Have your (FODMAP friendly) cake & eat it too: My favourite sweet treats for the digestively challenged :)

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

With that in mind, last night I made my return to Laneway Learning to teach another class.

Laneway Learning

As I wrote yesterday, when I feel myself falling, I make myself busy, and teaching this class was one of the things I decided to busy myself with. I’m also a masochist and try my best to face my fears – teaching my first class with Laneway Learning was SO scary for me (a depressive, anxious introvert with very little self-confidence trying to run a class full of strangers!), but getting through it was pretty rewarding, and everyone was so nice and kind and supportive 🙂 You can read a little more about what they do here, but in a nutshell, Laneway Learning is an amazing little organisation in cities around the world offering classes taught by every day people on subjects they’re passionate about, at a low cost in order to make learning fun and accessible.

IMG_2760-1

When I contacted Laneway Learning about teaching this class, it was at a point where I was getting pretty frustrated with the lack of information available on whole FODMAP issue (see my open letter to crappy doctors for more on that); I’m one of the lucky ones with a background and degree in exercise science and nutrition, so I had a bit of a head start in creating recipes to suit the low FODMAP  guidelines, but I know that not everyone has that advantage. And the hardest part for most people is the desserts and sweets aspect of it all – low FODMAP treats can be a little difficult to navigate to start off with! So I contacted the team at Laneway Learning with a proposal to take a class to help navigate through some of the more frustrating aspects of the low FODMAP diet and ways around the restrictions to still be able to enjoy food!

polenta cake drops 2

I won’t rehash what we went through on the night (and frankly it was a bit of a tough class with numerous technical difficulties!), but instead I thought I’d give everyone a quick list of some of the low FODMAP friendly sweet recipes I’ve posted on my blog lately – because you should still be able to have your cake and eat it too, even if your stomach hates you!!

# Bliss balls
# Cacao, goji berry & chia seed cake drops
# Chocolate microwave cake
# Hazelnut, coconut & dark chocolate biscuits
# Healthy peanut butter cookies
# Orange, polenta & cacao cake drops
# Peanut butter oat slice
# Zucchini chocolate chip cake

zucchini cake 3

Stay tuned for a seriously amazing, seriously chocolatey cake later in the week that we can add to the list, but lovely readers, if any of you have some FODMAP friendly recipes you’ve created and would like to share, please add them to the comments below! I’m always looking for new treats to try 🙂

Advertisements

Zomato/Urbanspoon blogger meet up at SUPERNORMAL (Eat here. Seriously.)

asd

Thanks for the re-gram @zomatoaus – awesome shot and a great night!

Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Zomato Melbourne crew and a handful of other bloggers. You may have read that Zomato recently acquired Urbanspoon and they’ve recognised the big role bloggers have been playing in making Urbanspoon as successful and popular as it is, leading them to host their very first Zomato Meetup for some of the busier Melbourne food bloggers. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to have been invited along, particularly when I found out Supernormal were going to be hosting us!

Before I cut back to the awesome night we had, let me focus on Supernormal for a bit. This is the latest success in the seemingly endless string of greatest hits from Andrew McConnell – even if you don’t recognise his name, you’ll no doubt recognise the names of at least one of his restaurants: Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc, Luxembourg Bar & Bistro… the guy really knows his stuff.  I’ve walked past Supernormal so many times I’ve lost count, always drawn by the neon red sign in the front window, but still hadn’t visited. It didn’t take long after walking through the front door to realize that the hype was warranted.

We were greeted with an epic banquet menu, which, needless to say, was enough to get a table full of food bloggers more than a little excited. After that, the night looked a little something like this…

 

IMG_7621

– Cucumber & wakame pickle
– Seaweed cracker with kingfish & pickled fennel
– Grilled baby corn with miso butter

These were great to start, and I think everyone fell a little bit in love with the miso butter on the baby corn. Indulgent, heavenly deliciousness.

