Mango and Lime Lassi

Waking up to a hot summer’s morning can leave you lacking in appetite. Something about the warm weather and the blazing sun can be enough to put you off spending time in the kitchen altogether, let alone cooking eggs on the stove top.

Smoothies and lassis are one of my favourite breakfasts and afternoon snacks during these warm months. They are quick and easy to make, plus delicious and nutritious when you choose your ingredients mindfully!

Traditionally, a lassi is a savoury yoghurt-based drink popular in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Around the world, fruit such as mango and plums have been added to sweeten lassis, making them a delicious treat.

In my eyes, any recipe involving yoghurt (plain and unflavoured) is a winner. Not only is yoghurt delicious, creamy and filling, but it is a great source of protein, calcium and probiotics. I love it and use it daily, particularly to make tzatziki. When making a pavlova, I tend to substitute some of the cream with lovely thick Greek yoghurt, giving the dessert a delicious tang.

A recent study by the School of Public Health at Harvard University found that eating yoghurt daily may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. So grab a spoon, and whip up this mango and lime lassi the next time you need a morning cool down! Remember to always go for unsweetened yoghurts, and add fruit to them yourselves. My favourites include: this one, this one and Margaret River Creamy Pot Set Greek Yoghurt.

Mango and Lime Lassi

Summer Lassi with Mango & Lime
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 x ripe mango, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup natural yoghurt (I love this one, and it’s easy to find at the supermarket)
1/4 cup cow’s milk, nut milk, or coconut water
1/2 frozen banana (approx. 50gm), sliced
Juice of 1 x lime
A good grating of lime zest

To Serve
Freshly grated lime zest
Ice! To cool you down on a hot summer’s day…

Directions
1. Simply add all ingredients to your blender, and blend until smooth!
2. If you like less of a ‘lassi’, and more of a smoothie (i.e less thick!) add additional milk/coconut water until you reach the ideal consistency.

To Serve
Pour lassi into two glasses, over ice. Grate some fresh lime zest onto each, and sip on it while sitting out the back on a warm January morning!

Summer Lassi with Mango and Lime

November and December have been busy months for me – sitting exams, a trip to Melbourne, finishing up at my job, and Christmas! Phew, lots of hard work, but I’ve been rewarded with good times. I hope you have had a lovely holiday break so far, full of family, friends and of course, good food.

* Why not spend 36 hours in Athens? You may just fall in love…
* Could meditation really change you at a cellular level?
* Need some whole food eating inspiration? Here are 10 foods worth putting on your plate every day
* Wouldn’t it be awesome to take a free course in ‘Introduction to Sustainable Development’ taught by Columbia Univeristy?
* Or, why not take an online course in ‘Child Nutrition and Cooking’ taught by Stanford University? Free of course!
* There is an abundance of information out there about saturated fats. Check out this article to help you get your head around them
* Buy pretty sandals from these guys, and some of your $$ will go towards bee research
* An allergy-free guide to eating out in Melbourne
* Check out this updated list of the top 100 places to eat and drink in WA. Has anyone had coffee at Bossmans? I’ve been hanging out to try it!
* Sparkles and New Year’s Eve go hand in hand

Mango and Lime Lassi

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I love this time at the end of each year, when all the festivities begin and you can feel the joyful vibe resonate throughout the city. Plus, I LOVE giving gifts! The sound of wrapping paper, the smell of pine trees, and the excitement you get when you stumble across a present that is just perfect for someone you know. When you’re stuck though, and nothing gift-worthy catches your eye, buying presents just for the sake of it is a joy kill. Not to mention wasteful. This year my mind has been a-buzzing with ideas, so I thought I would share some of them with you. Below you’ll find some ideas for the special people in your life, particularly those who love all things food, travel, wellness and nature.

Heirloom Seedlings from littleveggiepatchco.com.au

Images via The Little Veggie Patch Co.

These heirloom seeds from The Little Veggie Patch Co are sure to grow delicious and wholesome fruit and veg. As a bonus the vintage style packaging is beautiful! At just $5 a pack, top them off with a copy of ‘Eating on the Wild Side’ (snap it up from your local independent bookstore) for the perfect gift for the natural food lover.

For tea and coffee lovers, why not indulge them in something a little bit fancy, that they wouldn’t normally spend money on themselves? For the home brewer who shuns an espresso machine, look for Chemex, Syphons and Aeropresses. Visit neighbourhood coffee houses for beans roasted locally, or order delicious beans online from Padre Coffee. For those more tea-inclined, I’ve been eyeing off these T2 jugs, perfect for iced tea concoctions, since last year.

