Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookies

Some of my earliest memories are of making cookies. Four year old Amy standing on a stool watching Mum make her famous chocolate chip cookies after she had put Jessica down for a nap; seven year old Amy and four year old Jess getting their hands dirty rolling dough into balls while making melting moments with Dad from his old Navy cookbook. Staying overnight at our Mormor’s house the scents of a faraway Denmark would be conjured as we made biscuits whose recipes were only carried in Mormor’s memory. As we got older we took over the kitchen in the afternoons and made the classic cookies and biscuits that had become a tradition in our biscuit tin. Perhaps that is why cookies are the first thing I want to cook when I step into the kitchen. When I am sad a batch of chocolate chip cookies is the cure. When I am happy whipping up delicate sandwiched creations are a celebratory experience.

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cookies are a celebration: of Easter, of time with family, and of chocolate and sprinkles and the fact that it’s okay to be frivolous sometimes. These are chewy cookies studded with sweet white chocolate chips and showered with a confetti of coloured sprinkles. The dough is rich with vanilla and almond extracts. One request: remember to chill the dough because this stops the butter from melting as soon as it comes into contact with the heat from the oven and therefore prevents the cookies from spreading too much. It seems like a pain, but really it gives you time to clean the kitchen so that you can enjoy your cookies without having to worry about the dishes. These are also great to make with the little ones. Soon enough they’ll be grown and making them for you!

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookies

Gluten free. Makes at least 24 cookies. I used ‘Dollar Sweets’ Sprinkles because they are gluten free!

If you do not require these to be gluten free you can use a total of 2 cups of plain flour in place of the almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, and sorghum flour.

Ingredients

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 70 grams almond meal
  • 70 grams brown rice flour
  • 75 grams buckwheat flour
  • 75 grams sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup multi-coloured sprinkles
  • 200 grams white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper and set aside until needed.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, vanilla and almond extracts until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
  5. Add flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Stir in sprinkles and chocolate chips until completely distributed.
  6. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Place heaped tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 6cm between the balls of dough as these cookies will spread during cooking.
  8. Once you have used up all the dough return the trays to the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. This is the time to preheat the oven to 160C (320F).
  9. When the oven has heated to the right temperature bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Rotate trays halfway through baking time.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  11. The cookies will keep for four days in an airtight container.

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cookies always feature at our family celebrations. Do you have a family cookie recipe that is handed down through the generations?

Ten Recipes Perfect for Easter Baking

We are planning a quiet Easter weekend filled with family and friends and feasting. Luckily I come from a family of cooks and bakers so I know there will be plenty of delicious dishes filling the tables at whichever house we are at. I am crossing my fingers hoping that my little sister makes her chocolate caramel slice on Saturday night and I know that my Aunt will have a table groaning with salty antipasti, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit and oh so much cheese for Sunday lunch. The most nourishing thing about each of these occasions will be the company surrounding me.

I will be bringing baked goods to these occasions (did you really expect anything else?), so if you are looking for a little inspiration, here are my top ten recipes perfect for Easter baking (and sharing), and come back tomorrow for a quick, cute gluten free cookie recipe that will be welcome in any Easter basket.

Ten: Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake - this bundt is simply stunning displayed as the centerpiece of your Easter brunch.

Nine: Coffee Banana Date Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream  - pack a basket of these and share the happiness.

Banana Cupcakes 1

Eight: Peanut Butter Lindt Ball Filled Chocolate Cakes – a sweet and salty surprise inside!

Seven: Violet Crumble Brownies – oh do make these. Better than a Crunchy Easter egg in my opinion…

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Six: Coconut Blondies (gluten free) – these tummy friendly treats will disappear very quickly, trust me…

Coconut Blondies (gluten free)

Five: Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze (gluten free) – miniature doughnuts perfect for some Easter fun. Try using pastel sprinkles on top!

photo 1 (8)

Four: Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies – not easy to say, but easy to make and super easy to eat!

