What is Yoga+Common Myths about Yoga: Guest post by Sassy Yogi

Hello guys! Today we’re swapping things up a bit with some bendy instead of bake-y action–courtesy of the one and only SassyYogi: Angie! Angie is a lovely lady who has made massive waves in the wellness and yogi family online, and I got to know her through her tumblr where she kindly answered all sorts of yoga questions with patience and wisdom, started a hashtag movement with other tumblr yogis to encourage people to get into yoga and love themselves no matter what stage of flexibility/yoga proficiency they were at through daily challenges, and posted amazingly beautiful photos of her bendy adventures at all sorts of locations. I’m so very glad to have gotten in touch with such an inspiring figure, and am immensely chuffed to welcome her to post on my blog today! I’ll shut up now and let her talk.

Hello everyone! This is Angie (@sassyyogi), and I am really happy and honoured to be guest writing on Lin’s website. I have always been a huge fan of Lin and her amazing recipes online, and today I am very happy to be sharing my love with you guys – yoga!
Some of you may wonder what’s the relation between creating beautiful, innovative healthy foods and yoga. It is very simple – both are a form of art. They are great tools to help us gain a healthier relationship and perception with ourselves and our bodies. Yoga often suffers the misconception that it is only for the bendy, but that is really untrue. Many yogis (people who practice yoga) started off inflexible, and yogis come in all shapes and sizes, and are all amazing in their own way.
Having practiced yoga for 2 years and counting now, I still vividly recall the days when I hated stretching, and I couldn’t even touch my toes in a forward bend! 2 years later, not only am I physically more flexible, yoga has transformed my relationship with my body and my self-esteem issues. Yoga has been a great teacher for me in teaching me the importance of compassion, mindfulness, and self-acceptance.

How do I get started on yoga?
Getting started with yoga may seem like a daunting thing to do, especially when it comes to stepping into a brand new environment and trying out a brand new sport. Going with a friend always helps – it is a great support system where you and your friend can constantly encourage each other! If a yoga studio is not accessible to you for any reason, online resources are often a great way to get started as well. You can check out this post for a list of all the great online yoga resources for you to try it out.
At your first yoga class, do not be afraid to let your instructor know that you are a first-timer. It’s nothing embarrassing because everyone has their firsts, and it allows your instructor to pay more attention to your alignment and posture during your class. That way, you reap more benefit for your class!
Yoga is *NOT*…
1. … about those crazy looking poses that you see on tumblr, Facebook, or Instagram. It is more about connecting with your body, understanding and accepting your body’s limitations, and working within your means.
2. … just for the bendy, it’s for everyone! You do not have to be flexible to do yoga, you do yoga to become more flexible!
3. … an exclusive sport. The yoga community is really loving, inclusive, and supporting, and are one of the nicest people I’ve met.
4. … just for a certain group of people. You do not have to look a certain way to do yoga. No matter whether you are big or small, you can do yoga. Yoga is definitely not limited to a certain body type. If you can breathe, you can do yoga! As simple as that.
5. … easy. It may seem really easy and gentle, but certain styles of yoga (such as Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, just to name a few) can be really challenging and dynamic, and gets your heart pumping and your muscles (which you may never knew existed) to work up a sweat!
If you are looking to get started on yoga and may have any questions, feel free to comment on the post below and I will be sure to get back to you! Feel free to connect with me on my website, tumblr, and Instagram. It’s been a great pleasure to be guest writing on here, and I will see you guys real soon! x
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Vegan Squarebar Cheesecake Cookie-Dough Cups+Review

I think I might be going a little heavy on the cookie dough paraphernalia recently. There’s the Realist train of thought, there’s the Communist train of thought, there’s the Marxist train of thought and maybe there is the Cookie Dough train of thought, which acknowledges and empathises with the Hobbesian anarchical state of nature but instates that all woes can be momentarily mitigated by cookie dough. Now that’s a thought that will garner quite a field of supporters.

All nonsensical, slightly school-drunken ramblings aside, it’s still a fact that creamy rich cookie dough studded with dark chocolate chunks is near the top of the ladder as foods that have the same effect on you as a holiday, or winning the lottery. And here we get cookie dough made cheesecake flavored, vegan, and sitting on top of bases made by no other than the fabulous, the fantastical, the flamboyantly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious chocolate covered protein bar known as Squarebar! I’ve been absolutely smitten with these bars for a long while and you’ve probably seen loads of them crumbled, chopped and chunked all over my food on my Instagram–and now it’s time to give them a proper introduction.

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Everyone, welcome the Squarebar. An organic, vegan, gluten free protein bar created by the kitchen wizard duo Andrew and Sarah Gordon, a lovely couple that discovered just how healing eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, and processed sugars was to Sarah’s asthma and created this bar that reflects their belief in nutrition and the importance of ingredients. Besides ensuring an ethical approach in their production (which is something I firmly believe in and endorse, and that I’m increasingly heartened to see more companies adopt such as Bare Blends) by working directly with the farmers of the organic and non-gmo ingredients, they have partnered up with Not For Sale–a San Francisco based non-profit organization fighting modern-day slavery, human trafficking and exploitation around the world–to fund the organization’s abolitionist efforts, and contribute 2.5% of their sales to the campaign. As people in positions of privilege, it’s very important to ensure that what is on our plate causes as little harm as possible and that we learn how to educate ourselves as to exactly how our ingredients are farmed, sourced and produced, and I’m so glad that Squarebars has got that area covered and actively endorses an ethical way of living starting from the plate.