Have a friend that loves eating seasonally but could be a tad more organised? The 2015 Foodies’ Diary is just what they need. I’ve just bought a copy for myself and trust me, it’s beautiful. Not only does it list all the fruit and veg that are in season for each month in Australia, but there is a delish sounding recipe for every week of the year (using seasonal ingredients, of course!).

Totin' a Taluuma Tote

Image via Taaluuma Totes

Reusable bags are so much better than plastic, and these two are both pretty and functional: the Kikki-K Market Tote Bag, and the Apolis Market Bag. Better yet, keep it local and buy an eco friendly shopping bag from your neighbourhood farmers’ market. Most sell for around $5 – $10. For the world traveller who needs something bigger, Taaluuma Totes make ethical and gorgeous backpacks using traditional fabric from all over the world. 20% of profit is given back to the country from which the fabric was sourced, and the functional bags are hand made in the States by adults living with disabilities. With recycled coffee bean bags being used to make the burlap and pocket on your tote, no two bags are alike and you can be sure yours is unique. What more could you ask for?

Reid Cycles Vintage Ladies' Bike

Image via yen mag

Reid Cycles do vintage inspired bicycles at incredibly reasonable prices. For my 27th birthday a couple of months back, Kostas gifted me with a beautiful 7 speed bike in ‘Baby Blue’ – currently on sale for $249. You can also add a wicker basket with a pretty fabric lining for a little extra. Such a lovely gift to receive.

For those looking to spend a little less $$, don’t fret. Some of the best gifts don’t cost much at all, and it is the time and thought behind them that make them special. Whip up some homemade granola (recipe here!) and collect pretty glass jars to fill. Finish them off with pretty ribbon and a hand written label for a more personal touch. If you don’t have time to spend in the kitchen, kikki.K have some lovely bits and pieces plus a great online discount until Sunday. I’m currently lusting after these bowls, this jug, and this mug (below).

Mug and Saucer from kikki.K

Image via kikki.K

A DVD boxset of a great show will always be well received. My top picks include Danish dramas Borgen, The Killing, and The Bridge. Great for both guys and girls. Ditto for cookbooks, and you can check out my 5 favourites here. For those who are WA based, check out Beaufort Street Books for one of the most comprehensive cookbook collections in Perth.

Apart from DVDs and books, boys can be a tricky bunch to buy for. Chances are, they buy what they need when and if they actually need it. The key is to go for gifts that have a fun/cool/interesting factor while also being functional. Here are my top picks from Etsy to inspire you! (note: these suppliers ship to Australia, but may be based overseas.)

A Cup of Coconut's 2014 Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Men

From left to right:
1. Natural wood interlocking wine rack, $55. Available HERE
2. Wild Man Beard Care Gift Set, $44. Available HERE
3. Personalized hand stitched leather camera strap, $73. Available HERE
4. Handmade wooden iPhone stand, $19. Available HERE
5. Personalized Handmade Copper Guitar Pick, $24. Available HERE
6. Breaking Bad Bamboo Cutting Board, $37. Available HERE
7. Handmade Wooden Ultimate BBQ Cleaning Tool, $25. Available HERE
8. World’s Okayest Brother T-Shirt, $21. Available HERE
9. Catchall™ Valet Stand: Charging Dock and More, $47. Available HERE

If you’re still stuck for ideas, all is not lost. Why not skip the gifts this year, and put your money towards a group getaway, or a cause you feel strongly about. Alternatively, check out the links below!

Perth Fringe World Festival 2015
Gift ideas for….
* The Performance and Comedy Enthusiast: Hop to the Perth Fringe World site to buy tickets or gift certificates for the 2015 Fringe Festival
* The Natural Beauty Lover: Check out Nourished Life to buy ethical products online
* The Yogi: Look into gift certificates for classes and workshops Tip: if you’re in Perth, Yoga Alchemy have a comprehensive timetable for 2015
* The Epicurean: Give the gift of cooking classes with The Cooking Professor, or Sarogini’s Sri Lankan workshops, both based in Perth

I very much hope this will give you a place to start with the somewhat overwhelming task of holiday gift buying!

Happy shopping everyone x

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5 Cookbooks I Can't Live Without

There are few things as relaxing as having the time to curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a good book. I’ve always loved to read, and I was fortunate to grow up in a house surrounded by books. I can lose myself for hours, especially with cookbooks. Even now, our house is creaking under the weight of our growing recipe book collection. Above the fridge we have neat wooden shelves, jam packed with hardbacks and paperbacks, old and new, featuring cuisines from all over. Jamie Oliver squeezed in next to Rick Stein; Margaret Fulton cozying up with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

There are just so many cookbooks that I love, and could rave on and on about! Some are practical and great for everyday cooking, others are just a joy to look at, full of beautiful photographs and engaging stories. Here are a glance at my top 5, all of which are practical, wholefood based, delicious and easy on the eye. Bon appétit!

1. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Everything about ‘Jerusalem’ is fantastic, and it is my go-to choice for when I fancy trying something new, especially if I’ve invited friends or family over for dinner. The recipes are complex in flavour, yet simple in ingredients and method. The result is incredibly delicious, wholesome and authentic. Unlike Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ and ‘Plenty More’, ‘Jerusalem’ features meat and fish recipes, along with a plethora of veg based dishes and desserts.

My top picks: Chicken with Cardamon Rice and Tahini Cookies

2. My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway
Emma’s book is a real treat, featuring 100 vegetarian and gluten-free recipes. Originally from New Zealand, Emma now lives in WA and writes regularly over at her enormously popular blog of the same name, My Darling Lemon Thyme. I love the short intro Emma provides at the beginning of each recipe, possibly as I am nosy and love to know the story behind how each recipe came to be!

My top picks: Plum & Rosewater Lassi, Gluten-Free Pizza with Chilli Greens, Bocconcini & Olive Salsa, and Chocolate Avocado Tart

My Darling Lemon Thyme

3. The 20/20 Diet Cookbook by Lola Berry
At first glance you may think Lola’s book is promoting a fad diet of sorts, but don’t let the title fool you! It is in fact jam packed with delicious wholefood recipes that are rich in flavour, colour and seasonal ingredients. A qualified nutritionist, Lola has a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine from Endeavour. Her collection of recipes are gluten, wheat and sugar-free, but are certainly not lacking in depth of flavour or nutritional value. Keep an eye out for her second cookbook, due to be published in 2015!

My top picks: Kangaroo Steaks with Mango & Avocado Salsa, Tahini Bites, and Raw Rose & Raspberry Tart

Lola Berry's 20/20 Diet Cookbook

4. A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones
This is a new addition to my collection, but I was not wrong in anticipating that it would become a fast favourite. Trained by Jamie Oliver in London, this first cookbook by Brit Anna features a modern take on vegetarian cooking. Showcasing various grains, seasonal veg, and nuts and seeds, Anna has created a truly beautiful book of nourishing recipes that are as delicious as the photographs are stunning. Intrigued? Get to know Anna a bit better via this great interview.

My top picks: Warm Salad of Roasted Kale, Coconut & Tomatoes, and Pan-dressed Noodles with Crunchy Cabbage & Crispy Tofu

Anna's A Modern Way to Eat

5. Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver
A man that clearly needs no introduction, Jamie is the king of keeping it real, quick, easy and delicious. This book in particular is a real winner, and I knew I had to snap it up after watching just one episode of Save with Jamie on TV. Everything he made in that one episode was fresh, cheap and nutritious…and it looked mighty tasty! I was not disappointed when I got my hands on the book, and if I give you just one piece of advice, it is to make his healthy coleslaw, using yoghurt instead of mayo! Deliciousness.

My top picks: Chicken Chorizo Paella and Salmon Tacos with Avocado & Homemade Pickle

I hope these provide a little inspiration if you find yourself in a cooking rut! Now do tell, what cookbooks have you been loving recently?

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Poached Eggs & Greens on Toast

It’s so satisfying to cook up something delicious from the lovely ingredients you’ve just bought that very morning. Earlier today, we headed to our local market and soaked up the morning sun while perusing the produce grown by our local farmers. Plump purple tomatoes, half a kilo of strawberries, rainbow coloured carrots, and fresh free range eggs are among the goodies we squeezed into our basket and brought home with us. Not before swinging by Northbridge for Greek φραπέ (iced coffee), of course!

Eggs on toast would have to be one of my favourite breakfast dishes. It’s easy, quick and when done right, feels like a decadent cafe-style breakfast. This is my preferred way of eating eggs; nutritious, tasty and ready in less than 10 minutes! Best of all it gives you the chance to use all those delicious market ingredients while they are still vibrant and fresh.