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Three: Ricadonna Cupcakes with Ricadonna Buttercream – add a little sparkle to your Easter lunch with these bubbly cupcakes!

Ricadonna Cupcakes

Two: Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) – this tall pretty cake looks impressive but is simple to make and the bright cream cheese frosting is worthy of licking the bowl.

photo 1 (5)

One: Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream - dress yourself up in your fanciest Easter bonnet and bring along some fancy cupcakes too!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Plenty of sweet inspiration for your Easter baking. Come back tomorrow for some pastel sweet treats, perfect for last minute baking, or making with kids!

Tell me dear reader, what are you making for Easter? Or have you been cooking up a storm for Passover instead?

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

The Easter Bunny is my spirit animal. I have sound reasoning for this proclamation. Firstly, he eats a balanced diet of carrots and chocolate – totally my style. Secondly, he hops around all the time burning off calories to make room for said chocolate. Thirdly, he shares his chocolate treats with others spreading happiness.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Okay, so maybe it isn’t quite sound reasoning, but I think if you are looking to a beloved holiday creature for guidance you could do worse than the big bunny. Also, if you are looking for a chocolate treat to make and share with your family and friends this Easter weekend you could do worse than these cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cupcakes are here to make your Easter delicious and easy. The crumb is fluffy and moist. The batter comes together easily. If you have school kids at home on holidays these chocolate cupcakes would make a great baking project, with adult supervision of course. If you have really little ones perhaps you could do the beating and the baking and then get them to help with the decorating.  The hidden beauty of these cupcakes is that they are gluten free, which means everyone at the table can enjoy them. I will be bringing a big batch of these to our family Easter celebrations and watching them disappear very quickly!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Gluten free | Makes 30 small cupcakes (or 12 large cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes – baking times will vary from those listed below)

Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days

Ingredients

  • 70 grams butter, softened
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 100 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100 grams buckwheat flour
  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 55 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk minus 1 tablespoon at room temperature

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line 30 holes of three 12-cup (1/4 cup capacity) small cupcake baking tins with cupcake papers. See note.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and both sugars until pale and creamy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Beat in flour mix in three additions alternating with milk and beating until just combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.
  7. Spoon mixture into prepared baking tins filling each cup 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops spring back into place when gently pressed.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating (see below).
  10. Enjoy. These cupcakes will last about 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 120 grams butter, softened
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 4 cups gluten free icing sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method

  1. Beat butter until pale and smooth – about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and glossy. This should take about 3 minutes. Be patient and persevere because this will result in smooth, fluffy frosting that will have you begging for more.
  3. Spoon into piping bag and decorate as desired. Alternately spread thickly on top of cupcakes with a butter knife.
  4. Decorate with small candy-covered Easter eggs or other decorations.

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Tell me, dear reader, how are you celebrating Easter? Anyone else identify with the Easter Bunny as their spirit animal?

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Fifteen

This week was amazing and busy with adventures, which is why I am delivering this Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 a little late. So much life to live and so much to be grateful for. Here I present Week Fifteen:

Monday: Grateful that when I got home after a full and busy day (including run, meetings, and paperwork) and find Chris waiting with snuggles and a new television show for us to watch together and relax. We are both admirers of Neil deGrasse Tyson and his new show Cosmos is fascinating for two science nerds like us. Romance: our way.

Tuesday: Up this morning before the sun and grateful to head down to the harbour for a run. The autumn mornings make it tempting to stay in bed, but the call of the footpaths near the bay draw me out of bed most mornings. Grateful to have a beautiful place to run.

Sunrise 4_8

Wednesday: Tonight I was so grateful to go for a walk with Chris after work. I hope our Wednesday walks become a tradition. We get to talk about anything and everything and being outside while the sun goes down strips away the stress of the day. I was also grateful for a surprise visit from Chris’s parents. Short but sweet.