So this is how the combo pack of their 3 original flavors looks like–coming in handy dandy sleeves that ensure that these bars are ready to chuck into your bag for an on-the-go boost or to survive a long journey squashed amongst the debris within your bag (don’t lie, I know there’s a lint ball/crushed receipt/decade old wrapper somewhere in there)(if there isn’t kudos to you, you are a champ of the highest degree). From bottom up: the bars are cocoa almond, cocoa crunch and cocoa coconut flavored and are little rectangles covered in a dully shining, crackly layer of chocolate. According to the package, each bar comes with a hefty hit of 12 gram’s worth of protein, is sweetened with coconut nectar, and is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, peanut-free and corn-free for those whose tummies can’t take these common allergens/wish to cut them out for some reason.

The first time I tried this, I remembered tasting a shard of the chocolate coating that crumbled when I was cutting up the bar to put on oatmeal. In the spectrum of vegan chocolate I’ve had (Lindt dark chocolate, Pana chocolate, Loving Earth chocolate, homemade raw chocolate, Antidote chocolate) it goes to somewhere between homemade raw chocolate and Pana chocolate–in that it has a noticeable syrup sweetness to it like the type you get from maple syrup and honey; a sort of sticky golden caramelly flavor that melts nicely in your mouth. From the ingredient list I’ve just checked, it’s made from organic cocoa liquor, cane syrup and cocoa butter–which makes me right and my tastebuds not that bad after all! It doesn’t have the buttery richness and luxurious cocoa buttery melt of Pana chocolate, nor the dull sometimes chalky melt of homemade raw chocolate, but more like a glossy, quick melt. It’s good chocolate–not too rich and overpowering for the bar or a weak excuse for cacao in a chalky, stodgy mess; it complements it just nicely.

The cocoa almond is the densest bar amongst the three; it is a fudgy, chocolaty affair that has the faint taste of almonds and cinnamon. The bar is sweet, but not overly so; and the dense fudginess makes it taste decadently delicious, but yet it manages not to be cloying or thickly heavy like some bars that rely overly on medjool dates and nuts for a base, so you feel satiated but not fooded out, and honestly it’s one of the best protein bars I’ve had.

The cocoa crunch bar has the same chocolate coating and fudgy base that I’ve now come to associate as characteristically Squarebar (and which is a very good thing!) but is slightly drier, and has a sort of popped rice and popped corn sort of maltiness to it. Apparently it’s supposed to contain organic rice crisps inside, which I do see from the chunks, but unfortunately didn’t quite manage to get the sort of crunchy crispiness I was looking out for. Maybe I eat them too hurriedly to discern any sort of textural variation, in which case it would be my bad, oops. They’re very much delicious though, and taste like chocolaty heaven especially when on top of pancakes!

Last but not least, the cocoa-coconut–same chocolate coating but this protein bar is additionally creamy. Along with the similar fudgy, chocolaty sweetness of the previous two bars, this one has an added tropical burst of coconut flavor (which comes from the shredded coconut within) and a level of buttery richness that makes it extra decadent, from the coconut oil added. The coconut flavor isn’t too discernable, which is good for those of you who don’t particularly like the flavor, but it’s noticeable enough on a whole and not underwhelmed too much by the chocolate and cacao, which is a great balance. All in all, another fabulous bar that I very much enjoyed eating.

I’ve had these bars on top of pancakes, oatmeal, french toast, and inside bagels (mm that was good) and alone–they have been very much a welcome quick fridge grab in the morning when I have homework due but haven’t managed to complete and would therefore have to devote recess time to doing, ensuring that I’ll have something to munch on even whilst toiling away. I love Squarebars very much and am glad and humbled for the chance to be able to sample this deliciousness; the friends that I’ve given some to to try have also been heartily approving its taste and delicious chocolatiness whilst still managing to keep things feeling good and wholesome. And they’ve recently released two new flavors–cocoa cherry and cocoa mint–which you will see on this space very, very soon so watch out for that! All in all, Squarebars is a wonderful company that endorses a firm set of ethics and that has managed to create something that is beautifully scrumptious. Definitely find the chance to check them out if you can–they’re available on the website itself if you click the link.

And yup. I know you’ve been waiting for these. Cups of cheesecake cookie dough deliciousness sitting on bases of chocolaty, fudgy Squarebar–these add the extra decadent dessert element to the snacky one, and are perfect for a tea time treat. I had fun thinking of cookie dough flavors to complement the Squarebar flavors, and in the end these are the three that combine the original combo pack of Squarebars with an added level of cookie doughy yumminess!