Poached Eggs & Greens
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 x free range eggs
a dash of vinegar (I use apple cider, but white vinegar is also fine)
4 x slices good quality bread (seeded sourdough is my current favourite), toasted
half tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic (avoid the bleached white stuff from the supermarket, and buy local)
3 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach, washed (it looks like a lot, but I promise it cooks down!)
a handful of cherry tomatoes (for best flavour, use when plump and perfectly red)
1/2 – 1 whole ripe avocado, sliced

Optional, for Seasoning
Squeeze of lemon juice
Sprinkle of sea salt (I buy this lovely pink one, from the Murray River)
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of dried chili flakes

Directions
1. Fill half a medium saucepan with water, cover, and bring to the boil.
2. While waiting for water to boil, in a small saucepan over medium heat gently sautee the garlic in the oil until fragrant.
3. Add the spinach and sautee for a couple of minutes until it has cooked down. Remove from heat and put aside.
4. Once water is boiling, reduce to a low heat and gently (but quickly!) lower four eggs (in their shells) into the water. Leave for no more than 10 seconds, and using a slotted spoon scoop the eggs out and pop to the side.
5. Add a dash of vinegar to the water, and using a wooden spoon, create a clockwise current in the water, so that it is whizzing around in a circular direction.
6. Quickly crack each egg one by one, and gently drop into the water. The clockwise movement of the water will ensure that the egg white doesn’t separate from the yolk.
7. Leave to cook over a low heat, uncovered, until the eggs are poached to your liking, approx. 5 minutes in my case.
8. While eggs are cooking, toast your bread, cut baby tomatoes in half and slice avocado.
9. Layer each piece of toast with 1/8 – 1/4 of an avocado, and squeeze over a little lemon juice and a pinch of dried chili. Spoon 1/4 of the spinach onto each piece, and top with 1/4 of the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
10. When the eggs are perfectly poached, remove with a slotted spoon, allowing any water to run off the egg before placing it on the toast.

To Serve
Grind a little fresh pepper over your eggs, and if you like a bit of kick, add a little more dried chili. You may need a knife and fork to eat this, as if you get excited like I do and use loads of veg, it may be tricky to eat! Enjoy with freshly brewed coffee or a hot cup of tea. A cafe-style breakfast, at a quarter of the cost!

Poached Eggs with Spinach & Avo

In addition to eggs on toast, Greek-style iced coffee and market shopping, here are some other bits and pieces that I’ve been loving this month. Happy November everyone!

* Walking tours are such a great way to see a city. Here are 10 with a twist!
* Would a visual reminder of your daily fruit & veg inspire you to eat more?
* Backpacks that carry a country! My eye is firmly on you, Thailand
* Free meditation course! With exams coming up this is looking pretty tempting…
* It may be from 2011, but this anti drink driving ad from NZ is one of the best I’ve seen
* When did you last wash your makeup brushes? I thought as much! Do it the natural way
* Dainty and pretty tattoos…not an oxymoron!
* I won’t lie, living in Oxford really did feel a little bit magical…
* Science really is great.

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Comforting Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

I’ve felt tired lately. Exhausted. Daydreaming about dreaming. Walking through the door and being ready to throw myself into bed…despite the fact it’s 6pm. It is that time of year I suppose, everybody rushing to meet deadlines before the Christmas break. File end of year reports, study frantically for exams, finalise flight details…it’s all happening.

Being in a prolonged high stress mode does me no favours. I’m not particularly productive, and the effects are palpable. I can tell my body is taking the brunt of my stubborn mindset, and my skin, hair and ability to concentrate are the hardest hit.

A trip down to Margaret River this past weekend did me a whole bunch of good. Getting out of the city, being among the trees, breathing in the country air. I won’t lie; drinking lush wine from the South West certainly is relaxing!

Margaret River

From here on in, I’m going to make a conscious effort to de-stress. Deep breaths, fresh air, all that jazz. Really though, I will cook. Cook and eat. Mostly plants, preferably soup…. Aah soup. Solving life’s problems, one bowl at a time…

Comforting Pumpkin & Coconut Soup
Serves approx. 3-4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion chopped
1/2 red chili thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1kg butternut pumpkin, skin removed and chopped
Approx 750mL stock (I used chicken, veg is also fine)
150 – 200mL coconut milk

Optional ingredients, to serve
1.5 tablespoons coconut flakes
1.5 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Directions
1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and chili and sauté for a few minutes, allowing onion to sweat.
3. Spoon in cinnamon and cumin and stir for a minute or so, keeping it from sticking to the pot.
4. Pop in all the pumpkin, and sauté for a few more minutes.
5. Pour in enough stock to just cover the contents of the pot, approx 750mL in my case.
6. Cover pot and bring to boil. Then reduce to a low heat, and keeping pot covered cook until pumpkin softens, approx 20 mins.
7. Remove from heat and allow pot to cool for 5 minutes, then stir in coconut milk.
8. Once soup ingredients have cooled a little, blend in batches.

To Serve
Toast some coconut flakes and pepitas (pumpkin seeds!) in a small dry saucepan (no oil needed) over medium heat. Keep a close eye on them, and stir them often as they will only take a couple of minutes to toast. Ladle soup into serving bowls, and sprinkle with toasted coconut and pepitas. De-stress food at its best!

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