 

IMG_7622
– Bonito, avocado, cucumber & wakame
– New England lobster roll

Do you have any idea how hard it is to shut a table of food bloggers up? Apparently not as hard as I thought – just put a few platters of those lobster rolls out. They were that elusive sandwich that can stop the chatter of 15 people, who decide they need to devote their full attention to eating for a moment. Amazing. And we found out that you can get these guys as a take away – work lunch breaks just got a little bit more exciting if you’re in the CBD! I’m a huge tuna lover, so I adored that dish, too – buttery soft, so very good.

 

IMG_7623

– Smoked beef, mustard leaf, clam mayonnaise (top left)
– Pork bao with tamarind sauce (top right)
– Prawn and chicken dumplings with chilli and vinegar sauce

The smoked beef was the surprise package of the dinner – we were instructed, after photos were taken of course, to just mush it all together in order to experience the flavours fully. It looked like a hot mess when we were done, and tasted better than anything I could have possibly imagined. How clam mayonnaise not only works but is something I was ready to lick off the plate is beyond me. The fried shallots with the soft beef were magic. I absolutely loved this one, and it’s a dish I’d love to order again. As was the bao – oh my… pulled pork in a crumbed, fried package in the softest little bun.. not really sure there’s much else to say about this one other than make sure it’s on your order when you visit!

 

IMG_7612
– Slow cooked Szechuan lamb, spring onion pancake and coriander paste with steamed white rice and an iceberg salad with ginger vinaigrette & mint

Not being a “spicy food” person, I was a little worried about this one, but my concerns were completely unfounded. The spice levels were more peppery than pure spice, so don’t be scared if you’re a chilli wuss like me! The lamb was magnificent – slow cooked, fall apart on your fork, tender juicy perfection. The pancakes were crispy, the coriander paste was fantastic, and the salad was the perfect way to refresh yourself from the heat of the lamb. Brilliant dish to share around a table of friends.

 

IMG_7615

IMG_7618
– Peanut butter parfait with salter caramel and soft chocolate
– Plum and green tea soft serve ice cream

If there’s a better way to finish a meal, I’m neither familiar with it, nor am I particularly interested in it. The parfait was everything you dream it’d be – rich, thick, super-smooth and creamy. It’s basically a sexier, ice creamier version of a Snickers, but still better than you’re imagining. It’s worth visiting Supernormal just for this. Honestly. And just when we were all ready to burst, the soft serve cups arrived. They were the exact way we all wanted to finish the meal without realising it; fresh, crisp, clean, sweet without being crazy sugary like the parfait. The sharp plum sat perfectly with the gentler green tea, and when you order this, dig deep into the cup for a little surprise!

I have to say a HUGE thanks to the team at Supernormal for an absolutely incredible experience. We had the most attentive team at our service, no glass was ever empty and no question unanswered. We were asked at the beginning of the night if there were any allergies, preferences, what not – my main concern was the heat factor from the chilli. The lovely lady looking after these requests went out of her way to explain the menu as it could be modified for me, to ensure I’d still get maximum flavour and meal enjoyment without burning my tongue off. She could have just said “no worries, we’ll put the spicy stuff on the side for you” and been done with it, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the extra few minutes she took to talk me through it all instead. It’s these things that take it from a nice dinner to an experience you’re going to remember and talk about for a long time to come.

We were also sent off by the Supernormal team with little goodie bags containing, among other things, a box of Pocky (!!!!!!!!!) and a jar of their amazing toasted pepitas which we started to night on and a “goodnight, thanks for coming!” from everyone I passed on my way from the table to the door. You guys are absolutely amazing, thank you for looking after us so well!

 

And another big thank you has to go to Pranav and the team at Zomato – they’ve been working superhumanly hard to get the integration and re-launch ready to go, and they’ve still been making time to speak to local bloggers to get their input. It’s so refreshing and so nice to have a big company take things to such a personal level, and to actually genuinely value the input and opinions of the people who are using their products every day. It was also so much fun to be able to finally put some faces to names of blogs I read so often and talk food and travel with a bunch of people who are also interested in all of that! And great to be able to have a table of equally patient diners who get that the photos must be taken before the digging in commences; we all love our family and friends, but they just don’t get it! Thanks for a fun night guys, looking forward to big things from both Zomato and all of the bloggers who took part last night:

Sheena and Thomas from Chasing A Plate

Paul from The City Lane

Winston from The Hungry Excavator

Cass from Hungry Cookie

Tian from Eating Diaries

And apologies to those I’ve missed from either forgetfulness or not being able to get around to everyone last night – if you’re reading this please let me know so I can put you on the list too!