The cocoa almond base is topped with a layer of almond vanilla cheesecake cookie dough and then another layer on top of berry jam cheesecake cookie dough (think almond butter and jelly), the cocoa crunch base is topped with a brownie cheesecake cookie dough filled with a crunchy buckwheat crackle, and the cocoa coconut base is topped with a buttery chocolate-chip coconut vanilla cheesecake cookie dough. I discovered cheesecake cookie dough–an amazingly squidgy, creamy and rich cookie dough–when thinking of adding cold coconut cream to a cookie dough recipe I was tweaking! Long story short, it was divine. It creates a beautiful cheesecake-like melt to the cookie dough, and definitely increases the scrummy meter by a few notches.

The recipe is for 6–making Cocoa Coconut2 of each flavor. I hope you try these and Squarebars out, do let me know what you think!

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

 

Vegan Squarebar Cheesecake Cookie-Dough Cups

You will need:

Cocoa Almond

-1 cocoa almond Squarebar

-1/4 cup rolled oats

-2 tbs almonds/almond flakes (or just a small handful’s worth)

-1 tbs coconut sugar

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract

-2 heaped tbsp cold coconut cream (should be a solid, scoopable consistency–like the type used to make coconut whipped cream)

-1 tbsp coconut butter/any nut butter, melted

-1/2 tbs berry jam

-1 tsp BareBlends Bare Berries (optional but recommended)

Cocoa Crunch

-1 cocoa crunch Squarebar

-1/4 cup rolled oats

-1 tbs carob/cacao/cocoa

-1/4 tsp cinnamon (or as much as you wish)

-1 tbs coconut sugar

-2 heaped tbsp cold coconut cream

-1 tbsp coconut butter/any nut butter, melted

-1 tbs buckwheat groats+1/2 tsp coconut oil+1/2 tsp maple syrup

Cocoa Coconut

-1 cocoa coconut Squarebar

-1/4 cup rolled oats

-2 tbs dessicated coconut/shredded coconut

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1 tbs coconut sugar

-2 heaped tbsp cold coconut cream

-1 tsp coconut butter/any nut butter, melted

-2 tbsp vegan chocolate chips/dark chocolate chunks/carob chips

First of all, prepare a silicone 6-cup muffin mould/any silicone mould of your choice, or line a 6-cup muffin tin with muffin cups. Using a small food processor attachment, blitz up the cocoa almond Squarebar. It should break up into chunks and then start to gather again to form a dough–divide the dough amongst 2 of the 6 cups and press to cover the bottom. Repeat with the other two Squarebar flavors until you get 3 sets of 2 bases for each flavor.

For the cocoa almond: Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor till you get a floury consistency. Add the almonds and blitz against until everything is a coarse meal. Add in the coconut sugar, vanilla, coconut cream, coconut butter and stir till you get a thick cookie dough consistency. Take half of this dough and spread it evenly on top of the two cocoa almond Squarebar bases. Add the jam and the Bare Blends Bare Berries to the remaining half of cookie dough and then spread that on top of the almond cookie dough.

For the cocoa crunch: Blitz the rolled oats, cacao/carob/cocoa and cinnamon till a flour forms. Add the coconut sugar, coconut cream and  coconut butter and mix till a chocolate cookie dough forms. Mix the buckwheat groats with the coconut oil and maple syrup till coated, and either toast in a small pan over low heat until golden and crisp and crunchy or bake on a parchment lined dish till golden brown and crunchy, stirring every now and then. Tip this in, mix and then divide over the cocoa crunch bases. Spread that till evenly covered.

For the cocoa coconut: Blitz the rolled oats and dessicated coconut till a meal forms. Add the coconut sugar, vanilla bean paste, coconut cream, coconut butter/nut butter and mix till a dough forms. Tip in the vegan chocolate, stir and then spread evenly over the cocoa coconut bases.

Freeze the cheesecake cookie dough cups until solid, at least 2 hours. Let defrost slightly in the fridge for maybe 20 minutes to half an hour to get the perfect softness before eating, or a shorter time outside if you wish. Enjoy!

Squarebar

Website: http://www.squarebar.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/squarebars/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/squarebars

