Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Brownies

Hello there ETD readers. Sorry it's been a while since my last post. I went on holidays with the folks to China, Hong Kong and Macau for 3 weeks and since I've been back I've been trying to organise the rest of our wedding. Which is in less than 3 weeks!! Eeek, can't believe it's so soon!! :D Excited much?!

Anywho, lately I've really been really getting into this clean eating diet. Since I got back from overseas and leading up to the wedding, as all brides do - I've been trying to stay healthy and loose weight/not put on any extra weight. Before I went overseas I did loose a bit of weight and had to get my dress taken in. Then during my trip all we ever seemed to do was eat, shop and eat some more. So as soon as I got back I was detemined to get back to where I was and keep improving. I'd also gotten into my running before I left and am now happy to say that I can run 5km (almost comfortably) without stopping! Go me! Really big achievement since before I started I couldn't run 500m without stopping and absolutely hated running!!

On Facebook I've been following some interesting pages that deal with either paleo or clean eating. With each recipe I come across I check out the ingredients and see if I have them already or if they're relatively cheap and easy to get. Yes, typical Asian. I've seen a lot of these dessert type recipes that put pumkin or sweet potato in it, as a substitute to flour and butter and to create the gooey, soft, moist texture that you would normally get. I finally came across one recipe that I had all the ingredients for! And I was expecting Gaffa home for a quick visit, so thought it'd be nice to make them for him since he'd just come back from his final exercise (which he passed) and is now able to graduate next week. Yay fo Gaffa!!

This recipe was on a Facebook page called Just Eat Real Food, posted via Grass Fed Kitchen.

1 cup mashed sweet potato
3 eggs
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup cocao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp honey (I used rice malt syrup)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
Poke a few holes in the sweet potato using a fork. Place on oven rack and bake for 40-45 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 175 degrees C.
Peel the skin off the sweet potato. Using a food processor, process until smooth like mash.
In a bowl, combine eggs, cocao powder, flour, baking soda, coconut oil, honey/rice malt syrup, vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until well combined.
Add sweet potato and mix on slightly faster speed.
Pour batter into lined 8x8 brownie pan or similar. Bake for 35 mins or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing.

Thee brownies tasted like normal brownies.  You could not taste the sweet potato flavour at all. They were very soft and moist, and best of all - healthy too! They say you can add choc chips to this recipe to get the gooey chocolate bits. Just add them at the end before pouring the mixture into the pan and omit the extra 2 tbsp of honey.

Gaffa thoroughly enjoyed them and took the rest back with him to share with his Navy friends on the drive back down. No complaints! :) Success!!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

24 Hours in Jervis Bay

As most of you know, Gaffa is down in Jervis Bay completing his Officer training with the Royal Australian Navy. He spent a week down at HMAS Cerberus (where he'll be spending about 5 months next year doing his Engineering training course), but this time he was doing small arms training down there.

On Saturday morning Flinders Division hopped onto a bus and drove all the way back from Crib Point back to Jervis Bay - a 10.5 hour journey with stops every 2 hours. I booked a last minute motel room at the Huskinsson Beach Motel ($160 for the night, with a queen and single bed in the room), which is very close to the main strip of shops in Huskie.

I left Sydney at about 2pm and ended up arriving at the motel at about 5.30pm - a longer drive than normal due to the Sydney traffic in the Sutherland area. The sun was still up so I decided to go for a short walk to explore the area. It was a bit windy out and I'd only brought a light cardigan, so I didn't stay out for long.

Back in the motel room, I amused myself by painting my nails purple - for the prelim finals of the NRL, Storm vs Knights game that night, and watched the pre-match entertainment and the first half hour of the game on TV.

Gaffa finally arrived, in his chinos, collared long sleeve shirt and smart brown shoes, while I was wearing my jeans, Storm jersey, cardigan and purple Tigers. Gaffa decided to take me to the fanciest restaurant in Huskinsson - Wild Ginger, a South-East Asian restaurant and wine bar. Man did I feel under-dressed!

We ordered two mains to share and some rice. There are only 4 mains on the a la carte menu so it was not a tough choice. Gaffa previously dined at Wild Ginger with a few of his Navy friends, and larger groups are required to have the banquet - which I've been told are really good too. We decided on the light yellow curry of snapper with thai pea eggplant, oyster mushrooms, coconut cream and sweet basil. Our second dish was the 3 hour braised beef cheeks with a southern style green curry + holy basil and snake beans. The mains came out quite quickly, considering the restaurant was pretty full.