 

Supernormal on Urbanspoon

 

 

Disclosure: I was generously invited by Zomato to dine as a guest at Supernormal, however the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience.

Cook this: peanut butter granola using home made PB!

Ahhh oats.. my favourite breakfast food. In just about any form. I love muesli. And overnight oats. And porridge. And desserts. They’re the best. After a super delicious breaky at Manchester Press (ADD LINK!!) recently where I had an absolute killer jar of coconut chia pudding with raspberries and granola, I figured I could make breakfast that fancy every morning, if I wanted to! So, I made some pretty easy and not-all-that-bad-for-you granola, in the peanut butter and chocolate theme that I love so much. But, healthier! For a start, I used home made peanut butter instead of store bought stuff…

Did anyone else realise how ridiculously easy it was to make your own peanut butter??! I’m not sure how I didn’t work this out earlier, but given the popularity of peanut butter in this house and the cost of it and the stupid amount of peanut butter jars I’m accumulating, I think this is the way to do it from now on!

IMG_6864

Easy as hell – I poured about 3 cups of salted, toasted peanuts into a food processor, along with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and processed until it came together into a soft peanut buttery paste (around 5 or 6 minutes). That’s it. Home made peanut butter, that simple. You can also add a little cocoa powder to it if you wanna make it a chocolate peanut butter thing. Or coconut oil instead of a neutral oil. Or bits of hazelnut. Whatever, go nuts. Hahahaha pun wasn’t intended, but now that it’s there, I kinda like it, so it stays!

Anyway, once you have the PB, the granola is pretty easy, and you only need half an hour out of your upcoming weekend to make it…

IMG_6871

– 3 cups rolled oats
– 100g peanut butter
– 50g honey
-⅓ cup shredded coconut
-¼ cup raw cacao nibs
-¼ cup sunflower seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with paper.
2. Put 2½ cups of the oats in a large mixing bowl.
3. Combine the PB and honey in a small bowl, microwave for around 15-20 seconds, then pour it into the oats and stir well to combine – you may want to use your hands to work it through evenly.
4. Pour the oats onto the oven tray and bake for 10 minutes, checking every 2 or 3 minutes to toss the oats around, ensuring they bake evenly.
5. After 10 minutes, take the tray out of the oven and mix through the coconut, nibs and sunflower seeds, back into the over for another 10 minutes, and keep an eye on it – it’s a very quick transition from golden brown to burnt!
6. Take the oats out of the oven, cool to room temperature and mix through the remaining ½ cup of raw oats. Store in an air-tight container for up to 10 days (as if it’s going to last that long!).

 

Eat here: Another Kind of Sunrise, LA (breakfast/healthy)

Another Kind of Sunrise
1629 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice Beach, LA
http://www.anotherkindofsunrise.com/

IMG_5844

FRIIIIDAYYY!!! Woooo! I love weekends! I also really love breakfast. I’d give up this weekend to be back in LA for a morning to enjoy breakfast at Another Kind of Sunrise…

This place is a gorgeous little cafe tucked away on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach. It’s been around for a little while now, and it’s got a great following – Chef Lela Buttery has set up an amazing menu catering to the health-conscious locals, full of organic, environmentally friendly and locally sourced ingredients.

There’s something for everyone, with gluten free muffins, paleo granola, and a great range of tea with almond and soy milks available – that last point may not mean much to you, but after 6 weeks in America, this was one of the ONLY places offering lactose free milk alternatives! But that’s another story…

Anyway, I went with a little bowl of heaven, the Peanut Butter Cup..