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Vegan Cookie Dough

FIRST POST OF FEBRUARY comes in the middle of February because of copious servings of schoolwork…many apologies for this late post, which I’ve been promising and teasing very much unfairly for a long while but haven’t gotten the time to properly plinky-plonk on the keyboard into fruition. But here it is! Look! COOKIE DOUGH–edible, very much advised to consume by thick, tufty heaped spoonful, studded with carob chips and absolutely divine. I was beyond chuffed when I scooped it out of the food processor and into a bowl, because this is the motherlode. This is the answer to all your cookie dough dreams. Cookie dough ice cream a la Ben and Jerry’s half baked? No problem–chuck some of these in plain vanilla ice cream, add some chunks of fudgy, squishy brownie like this banoffee super fudge brownie or this vegan gluten free banana peanut butter swirl brownie, and you’re set. Have a sudden craving for cookie dough? Just grab yourself a spoon. Want some cookie dough on your pancakes or on french toast or on oatmeal or on your whole life? Grab a bowl of this and knock yourself out. It is a bowl brimming with potential salmonella-free deliciousness. I know that much responsibility in your hands is overwhelming, but y’know, you can deal. I’m sure you can. So I’m going to show you a few ways in which you can use this magical cookie dough deliciousness. The cookie dough has a base of chickpeas (surprise!!) although you do not taste it at all–the chickpeas blend into a creamy rich, hummus thick and buttery loveliness that the oat flour builds on with coconut sugar, vanilla bean paste, peanut butter and squishy medjool dates to form a shockingly uncanny reincarnation of the sneaky finger of cookie dough you snuck from the mixing bowl before putting the tray of cookies into the oven. So essentially what you get is a super fluffy, super tufty, super creamy and whipped mountain of craggy cookie dough from a can of chickpeas. MAGIC. As you can see above, I’m a big fan of combining breakfast with dessert. The first photo was hot chocolate french toast made on multigrain seeded bread soaked in a batter of banana, soy milk, du chocolat hot cacao mix (review of this coming soon…sneak preview: perfection), carob powder, cinnamon, coconut sugar and vanilla before fried in coconut oil into browned, burnished, chocolaty rich perfection. I topped it with cookie dough questbar cookies (chopped and baked till crispy cookie likeness), cookie crisp and this cookie dough because why not. And if you’re fancying pancakes, that’s good too–I made a massive stack of chocolate pancakes, topped it with an ice-cream scoop of this cookie dough and it was one of the best things I ate this year. Looked impressive too. Imagine a steaming, fluffy stack of chocolaty, thick pancakes with a squidge of cookie dough on top. Make everyone jealous with this. It works. And yes, what I went crazy photographing for…this cookie fudge cake. The bottom layer was a deep-dish soft baked vegan wholewheat cookie, baked till brown and set and buttery with molten chunks of chocolate throughout, then topped with a layer of banana-tahini chocolate fudge–blended bananas, tahini, cocoa, maple syrup and a lil coconut butter till rich ganache consistency–before a lid of this cookie dough was smooshed on top. The concoction was then froze to tall, imposing cookie dough and chocolate perfection before drizzled with oozy raw chocolate ganache, cookie dough balls, carob chip chunks and a square of pana chocolate. This was…stupendous. Kind of like a massive cookie ice cream sandwich, but with a bottom layer of baked cookie and a top layer of cookie dough instead. And with lots of other nobs tossed in like the drippy ganache, of course. In other words it was a massive chocolate explosion, which if you’ve been sticking around for some time, is exactly like me to do. In summation: this is a treasure chest of cookie dough craziness that is so close within your reach, so easy, and beyond worth the perhaps 10 minutes of your life. Do it. I know I’ve been rather absent posting and recipe developing wise, but I’m taking things slow. Slow and steady, trying to manage life and living life at the same time. Do bear with me through this crazy student-era of my life. Sometimes I do get doubts over how far this blog will go, how long will my Instagram last before I fade away into obscurity, how long I get to bake with passion before any chance I have at making this a career is over. But yknow, I’ll just go with the flow. Doing things I love, doing things I believe in, trying out opportunities that come my way, trying to put myself out there so that I can continue doing this for a long while. I’ve been immensely privileged to be given a platform and a following to project my passion to, and I’ll make the most out of it whilst fulfilling my obligation as a student.

vegan cookie dough

-1 tin canned chickpeas

-1 cup rolled oats

-2 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter/almond butter

-3 tbs applesauce

-4 very soft medjool dates

-3 tbs coconut sugar

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/4 tsp cinnamon

-2 tbs plant based milk + more if required

-1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips/carob chips

In a food processor, blitz the oats till they form a mealy flour. Add the rest of the ingredients in except for the chocolate chips and blend away till everything is broken down, scraping the sides a few times, and it forms a thick, doughy, tufty cookie dough consistency. If needed, add a little almond meal or more plant based milk depending if your cookie dough is too thin or too thick. Remove the blade and fold in the chocolate chips/carob chips, dollop into a bowl and you’re done! Refrigerate when not in use and keep up to 8 days, covered in an airtight tupperware/container in the fridge.

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Chocolate Brownie Berry Cookie Sandwiches (Bare Blends)

Hey pals! Yeah, we’ve got some triple decker goodness going on this round–berry between chocolate kind of goodness. Imagine two rounds of cakey, fudgy and intensely chocolaty brownie cookie with a blorp of thick berry cashew creme in the centre, airy as marshmallow and with the zingy tart brightness and bounce of berries. This is what these chocolate brownie berry cookie sandwiches are, and boy do I love them.

DISCLAIMER: I have never had a whoopie pie before. I have a sneaking suspicion these might be perilously close to a whoopie pie, but until then and until my current impression of whoopie pie as muffin-like cakey cookie sandwiches is refuted or rebutted, these shall remain under their christened name. Deal? Deal. I’ll throw you a brownie cookie sandwich as a bonus. Who even came up with whoopie pie, anyway…it sounds rather dubious a name and reminds me too much of those trick cushion things that make the poor victim who sits upon them sound like they released a whopper of a, uh, butt exhale. Yeah…butt exhale…clearly I need to get more sleep. I’m sorry. But you get what I mean.