Thursday: Sometimes we have difficult conversations, well maybe not difficult but challenging, and I am not always good at computing my feelings and opinions right on the spot. That is why I am grateful to Chris for giving me hugs and time to think about things and letting me express my opinion when it comes to me. Also, I am grateful to Dad for rescuing me in the driveway and helping me get my trillion shopping bags into the house.

Friday: Today I took myself out of the office for lunch. I picked up some sushi and drove to a local park and sat in the sunshine just listening to the silence. Then, I made use of the swing set swooshing up and back and dangling my head back to get a better view of the sky. I am grateful that I took that opportunity because it reminded me how free I felt as a child, and how I can recapture that now as an adult.

In the park at lunchtime

Saturday:Today was filled with celebration of family. Mum and I headed to the markets early in the morning for some breakfast and found some beautiful produce for the week ahead. Then I got in a quick run before we all headed down the coast to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends. Congratulations Bree and Justin and thank you so much for inviting us to be part of your special day. I am so grateful to be able to bear witness to two wonderful young people promising their lives and love to one another. Also grateful for dancing, lolly bars, and watching the sunset with a cool drink in my hand.

Bree wedding

Sunday:This morning I shared a wonderful morning walk with my sister. I was grateful to catch up with her and burn off some of the cake from last night! I was also grateful to do some Easter baking and make some perfect gluten free chocolate cupcakes (stay tuned for tomorrow’s post). Then in the evening Chris and I headed to a new (to us) Turkish restaurant and caught up with our closest group of friends. Grateful for all the love today.

Easter cupcakes

Also this week:

It’s been a little quiet round here, just working out some space and housing issues and then I will be back in the kitchen with a vengeance!

Currently…Haloumi, Date, and Almond Salad

Here at Thoroughly Nourished Life I am currently:

Thinking: I wish I could have a vacation to Los Angeles in the early 90s. With Richard Gere. At the Beverly Wiltshire. With a credit card I didn’t have to repay. Yes, I am watching Pretty Woman. The rest of this list will be peppered with references. My apologies.

Enjoying: The combination of salty, squeaky haloumi, sweet dates, and vinegary dressing. Perfect for a mid-shopping lunch date at a fancy Beverly Hills cafe.

Haloumi Date Almond Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Feeling: Satisfied after a flavoursome dinner salad that was a little naughty (fried haloumi anyone), a little nice (spinach, almond). and thoroughly nourishing.

Wearing: In reality? A pair of jean shorts that Chris hates, a singlet with a mustard stain (please don’t judge), and a cardigan (pre-Autumn continues). In my Richard Gere fantasy? Probably this dress, because, who wouldn’t?

Needing: More dates, almonds, spinach and haloumi so that I can make another batch of this salad next week. Also, one of these to follow. And a bubble bath while listening to Prince (or is that the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince?).

Haloumi Date Almond Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Wanting: This Pretty Woman print for our new home. And to go and pick at the leftovers of this Haloumi, Date, and Almond Salad that are currently residing in my fridge.

Planning: What I am going to bake over the Easter long weekend. Large bowls of salad will be required to counteract the forecast sugar consumption. I may also be planning on binge-watching Pretty Woman and singing ‘Wild Women Do’ on my long weekend runs.

Drinking: A cup of green tea. Every morning. Every night. All day. It keeps me going.

Haloumi Date Almond Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Haloumi. Date, and Almond Salad

Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Serves 2.

Inspired by Shutterbean’s Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium red salad onion
  • 1 tablespoon seeded mustard
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Generous pinch each salt and black pepper
  • 75 grams haloumi
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 120 grams baby spinach leaves

Method

  1. Thinly slice red salad onion and mix with seeded mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside until needed.
  2. Slice haloumi into small squares bout 2cm square and 0.5cm thick (about the size and thickness of a scrabble tile)
  3. Heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add haloumi and almond. Fry, stirring occasionally until the haloumi is browned on both sides.
  4. Place baby spinach leaves into a large salad bowl. Add haloumi and almonds and pour over onion dressing. Toss well until everything is coated in the vinaigrette.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Now, currently I am finishing my cup of tea and off to fantasise about a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. Wild women do, and they don’t regret it.

