily spiced biscuit, which was awfully weird to my young tastebuds. Perhaps it was because we were raised on predominantly Oriental flavors and the sudden train of noxious spice barrelling into our mouths was too much to handle and a sensory overload, icing and hundreds-and-thousands or no. But that was my first gingerbread brush, and it wasn’t the best!

Now, however, I’ve developed quite a taste for it. There’s something oddly comforting and ancient about the mix of spicy ground ginger, allspice, sweet cinnamon, roasty cloves and toasty nutmeg combined with the dark, fruity, fermented sweetness of molasses and rich, buttery brown sugar. It brings a spiced, woody, nutty warmth and a bittersweet richness to a normal biscuit and makes me think of forests and pinecones and dark, rough wood and golden gilt. Yeah, I’m a weird person. But isn’t it funny how people develop flavors? Who decided to first dump all these different spices together into a biscuit? Who decided to take a weird looking black pod from a tree and scrape out its claggy, crumbly wet-soil insides, discovering vanilla? Who decided to take a knobby scaly thing they dug out from the ground and take a tentative bite of its pale yellow insides, discovering the fiery kick and subtle heat of ginger? I always think about these things…it must have been an awfully confusing time for our very early ancestors. Did they go around tasting different things and plucking oddly shaped fruit off trees? Or did they just observe what animals ate all day long to prevent any of them kicking the bucket from some toxic berry? At any rate, I’m very much grateful that they did that for us, and we no longer have to worry about whether raspberries would give us the runs, or something similar.

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Baked oatmeal is incredible. Oats are incredible. They are the best little grains ever. They obediently soak up liquid and flavor, fluff up under heat and expand to form puffed softness but still with lovely texture, and can be used for so many things. This was like a massive gingerbread muffin, stuffed with soft juicy chunks of roasted pear and plump morsels of caramelly, sticky sweet dates. And it has a very special ingredient–baobab!

If you’re scratching your head going “bao-wHAT?” at your screen, have no fear. Remember this post, which featured a superfood called maca by the lovely company Organic Burst? Now here comes another of their lovely superfoods and it is baobab! Baobab, firstly, comes in this light orangey-brown powder. When you open the cap and give it a whiff, it has a sort of slightly sour-plum sweetness in its scent, and a hint of tropical fruitiness. Its original form is a sort of smallish watermelon-shaped fruit, with a long rod-like stem. You can view a video of the harvesting process here–the baobab powder is quite simply the raw, naturally occurring contents of the baobab pod. This 100% pure, nutrient dense powder is not heat treated in the process of manufacturing, so all the Vitamin C and enzymes are preserved–bonus points for baobab! Nutrition-wise, it packs quite a hefty punch–it has double the antioxidants than acai, making it an unsung powerhouse of antioxidant goodness, and has a lovely amount of ultra-healthy, soluble fibre. It is also the planet’s highest plant source of calcium, which makes it great if you don’t quite fancy cow’s milk or cheese or other animal sources to get your bones well fed and strong! Your immune system and nervous system also get some extra support from the Vitamin C and potassium that can be found from the baobab, and it gives a powerful iron and magnesium boost to boot. And–very importantly too–it is ethically sourced, and Organic Burst supplies the baobab whilst keeping in mind both the welfare of the local village communities where it is sourced from and the protection of the baobab trees themselves as important components of the biodiversity of the world.

But all the nutrition and information aside, we know that the proof–and the selling deal–is in the flavor, and baobab has a lovely taste. Predominantly it is sweet with a hint of tang, and a sort of mango-reminiscent tropical freshness. It also has a sweet, caramelly fruitiness that reminds me personally of molasses. I used it in this recipe to support the blackstrap molasses for the gingerbread flavor of the baked oatmeal, and it gave an incredible body to the otherwise straight-and-true dark molasses flavor; it added an element of lightness and a sort of sweet spice of it’s own. Organic Burst has more about baobab here and how you can order it from them; it’s awfully fun to add to different dishes, incredibly versatile to both sweet and savory alike, and definitely worth a try. If you really can’t get it, the recipe will work just fine, but its a great addition that you shouldn’t pass up.

So we have baobab in the baked oatmeal party, and things are getting good.

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HAHA. Do you see it there? The melty chocolate, barely regaining it’s Lindt-stamped and four line pattern integrity above the molty, dark velvety goodness? It’s what every food photographer dreams of achieving, so I can waggle it in your faces and tempt you into making this, or at least consuming more chocolate. Dark chocolate has a lot of antioxidants. Nah, I’m not as mean as that. I promise. But it does make for a pretty shot!

The baked oatmeal comes out lovely deep golden, thanks to the baobab and the molasses. Crusty on top too, which is great. The texture is like a fluffy muffin–crumbs of fluffed oat kernels swollen with flavor and moist butteriness, with a burnished slightly crispy top. It’s like a massive, oaty, gingerbread muffin. You can taste the subtle fruity tang of baobab beneath the rich molasses and the warm toasty gingerbread spice, forming the classic gingerbread flavor, and a dark sugary hit from the brown sugar. Then, in case you get bored of all that goodness (which is virtually impossible, I promise), it’s studded with chunks of medjool dates, swollen and plump with caramel, sticky gooey goodness, for an even more decadent hit of sweetness–and also chunks of pear, baked till soft but not melty, mellow and creamy. So good. And if you put the melty Lindt chocolate into the equation, and some nutty tahini…I’m sold. Aren’t you?

This takes barely any time to come together, and takes a mercifully quick time to bake. Once you’re done with the dishes, all you have to do is flip through the papers, or do some morning stretching, and then brew your coffee or tea–and this will come out of the oven, nice and ready for a lovely spiced seasonal breakfast. You can dig in, and dig in, and it will be gone too soon. But it fills you up nicely, and makes for a wholesome start to your day.

And just in case those weren’t enough photos…

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Go forth and gingerbread.

gingerbread sticky-date caramel pear baked oatmeal

(possibly vegan and gluten-free)

You will need:

-1/2 cup rolled oats (you can use gluten free oats/quinoa flakes for a gluten free version)

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1/2 tbs Organic Burst baobab

-1/2 tsp gingerbread spice, or cinnamon+ground ginger+allspice+nutmeg+cloves to taste

-1 tsp fresh grated ginger (optional, for a little more kick)

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-1 large banana

-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

-1/2 tbs molasses

-1/2 tbs dark brown sugar/coconut sugar

-3 tbs greek yogurt/coconut cream

-about 6 tbs plant based milk

-medjool dates, chopped

-about 1 ripe pear

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a bowl, mash the banana and add the greek yogurt, plant based milk, sugar, molasses and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the oats, coconut flour, baobab, gingerbread spice, and baking powder+soda on top of the wet mixture and fold in to combine. Add a little more plant based milk if needed–it should be a muffin/pancake consistency batter. Add your medjool dates, as much as you want, and about half of the pear diced into chunks. Fold the additions in and scoop the batter into a baking dish. Top with the leftover pear half, sliced, and/or banana coins. Bake for 20 minutes till golden and crusty; let cool 5-10 minutes before eating.

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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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