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Half drunken rambling aside, these babies were made with some cool goodies I got from my friends at Bare Blends! Bare Blends, in case you didn’t know, is a super cool bunch of folks down under that have environmentally friendly, super natural and organic, along with tasty and delicious under their hat. Founded in 2012, this group of cool beans set out to offer protein powders, blends and superfoods that aren’t pumped full of artificial chemicals, sweeteners, enhancers and other non body nor environmentally friendly substances and–very importantly–taste good too. I really love that more and more companies are getting into the urgent need to use sustainable resources, to make environmentally friendly a core goal of their production and focusing more in using natural, sustainable ingredients–and Bare Blends are one of the first few companies I saw, especially for one that produces protein powder, that set out to pioneer a green way. The super cool packaging for their products is made of recycled paper instead of plastic, and they choose certified organic ingredients free from synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and chemical pesticides (and which also ensures soil fertility due to higher organic matter content and biological activity, how cool is that!).

The brownie cookies in these recipe have some of Bare Blend’s raw peruvian powder protein added in–a vegan (!!) blend of South American superfoods like sacha inchi, which is a Peruvian peanut cultivated in the Amazon and Andes containing healthy fatty acids and easily digestible vegan protein, along with some of my other favourite superfoods like maca, cacao, vanilla bean, mesquite, and lucuma to name a few. The end result is an energy-packed, fragrant nutty blend filled with minerals and protein that can keep you going for a long while. And since I wasn’t aiming to use it for any reason in particular like muscle building or performance after exercise, taste is certainly very important–and I must say that it was impressive. I was cautious about the Peruvian peanut (is it like peanut butter peanut?? is it an exotic peanut?? how exotic can peanuts get, right??) but when I first tasted the blend in pancakes and in a smoothie, it was simply amazing. The Peruvian powder protein gives a flavor that has a milder, more nutty type of peanut flavor as opposed to the full-on peanut party you get from peanut butter, and that is highlighted with a sort of lighter richness, a malty chocolaty flavor from the maca and cacao, and a subtle but fruity and caramelly sweetness. All in all: you get peanutty, malty, chocolaty, and caramelly. So good. And it’s so easy to mix into just about anything–pancakes, oatmeal, smoothies, bakes, raw desserts…definitely thumbs up for this one.

Another package the guys sent over was their bare berries blend. This was such an interesting product–it’s basically a freeze dried powder of a delicious blend of berries, so it’s like a concentrated fairy dust of everything berry nice that makes all your food a beautiful rich beet-shade plum if you add in enough! Yeah, concentrated fairy dust describes it reasonably well. Inside this fairy dust is pomegranate, blueberries, sour cherry, lingonberry, red and black raspberries, black currant, concord grape, acai berry, macqui berry and more–14 berries in total, which makes it a positively massive berry bash going on inside. The powder is a deep rich plum shade and I used it in my berry cashew creme here–it yields a tart, zingy burst of berry flavor and a punch of antioxidants. Can’t express how much I love it. And if you’re short on berries or if the fruit section in your supermarket is jacking up the prices recently, a spoonful of this will ensure you still get the nutrition and the zingy berry feel in your smoothies.

And the last one I got, but not the least–their bare greens blend. I admit, I was hesitant about this one. Berries I can deal, Peruvian peanuts turned out pretty tasty, but I’ve always been skeptical about greens that aren’t, y’know, broccoli or spinach or bok choy. Greens in smoothies I’ve never tried in particular, but I was game to try for this one. And it didn’t disappoint! I had it for a side along with some toast for an after school snack one day, and it tasted amazing. It gave a sort of grassy, fresh zing to my simple smoothie base of frozen banana, almond milk and strawberries. Not in a bad, bitter herbal taste either–sort of like a fresh exhale of mint, but without the mint flavor and a little bit of a matcha sort of feel (and I found out that it did, indeed, contain matcha! So huzzah for discerning tastebuds). It contains kale, wheatgrass, chlorella, matcha, barley, spirulina, and spinach amongst other fun ingredients to form a pack of freeze dried veggie power–vegetables, grasses, algae and matcha. I know, it sounds a little dubious and something overly ‘healthy’…but believe me, it’s good. And covers your vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients sufficiently as well. Get on the green stuff, I say! Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street is green too.

my Oscar the Grouch smoothie, courtesy of bare greens

my Oscar the Grouch smoothie, courtesy of bare greens

All in all: I’m honestly so glad to have gotten the chance to work with the amazing dudes. Do check them out at Bare Blends–I can’t believe how fortunate I have been to be able to try such products from a company that deserves all the customers it can get, and to be able to test out things that align with my firm belief of environmental respect and care. They’ve also been incredibly understanding and supportive and I couldn’t have asked for more. You can check out my Instagram (and theirs, too) for more ways in which I use these products/ways they can be used!

Back to these cookies though: they have the Power of the Peruvian Peanut and a Battalion of 14 Berries in their cashew creme. Not something to be trifled with taste-wise, because these guys will rock your socks. Soft, fudgy chocolate cookie with a crunch of almonds on top and an almost mousse-like cashew creme in the centre filled with bright berry flavor–what more could you want? Little sandwiches of happiness. Give these a try.