 

Midweek Mantra: Do it Every Day

When you have a dream, a vision, or a soul-shaking idea of what you want your life to be you are awakened to the gap between your current location and your planned destination. We are bombarded with success stories of people who have changed their lives, moved to faraway places, landed their dream jobs, or made radical lifestyle changes. We see the headlines, the big leaps that they have taken, the most daring acts of their journey. We don’t see the everyday slogging away that makes dreams into reality.

We see the ‘end of season reveal’, not the hour after hour spent on the treadmill or the meal by meal fight to eat well. We see the ‘New York Times Bestseller’ interview, not the days of staring at a blank white page and then the hours spent filling it with words, editing, manipulating, and creating.

It’s so easy to think that in our immediate gratification, instant data, and cheap fame society that creating something, changing your life, is just as easy. When we sit down to confront the real work of it, to take the giant leap, we realise that it isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be immediate and there actually aren’t any huge leaps, just small steps and consistency of action day after day.

I struggle with this myself. Chris had it right when he reflected to me the other day that it seems that I want to do all the things. I want to write books, I want to blog, I want to teach people about a healthy lifestyle, I want to cook, I want to pursue further education. My problem is that there are so many things that I want to do with my life that I get exhausted by the thought and then end up doing nothing. All of these goals appear to need big leaps. I keep forgetting that it is the everyday action that will get me there in the end. Write a little bit every day and by the end of the year you will have many thousands of words to mould. I need to change the routine that leaves little time or head space for writing. I need to cut out the non-essentials and bear down on the creative moments that give me the most pleasure.

The same is true of any goal: if you want to run a marathon you need to train every day, if you want to lose weight then you have to work on that every day, if you want to build something you need to work on that every day.

Whatever dream or goal you have in mind you need to make it part of your life every day in a small but substantial way. One step at a time towards your destination.

Tell me, dear reader, how do you work towards your goal every day, whatever that goal might be?

Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies

I made these cookies before I went to a wedding. Because naturally, when one is going to an event where there is going to be amazing food, amazing wine, and then amazing cake, one really needs to eat cookies before one goes. Possibly not. However, Jessica did point out that they are small, therefore they could be considered a snack food, and everyone knows that you should have a small snack before you head out to an event so that you aren’t hungry and therefore angry, and don’t overeat the appetisers and/or bread basket.

Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I know that you should really snack on something healthy like an apple and some nut butter, or some low-fat Greek yoghurt. That’s what sensible Amy does on normal days, but there are some days, like a Saturday where your awesome and unintended sleep in gets interrupted by your alarm for an appointment, and then you show up at said appointment to find out that they meant to call you and cancel. Three weeks ago.

Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Still, no big fuss. Just go home via the supermarket, pick up some buckwheat flour and chocolate chips, remember that you have some egg dregs leftover from your sensible Friday night dinner of egg white omelette and make yourself some cookies. Three cookies disappeared while I was getting dressed and glammed for said wedding. Mental health snack: sensible. Then you really should proceed to eat the bread roll (because for goodness sake they actually found you a gluten free one) with butter (of course); lick the plate clean when they bring you an amazingly tasty dinner; and then dance with your significant other like a crazy person (Pulp Fiction has nothing on us). Then, definitely remember to have a cookie before breakfast on Sunday while you are trying to make bacon for your slightly hungover significant other in a mildly hungover state yourself. Couch time for most of the day: sensible. Note: I did also go for a cookie-fuelled run in the afternoon. Perhaps not sensible, but definitely required.

Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cookies are chocolate in the best way. The dough isn’t overly sweet so the cocoa shines through. The milk chocolate chips are little bursts of sweetness among the darker dough. The reason these are called pebble cookies is because they are soft and slightly crumbly and fit in the palm of your hand, smooth and full of chocolaty promise before you gobble them down. I dare you to stop at just one.

 Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies

Note: If you do not require these to be gluten free, simply replace the buckwheat flour and rice flour with the equivalent weight of plain flour.

Gluten Free. Makes 18 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 50 grams cocoa powder
  • 75 grams buckwheat flour
  • 75 grams brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C (320F) and line two cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl use a wooden spoon to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg, yolks, and vanilla essence and beat until smooth.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, buckwheat flour and rice flour.
  5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Mix in chocolate chips until well distributed.
  7. Roll heaped tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on baking trays, allow room for a small amount of spreading.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until edges are firm. The middle may still be soft. This is good otherwise your cookies will be overly hard.
  9. Remove and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Fourteen

Some weeks I struggle with the quiet. Some weeks I struggle with the busyness. I’m contrary like that. This week I had the perfect balance of all-over-the-place and quiet nights in. I am grateful for my life that provides me with time for stimulation and adventuring and time for reflection and solitude. A perfect week. Let’s do it again soon! Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Fourteen:

Monday: Writing happened. Okay, so not the writing I was supposed to be doing on my thesis, but still putting words down on the page in one fluid motion actually happened and I was grateful for that.

as we wake

Tuesday: Today we had a big meeting at work. With both of the top bosses out sick it was up to the rest of us to pull together and play the game. Grateful to work with the team I do. I was also grateful for an awesome fast run after I escaped from the office, and then my darling boyfriend took me out for dinner. Sometimes, being a grown up isn’t all that bad.

Wednesday: You know those nights when you know you need to go to the gym because you’ve spent all day sitting in an office chair, but you really don’t feel like facing the music and the air-conditioning and just humanity? Tonight was one of those nights. I was so grateful when I got home to pick Chris up and go for our Wednesday night gym date and he said ‘let’s go for a big walk instead’. I am grateful for his gesture, and I was grateful to walk in the cool night air and talk about all sorts of things and let the stress of the day fall away.

Manly Harbour

Thursday: This morning I was grateful for a sunrise run by the harbour; slow and measured and just enough to breathe into the day. Tonight I was grateful that Chris and I got to pick up my birthday present: a shiny new DSLR camera! Thank you to everyone who contributed, I am very grateful and I can’t wait to learn how to use it properly.

Friday: Today I was grateful for a busy morning, a quiet afternoon, and an excellent run at the gym. Then I was grateful to come home and have dinner with my Mum and Dad and then relax in front of the TV while watching the Dr Blake Mysteries and doing some university work. A quiet night perfect for ending the week.

Saturday: Today was a whirlwind of awesomeness. A busy morning gave way into a night where Chris and I celebrated the wedding of two new and dear friends. Their beautiful ceremony was followed by a night of dancing (so many dips and twirls), eating (so much cake), drinking (so much wine) and laughter. I am so grateful that they invited us to celebrate this most special of days with them, and I wish Jess and Bruno a long, happy and adventurous life together. So much love.

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Sunday: Today I was grateful for a sleep in, a slow wake up, and a cup of tea made by Mum. Also so grateful to my parents and sister for providing transportation for us last night. It was lovely to wake up in our own bed and be able to stumble out looking for a cup of tea after the sun had well and truly risen. The rest of today will be spent doing some catering prep, taking a walk, and getting into some university writing.

Also this week:

Tell me dear reader, what are you grateful for this week? What are you looking forward to next week? I have so much more to look forward to in this coming week (including another wedding!) – grateful for this happily busy time of year!

Roasted Carrot and Mountain Rice Salad

I was asked recently to seriously consider these questions: What do you want from your life? What would you like people to say about you at your 90th birthday party?

I was being asked to think about my life goals in reverse. What do you want to be able to say when you reach the end? Let that lead your life goals rather than looking out from the situation you find yourself in at the moment. The glasses looking from here into the future are murky and smudged, but the lens from that future point back to where you are anchored at present is sharper.