IMG_4661.JPG

Peanut butter puffs, cocoa crispies, peanut butter and cacao nibs (USD$5.00). You also get your choice of milk to go in there, but I hate soggy cereal, so the lovely lady helping me out gave me some extra peanut butter instead – happy! It was a deceptively enormous bowl, so if you’re after a good breakfast in the area, $5 is keeping you full for the best part of the day! There’s also heaps of great shopping around, so grab yourself a breaky bowl and work it off walking Abbot Kinney and carrying your shopping bags around 🙂

Cook this: 3 ingredient Chia Berry Jam (and PB&J overnight oats)

You know how they say that necessity is the mother of invention? That’s how we came to this recipe.

IMG_4046.JPG

I have a serious overnight oats obsession. It’s a crazy easy breakfast, can be really healthy if you do it properly, and can be easily customised to your tastes. I’ve posted an easy coconut blueberry overnight oat combo that I’m a big fan of, but after a reaaaalllly delicious PB&J donut I had at Shortstop not long ago, I decided to get a bit more creative with my oats.

So, the necessity was a healthy way to do PB&J overnight oats. Regular jam was out of the question, because it’s pretty much just pure sugar. I thought about using chia seeds in the jam instead of mixed in with the oats like I did with the blueberry coconut version; they expand and jell really well, which I thought would eliminate the need for as much sugar. I looked at a few other chia jam recipes online, but a lot of them were still pretty sugar heavy, or used a heap of honey, which I don’t really enjoy in large amounts. I played around with it, and think I’ve nailed a version that I really like now – it only needs 3 ingredients, takes a few minutes to put together, and isn’t horribly bad for you! Which means PB&J overnight oats became a more legitimate breakfast option!

Jam first – in terms of how much it makes, one batch fills an empty Mayvers Peanut Butter jar (because that’s my favourite peanut butter and I have an insane amount of empty jars at home because I eat so much of it!) which holds around 375g of PB. You’ll need:
– 2 cups frozen berries of your choice (I like raspberries)
– 2 scant tbsp caster sugar
– 3 tbsp chia seeds

1. Put the frozen berries into a small saucepan (no need to defrost first) with ¼ cup of water and the sugar, and set it over medium-high heat.

2. Keep stirring the berries as they start to defrost and go to mush. Once the berries get soft and watery and the mixture starts to bubble, let it simmer for 3 – 4 minutes, still stirring.

3. Take the saucepan off the heat, and add in the chia seeds. Optional – you can also add in a little vanilla extract here, too – just gives it a really nice, smooth flavour. Then let it just sit for 5 minutes.

4. After a quick rest, carefully spoon the jam into a clean jar, sit it for another 5 minutes, then put on the lid and pop it in the fridge. That’s it, simple! Just remember that this jam won’t keep for ages, because it doesn’t have a ton of sugar. That shouldn’t be a problem, though – it tastes too good to ignore!

 

THEN, you want to be using this stuff in the best breakfast ever – healthy PB&J overnight oats! To make one serving of heaven in a jar:
– 50g rolled oats
– ⅓ cup milk of choice (I use soy milk, almond milk actually also works really good in this!)
– 2 tbsp chia jam
– 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (I use Mayvers because it’s the best!)

Ready for the easiest “recipe” ever?

Put everything in a jar. Shake well to combine. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy.

IMG_4049.PNG

Eat here: Shortstop Coffee & Donuts, Melbourne

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts
http://www.short-stop.com.au/

IMG_3370.JPG

There has been a LOT of hype about this place. They’ve been teasing the city of Melbourne for literally months on Instagram, it’s been spoken about in every hot magazine and written about on every foodie/lifestyle website around, and the lines can take a while to get to the front of, if they haven’t sold our first. The brain child of Anthony Ivey and partner Sinye Ooi, these donuts are the product of 12 months of working on their craft, after travelling around America and Canada “researching” (read: eating) donuts. Oh, to be doing what those kids did (actually, I will be doing that in a few months… WOO!)…

IMG_3369.JPG

Anyway, I’d been curious about these puppies for a while, but, to be completely honest, couldn’t really be bothered walking all that way across the city from my work offices to pay $5 for a donut, that may have been sold out by the time I got there. First world problems, I know, I’m hanging my head in shame as I type this.