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

 

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Chocolate Brownie Berry Cookie Sandwiches

You will need:

For the cookies

-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

-1/4 cup coconut oil

-1/2 cup raw cane sugar/coconut sugar

-1/3 cup cocoa/cacao/carob

-3 tbs Bare Blends raw peruvian powder protein (or protein powder of your choice/more cocoa/peanut flour)

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/2 cup wholewheat pastry flour

-1/2 cup oat flour

-2 tbs rice flour

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-crushed almond slivers

For the cashew creme

-1/4 cup soaked cashews

-handful of frozen berries

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-2 tbs plant based milk

-1 tbs coconut oil/coconut butter

-2 tbs maple syrup

-2 tbs silken tofu/soy yogurt/coconut yogurt/greek yogurt

-1 spoonful bare berries blend

Blend all the ingredients for the cashew creme together in a small food processor or blender attachment, adding a little more plant based milk if needed for the mixture to reach a thick, creamy consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge until needed.

Whisk the applesauce, oil, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, and peruvian protein together in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Sift in the dry ingredients on top and fold it in with a spatula–you should get a moist, tacky dough. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and chill for at least half an hour in the fridge or until the dough is cold enough to handle.

When the dough is cold enough, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll out ping pong ball sized mounds of dough in your palms into balls before flattening into round cookie shapes onto the parchment paper–these won’t spread much, so flatten them before baking. Scatter crushed almonds on top of half of the cookie dough rounds and press them in slightly. Bake these for 12-15 minutes until the tops are firm when prodded lightly; let them cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, sandwich one almond and one plain with the prepared cashew creme. Chill the sandwiches for at least an hour (overnight is ideal for the cookies to set up really fudgy and for the creme to turn into an almost ice cream texture) before serving!

Bare Blends

Website: http://bareblends.com/au

Instagram: instagram.com/bareblends

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

Store: http://bareblends.com.au/store/

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Berry Cheezecake Pancakes

Another weekend, another pancake production! These were some of the best pancakes I’ve had in a long while. Two words–BERRY CHEEZECAKE. I’m not someone to go for gentle pancake flavors…when it comes to one of my favourite meals, I go all out with flavors. It’s such fun to be able to customise them and ignite the canvas of fluffy cake with all your favourite flavor fusion fireworks–cheesecake in pancakes? Fine by me. I tend to use ice cream flavors as potential springboards for future pancake creations as well (cough, Ben and Jerry’s, cough).

These are made berry cheezecake as they’re studded with frozen berries (you could use fresh, if you fancy) and get this: cheezecake chunks. I froze a raw cheezecake batter in a shallow silicone tray, bashed it up into small sized chunks and folded it into the batter just before cooking–and you get cheezecake chips! Man, and were they delicious. I’m very proud of this idea. I’d like to thank the leftover cashew cheezecake cream in the fridge, my incessant hunger to pancake every delicious flavor in existence, and a determination to make every pancake meal better than the last.

 

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The batter is a thick, ivory one stippled with ribbons of vibrant bleeding berry juice amidst the cream. I admit that these are a little messier when it comes to cooking–cheezecake chunks melt, berries burst, and you need to ensure your pan is properly greased for minimum pancake abrasion when flipping–but they’re well worth it, and to be quite honest I never had so much fun cooking my pancakes in my life. Sometimes you need a little mess to add spice to your life. And even though these are far from the most aesthetically pleasing batch I’ve made, they certainly hit all the marks just right taste-wise.

I topped mine with crushed almonds, toasted coconut, peanut butter (as usual..) and a whole assortment of berries. I can’t tell you how immensely satisfying these were–hearty, golden, soft; with tart berries bleeding warm, sweet and sputtering juice into the aerated crumb and rich pockets of molten cheezecake, velvety and creamy and just amazing, oozing and melding with the warmed berries into a rich and berry-fresh sensation. Definitely give these a try, and add “cheezecake pancakes” to your repertoire of to-go pancake flavors.

 

Berry Cheezecake Pancakes

You will need:

Ingredients

-1/4 cup+2 tbs flour of choice (I used a mix of spelt, wholewheat pastry and oat)

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-dash cinnamon

-2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax+6 tbs water mixed and left to thicken for at least half an hour, best overnight)

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1 large banana, mashed

-120-140ml plant based milk

-1 tbs coconut sugar/maple syrup/sweetener

-1/2 tbs lemon zest (optional but recommended)

-1/4 to 1/3 cup frozen or fresh berries

-2 tbs cheezecake chunks

Cheezecake chunks

-3 tbs cashews, soaked overnight/for at least 3 hours

-1/2 tbs coconut cream (or soy/coconut yogurt, or normal yogurt if you’re not vegan)

-1/4 tsp vanilla

-1/2 tbs coconut oil

-1/2 tbs maple syrup/liquid sweetener

-1 tsp lemon juice

Blitz all the ingredients for the cheezecake chunks together until thick and creamy; you can add a little plant based milk if you have trouble blending, but keep in mind it should be a thick cream consistency. Dollop into either a silicone ice cube tray/shallow mould or a small tray lined with parchment paper and spread out thinly. Freeze overnight till solid, break up into smaller chunks and keep chilled until needed.