When I (hopefully) reach that milestone birthday and have blown out the candles on my three-tier chocolate cake (you know it) what would I like people to say about me? What would I like to be able to say about my own life?

Firstly, I would want people to say that I lived, I didn’t just survive or exist, I lived my life. I took risks and played the game of life. I didn’t sit on the sidelines. I was the adventurer, the discoverer, the unafraid.

I would want people to know that I lived my life with love. I let love guide my actions and decisions. It might not always be the wisest of actions, but letting love guide your life will lead you to more unexpected blessings than letting logic guide your every step. I would want the people gathered around my armchair to know that I loved them, for them to be able to say that we never parted on an angry word, that they always knew I loved them, that I showed my love through service to the people around me.

I would want the speeches to say that I was leaving work behind that mattered; I had created something that would endure long after my name had been forgotten by my descendants. I had crafted something that touched people’s lives, not in a grand way, but in some small way that was unique to me.

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I would want people to reminisce about the meals we had shared at the kitchen table. Our home had always been open to any travelling past, any lonely soul, any celebratory moment, and there was always a spot at the table for the ones who wanted to stay. I would want them to talk about the simple nights, the rowdy nights, the late into the morning nights, the breakfasts, the long lunches, and the smell of baking wafting from my ever-busy stove. I would want to look over at Chris and see in his eyes the shared memory of nights when it was just the two of us, hungry after a walk, with a bag of mixed rice and a few carrots, that became nourishment and a moment stolen from a day dictated by the world’s demands. That too speaks of love, of what my life goals really are.

This meal came together in the middle of a busy week. Chris was waiting at the door for me when I got home, and suggested that we go for a walk along the harbour. We walked along, hand in hand, the most timeless expression of togetherness, of being tethered heart to heart. We talked about now, about then, about the future. We arrived home relaxed and I carried that spirit of simple joy into the kitchen. Some mixed rice, a few sweet carrots, some basil freshly picked from my co-workers garden, some honey, and a dollop of mustard, added together we had dinner fit for two.

DSC01846

Roasted Carrot and Mountain Rice Salad

I used a mountain rice blend (from here) because Chris doesn’t like brown rice, and white isn’t quite right for a salad. You could of course, replace the mountain rice with the same amount of brown rice or even spelt. Cooking times may vary from those listed below. Replace honey with agave or maple syrup to make this a vegan meal.

Serves 2-3. Gluten free. Vegetarian. Vegan option.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mountain rice blend (see note)
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 small carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon local honey
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds
  • 2 cups rocket leaves

For the dressing

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons seeded mustard
  • 1 handful fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a medium size baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Place rice and water in a medium size saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Drain rice, return to pot and cover to keep warm.
  3. While rice is cooking. slice carrots lengthwise into long fingers. Place into a bowl with olive oil, honey and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  4. Spread almonds onto a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Watch them carefully because they will cook very quickly. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. While the rice and carrot are cooking make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork. Set aside until needed.
  6. To serve: spread rocket leaves onto a large platter. Spread rice over the rocket. Place carrots on top. Pour over the dressing and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

I served mine with some toasted chickpeas while Chris enjoyed his with crispy skinned salmon. This salad is equally pleasant and filling as a meal in itself.

Thoroughly Nourished Finds – Byron Bay

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday weekend with an overnight trip to the beautiful Byron Bay. Down the coast road we went, through the northern hinterlands, past the rolling green hills with farmhouses tucked in their bosoms, and eventually over the rise of another hill we were met with the sight of the sea. Today I present to you, a brief guide to the places we enjoyed during our stay at Byron Bay.

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 Sleeping:

Purely by accident I stumbled across the Byron Cove Beach House online and booked it after a brief look at some other accommodation. Upon arrival we were not disappointed with our choice. The room was bright and light with a modern beach house theme. The huge king bed was the best place for an afternoon nap and the air conditioning, huge shower, and free wi-fi certainly impressed Chris. Perhaps the best part about the Byron Cove Beach House is the proximity to the beach. We were so close that we fell asleep to the sound of the waves roaring and crashing on the sands. We will definitely be returning to the Byron Cove Beach House in the near future.