Last week, curiosity for the better of me, and I decided to spend my lunch break productively; walking 20 minutes (in heels, idiot!) to the other side of the city to purchase some donuts to bring home to the husband. I got there around 2pm mid-week, and to my happy surprise, found only 4 people in line in front of me! Not bad, considering what I’d heard!

To my greater joy, nothing was sold out at that stage, so I had my pick of the bunch! I went, from left to right, a peanut butter and jam, a bourbon creme brulee, and an earl grey and rose. I have to mention here a big apology to Terri at littlewanderings.com – I found out via Instagram that we actually must have JUST missed each other at Shortstop by a matter of minutes, when she posted that she was told they’d just sold out of the bourbon creme brulee a few minutes before her order – a post that popped up on Instagram a few minutes after I left with my donuts! Sorry if that was me who took the last donut Terri!!!

IMG_3368.JPG

Anyway, the donuts. They weren’t cheap at 3 for $14.50, but my goodness they were good! The earl grey was well glazed and had a nice flavour, but not as strong as I’d have thought.

The bourbon creme brulee was fantastic, and the cream filling actually tasted like bourbon!!! Very, very strongly too – a few of these and you wouldn’t be driving home! The dough itself was soft too, but thick enough to hold it all. The burnt sugar brulee top was lovely too, not too burnt or overpowering for the filling.

The PB&J was my personal favourite – the frosting tasted like ACTUAL peanut butter, and that home made jam was something else… so good! I’d just about walk the 40 minute round trip again just for one of those!! Top marks!

IMG_3387.JPG

Oh, and they do coffee too – apparently it’s very good, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so you’ll just have to take everyone else’s word for it! If you’re in the city, don’t be too discouraged by the potential for long lines. Yeah,I guess they’re designer donuts and they’re gonna cost you a bit, but they’re good enough to justify it every now and then! Oh, and if you wanna go a bit nuts and order a few, you can actually pre-order online, which means you can skip the line and the potential “sold out” heart break! Get on Shortstop people, they make a mean donut!

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts on Urbanspoon

Cook this: Breakfast – chocolate & peanut butter porridge! (gluten free, low FODMAPs)

Thanks for re-visiting Vietnam with me over the past few days 🙂 I’m heading back to the real world for the weekend and thought I’d share something that I’m obsessed with, yet haven’t actually blogged about yet: breakfast!

I don’t understand non-breakfast people. How anyone can operate on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is utterly and completely beyond me. Maybe it’s that I’m a crappy sleeper, and 5 interrupted hours is a good night. Maybe it’s that I get up at 5.45am almost every morning to workout before work. Maybe it’s just that I’m Italian, so food is a big thing. But I cannot physically leave the house in the morning to face the day without eating breakfast.

IMG_2844.JPG

My weapon of choice is (and has been for a long time now) oats. I’ve been known to make my own muesli, and recently got completely addicted to the overnight oats thing. I thought I’d have a change for a week or two though, and go back to making my own porridge each morning, which is actually no where near as difficult or time consuming as it sounds. If you want to make this really easy, do as I do and combine all your dry ingredients in a jar or tub the night before, so you can just tip it all in the saucepan with the milk in the morning without having to worry about spending time measuring it all out!

I love to play around with different flavours with both porridge and overnight oats; some favourite combos have been pistachio, fig & honey, raspberry & coconut, and chocolate, vanilla & almonds. This time, I decided it had to be my good old favourite – chocolate and peanut butter. If there’s a better combination of foods in the world, I don’t believe you, nor am I interested.

To make a most spectacular breakfast for one, you’ll need…
– ½ cup oats (wheat free, if you want to keep it low FODMAPs)
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– ½ tsp cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder if you prefer)
– 1 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
– 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
– 1 tsp cacao nibs (or chocolate chips!)

1. Combine the oats, chia seeds, cocoa powder & milk in a small saucepan over high heat.
2. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly until your porridge is at your preferred consistency – mine usually takes around 3-4 minutes of simmering.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir through the peanut butter. Pour it into a bowl and top wth cacao nibs and/or anything else you want! Enjoy 🙂