For the pancakes, whisk all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In another, add all the wet ingredients and whisk that until homogenous before adding in the dry and mixing to combine. Let the pancake batter sit while you preheat your pan on the lowest heat. Once the pan is hot enough such that a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact, grease it well with coconut oil/grapeseed oil. Mix in your berries and cheezecake chunks and then dollop on the pancakes. Let cook until the edges dull and start to solidify and bubbles start to appear on the surface, before flipping and cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan once the underside is golden. Repeat with the rest of the batter until all is gone.

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Cookie Dough and Coconut Brownie Snack Balls

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m quite a lazy person. The only thing I can be remotely bothered about is food, and even that–if you ask me to make something that takes 48 hours to ferment under a full moon chanting around it and doing some Stone-Age dance so that the yeast sprouteth and groweth, I’ll probably blink at you a few times before mutely padding to the fridge, taking out my trusty chocolate stash and collapsing on the couch with it instead. No matter how delicious it is, or if it’s some Elixir of Youth and Eternal Pancakedom,  I rarely have the luxury of motivation (or even time)(maybe that’s down to poor time management, but that’s another story…).

Luckily for slow sloths like me, there are quick treats that you can rustle up without breaking out into a laborious sweat, and that will appear in front of you as a form of quick, delicious satisfaction with no time at all. They come in useful especially when you’re slaving over stupid math questions (trigonometry 3, I loathe you with all my heart and soul) that you keep GETTING WRONG and you’re just about to pull your hair out and smash your calculator against a brick wall. When times like that come by and the only thing to appease and pacify your raging tirade is something to chew on furiously to vent your anger through some trusty jaw exercise, these babies are just perfect. Little balls of speedy deliciousness that take only one bowl to mix into creation, and that don’t leave an awful mess whilst eating them–because it only takes a simple journey from hand to mouth in a quick pop to transport them to your waiting stomach.

The next time you have a mound of coursework or paperwork to do, may I suggest these cookie dough balls, or coconut brownie balls? Beyond efficient, instant gratification, super scrummy, your perfect procrastination pal. Kidding. Do your work!!

 

What are your favourite study snacks? I’m not the type of person that can snack while studying, because I simply lack the mental capacity to operate on two highly important functions at the same time. I have to set a break time where I scroll my social media and nom before diving back into the books, having gathered enough physical and mental fuel to carry on for another lap or two before I divert my attention to yet another cat video. Study snacks mean snacks that are easy to pile together, normally for me an everything-on-top-of-yogurt bowl–yogurt, either plain or with chocolate+cinnamon, berry jam, or peanut butter stirred in, topped with an assortment of chopped fruits and granola, muesli, perhaps a crumbled muffin or a homemade cookie or two. A truly well-balanced sounding snack, but you haven’t seen the days where a large bar of chocolate seems like the best solution to your math assignment that you just cannot get right. Smoothies are good too, though–any fruit you have (frozen bananas/berries, kiwi, oranges, peaches, whatever you have) along with maybe some yogurt, juice, almond milk or coconut water just chucked into a blender and whizzed into thick, creamy, luscious and chilled perfection. And frozen bananas are the best treat ever–addicting in their creamy frosty ice-cream like melt.

I’m obviously very well versed in snacking. Don’t ask me how.

At any rate, these were amazing. The cookie dough balls are crumbly, nutty, buttery; they have the rich squidgy softness of cookie dough that we all love, flavored with the slightest floral fragrance of vanilla bean paste, and filled with chunks of chocolate. What more can you ask for? And of such an effecient pop-in-mouth fit too. The brownie coconut ones are dark, indulgent, almost creamy in their velvety smooth silkiness; and the coating of coconut allows for a tropical, raspy grit of texture. They nestle perfectly in your palm, and in your mouth too.

I do know that coconut flour isn’t the most universally available ingredient, but it’s well worth the investment. Full of healthy fibre and containing a quota of the rich healthy coconut fat, it adds a beautiful fluffiness and height of thickness to whatever you choose to put it in. It lends the most amazing texture–soft and crumbly–and also a slight coconut flavor. If you don’t like coconut, fret not–it’s entirely undetectable, unless you have a completely unflavored bake. And it’s one of my secret pancake making weapons–these babies make the tallest pancakes ever.

For these snack balls, coconut flour ensures that a certain level of moisture is retained while still gaining a cookie dough crumbly consistency; and it is absolutely lovely. Do give these a try, should you next find yourself peckish and in desperate need of a hasty hour snack.