Exploring:

Less than 36 hours in a place didn’t allow for in-depth exploration, but we made the most of the time we had, and we were there to relax – definitely achieved that outcome! On my list of recommendations:

A long beach walk before dinner – we started our walk while the sun was setting and watched it disappear over the mountains in streaks of rose and gold and then watched the stars pop out of the newly dark sky. Pure magic.

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse

The Cape Byron Lighthouse. Try this walk early in the morning before the heat of the day arrives. Cape Byron boasts the title of the Easternmost Point of Mainland Australia, but that is not the main reason to visit. The reason to attempt this challenging walk (the return journey is entirely uphill – think lunges, lots of lunges) is the uninterrupted view of the ocean, which in the morning is covered in a blanket of mist that rolls back as the sun gets higher; the dolphin sightings (we weren’t lucky enough to see dolphins – next time); and the waves that crash against the rocks while the lighthouse stands resolutely above. Bring your camera on this walk because you will want to capture some of the magic on film for yourself. Also – bring water, sunscreen, and a hat.

Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk

Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk

Johnson St. This is the main street of Byron and it is filled with quirky little shops, and each side street is lined with other places to explore. Next time I will be doing some home ware shopping for our new house… (Chris you are warned).

Martin Luther King Jr. | Byron Bay

Martin Luther King Jr. | Byron Bay

Eating:

Now we get to the most important part! While we were in Byron our tummies were filled (delightfully) at the following places:

Twisted Sista Café - a recommendation from my sister’s mother-in-law and a worthy one at that. I enjoyed the Polenta and Vegetable Stack while Chris went for the Tandoori Chicken Sandwich. Neither of us were disappointed. Bring your cash though because there are no card facilities at this café.

Lunch at Twisted Sista | Byron Bay

Lunch at Twisted Sista | Byron Bay

Fishheads - we stumbled across this place during our pre-dinner walk. I am so glad we came back! Chris devoured an amazing Mixed Grill, which was filled with fish, prawns, and champagne lobster – a very happy man indeed. My dinner was smaller, the Caprese Salad, which boasted beautifully milky burrata, but my side of fries and aioli more than made up for it. The Fishheads team make the aioli in the restaurant and by the end I was almost begging for the recipe. I’ll have to attempt my own very soon.

Bella Rosa Gelataria – My little sister recommended this one, and boy oh boy was she on the money! I am a gelati fiend and this gelataria is on par with any of the places I visited in Italy. My pistachio gelati was studded with roasted pistachio pieces and Chris’s chocolate gelati had hidden chunks of chocolate throughout. The flavours were full and smooth and I can’t wait to go back for more!

The Ginger Pig - We were hooked after we saw the name! After our lighthouse walk we were starving for breakfast before our drive home. This place fit the bill with a menu to please a meat eater and a gluten free vegetarian. My breakfast of buckwheat pancakes was a little lacklustre, but the wonderful selection of teas made up for it. Chris was happy as the proverbial in mud with his Pig’s Breakfast and drove home with a sausage-induced smile on his face.

Buckwheat Pancakes at Ginger Pig | Byron Bay

Buckwheat Pancakes at Ginger Pig | Byron Bay

A few things:

Byron Bay is horrible for parking. Walk when you can because the relaxing holiday atmosphere can soon be shattered with a frustrating search for a park.

Make time to people watch in Byron. This seaside town is a melting pot of new-age hippies both old and young, sea-change yuppies, holiday makers, backpackers, surfers, foodies, and locals. A cup of coffee and a good street facing seat will provide you endless entertainment as the mosaic of humanity walks on by.

Chris and I | Byron Bay

Tell me dear reader, have you ever been to Byron? Any places I need to put on my list for next time?