 

Cookie Dough and Coconut Brownie Snack Balls

makes 3 of each

For the Cookie Dough Balls

-1.5 tbs coconut flour

-1 tbs yogurt

-1/2 tbs peanut butter

-1/2 tbs coconut sugar/maple syrup

-1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/4 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 to 1 tbs chocolate chips

For the Coconut Brownie Balls

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1 tbs cocoa

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1 tbs yogurt

-1/2 tbs dark chocolate peanut butter

-1/4 tsp instant coffee granules

-1/2 tbs almond milk (or plant based milk)

-1/2 tbs coconut sugar/maple syrup

-1 to 2 tbs dessicated coconut to roll them in (optional)

Mix the ingredients for each of the balls together in a bowl.  The absorbency of coconut flour depends on the brand, so if the mixture is too dry feel free to add more almond milk–you should get a slightly tacky, smooth dough. Roll the mix into three balls for each flavor and knead in chocolate chips for the cookie dough and roll in coconut for the brownie flavor. You could eat this instantly, or chill before serving.

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Buckwheat Double Chocolate Pancakes+Frothy Cacao Caramel Almond Mylk

Hey friends! It’s got to be a short one today because I have a ton of Chinese and Math to do and stress over…but honestly, I can’t complain. 2015 has been brilliant for me so far. Not that I’ve soared along the air gathering stars and positive events left right like a Mario game on whack, but that each day has been quietly infused with blessings and so many things to be thankful for. Maybe I’m just starting to realise their presence and they’ve been here all along, or maybe 2015 really is off to a nice start–but at any rate, I’m glad. If you follow my Instagram you’d see that I have made a jar out of the massacred cute animal calendar Instagram was kind enough to gift me as a New Year’s present, and that everyday I relentlessly rip out a cute pooch/cute cat and write down everything I’m thankful for on it before folding it up and throwing it into the jar. It used to be a honey jar, but I think what it holds now is much sweeter.

I’ve realised something this year: good days aren’t perfect. Maybe there is that perfect day out there where everything goes right, your hair streams behind you like a shampoo commercial as you walk and sunlight hits your face at those movie-cinematography-chic angles, you score full marks on your test and strike the lottery and find out that your crush, indeed, has been loving you all this while and make a perfect pancake stack to end off your beautiful, perfect, awesome, flawless day with a beautiful, perfect, awesome, flawless meal. But for me at least good days don’t go 100% smoothly–there are always bumps, a little bit of blackness, maybe more than a little bit. It’s whatever makes it a good day that counts though, and manages to quash or at least matter more than the bad things that might’ve happened.

I’m honestly beyond grateful. I’ll work hard this year, study hard, do the best I can. I’ve been blessed with a lot and sometimes I forget that, but I’m determined to show that I won’t take everything I have for granted anymore.

 

This stack was taken as my second Pancake Sunday of 2015! Now I don’t have pancakes for breakfast anymore–these were a lovely lunch because I’ve devoted my mornings to church. Thanks to some friends, I’ve started going to church. It was scary at first, but there was something about singing worship and giving thanks and praise in a group that I’d missed so much. In a strange way, it was oddly familiar and foreign–but it felt like going home.

Buckwheat double chocolate pancakes–these fluffy babies are studded with pockets of oozing, sticky dark chocolate and made with the gritty dark but fragrant and nutty buckwheat flour. They rise beautifully when flipped to reveal a soft crumb infused with the rich flavor of chocolate and gently molten chocolate, with the golden spiciness of cinnamon in the background. I had them with a mound of peanut butter as usual, and a jar of frothy cacao-caramel almond mylk. I’ve had soy milk for the most of my life and had only recently tried almond milk in Sapporo of all places–and I love it. I whizzed this up in my blender to produce a caramelly-sweet frosted glass of thick, silky, chocolaty velvet mylk; rich and smooth and luxuriously decadent despite the short ingredient list, and with an incredible cap of soft creamy foam that gave an impressive milk moustache.

 

Buckwheat Double Chocolate Pancakes+Frothy Cacao Caramel Almond Mylk

You will need:

For the pancakes

-1/4 cup buckwheat flour

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1 tbs rice flour/oat flour

-1 tbs cocoa/carob/cacao

-1/2 tbs Purple Balance Sweet Chocolate (optional but recommended)

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

-2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax seeds+6 tbs water left overnight, or at least 30min)

-1 large banana, mashed

-130-150ml almond milk

-1 tbs maple syrup/coconut sugar/rice syrup

-dark chocolate, chopped (as much as you wish)

In a small bowl, mix together your dry ingredients. In a larger bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together till combined before adding the dry ingredients. Mix till just forming a thick pancake batter, adding a little bit more milk if you like thinner pancakes. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate, and let rest for 5 minutes while heating a pan on low heat. Once the pan is just hot enough such that a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact, grease with coconut oil/grapeseed oil and dollop on your pancake batter. Cook pancakes till edges dull and turn opaque and bubbles form in the centre before flipping and cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and continue the process until the batter is done.

For the mylk

-240ml almond milk, unsweetened

-2-3 ice cubes or frozen banana chunks (optional)

-1 tbs date paste, or 2 soft and gooey medjool dates (or maple syrup/coconut sugar/rice syrup)

-1/2 tbs Purple Balance Sweet Chocolate (optional but recommended)

-1/2 tbs cacao

-few shakes cinnamon

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)

-1 tsp maca (I use Organic Burst)

Blend all ingredients together in a blender for 1-2 minutes until thick and frothy. Pour into a chilled glass and serve.

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