The beef cheeks green curry was my favourite, not overly spicy but had a nice curry taste. The yellow curry came with a very large piece of snapper, well worth the higher than average price that you'd pay for a Thai main. The rice was needed as both curries had a lot of sauce. We decided to skip on dessert as we had raw treats waiting for us back at the motel. We made it back to the room just in time for the end of the game. Unfortunately the Knights won :(

The next morning we woke up early, finished off the raw cheesecake and checked out of the motel. We decided to go for a walk along Huskinsson beach first before heading to Kiosk for brunch. At Kiosk we managed to get a table out front in the sun, and it was a glorious day for brunch! Gaffa ordered a coffee and I had a juice, and we both ordered the Coyote breakfast with corn fritters, bacon, black beans, avocado and a poached egg. Yuuuum!

After brunch we went for a walk around the shops on the main street. It's your typical small beach town; with a book shop, small clothing stores, milk bars, take away shops, and whale and dolphin cruise outlets. Gaffa showed me the gluten-free ice cream store that he was waiting for me to try it with him. Strong self control there H2B, considering ice cream is his kryptonite!

Next we decided to drive from Huskie to Hyam's Beach, which Jervis Bay is best known for. The long stretch of white sand with crystal clear blue water, sheltered by the bay so it has small waves. A perfect place to relax and chill out. Instead,  Gaffa and I walked from the main entrance to Hyam's Beach to the edge of the Navy base. Civilians aren't allowed onto the base via the beach access, and this is one of the many jobs that the officers in training have - to patrol the beach for unwanted backpackers :P

We spent the best part of the afternoon walking along the sand, dipping our feet in the water and chatting about everything. We even managed to get a full length photo of the two of us, plus the usual selfies.

By the time we got back to the car we were feeling peckish - it was time for ice cream. We drove back to Huskie and got a scoop of gluten free ice cream,  Gaffa went for a cone, which I'm not sure was gluten free... we walked along the water's edge while enjoying our "healthy" snack. Caramelised fig btw - YUM!

Gaffa wanted to show me around Creswell next, so we hoped back into the car and headed to Gaffa's home away from home. Getting me a visitors pass was quite easy and soon enough we were driving along on base watching the kangaroos basking in the afternoon sun.

We parked the car and Gaffa "pegged in" so that people knew he was on base, in case of any emergencies. We walked around and Gaffa showed me where he eats, sleeps,  marches, takes classes,  does EMA (early morning activity) and where he relaxes and plays darts. It was pretty cool to see all this as it really made all the stories Gaffa tells me seem more exciting and real.

It was almost time to head home. But before we went our separate ways we had an early dinner at the Huskie Pub. A gluten free pizza and clam chowder to share.

Driving back was only a 2.5hr journey. Not the easiest drive at night along the winding roads around Nowra and Berry and oncoming head lights; but I made it back in good time, safe and sound.

Jervis Bay is a beautiful place, one of Australia's hidden gems on the south east coast. Definitely a place I'd recommend taking a short trip to in summer.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Raw Desserts

Over the weekend I went a bit crazy at the health food section in Dee Why Discount Vitamins store, buying nuts, dates and cacao. I've been following a clean eating blog called Wholefood Simply, where Bianca has a lot of easy clean raw recipes for desserts and treats. So I thought I'd try some of them out.

Gaffa and I went to a cafe in Bondi called Earth to Table where all the food and drink are clean, raw, vegan, gluten free and dairy free. They have delicious cakes there that are just divine. So I was hoping to recreate something similar.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Paleo Spaghetti Bolognese

How does a Paleo diet consume spaghetti you ask? By making zucchini pasta! I've been following a lot of Paleo and clean eating blogs, Facebook pages and Instagramers lately and found a few recipes to try. A lot of them ask for ingredients that you'd normally not have in your cupboard (well I didn't anyway) so you do have to visit a health food store or the health food aisle of your local supermarket to stock up your shelves with the latest organic or gluten free, dairy free, sugar free alternatives. I tend not to be so strict on being 100% Paleo as some things you can't find or are just too damn expensive for my liking. (Yes I'm a cheap Asian).

Anyway, I thought I'd give Eat Drink Paleo's recipe a try and found it to be quite easy to make. I didn't include the red wine or port/sherry because I didn't have any and didn't want to buy a whole bottle to use just a few hundred mL. I aslo used 50/50 beef/pork mince because Coles sells 500g mince packets. I added an extra can of tomatoes to make up for the lack of wine and port. Also I used 2 celery sticks and 2 carrots, similar to all the Jamie Oliver recipes. I simmered it for about 2 hours.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chilli Con Carne

Since Gaffa has been away at officer training for the Australian Navy, I've been surviving off the frozen meals he made before he left and my parent's cooking. I made a promise to Gaffa that I'd learn to cook and finally got off my ass and did some cooking on the weekend.

I decided to make one of the meals that Gaffa always makes. It's really tasty and versatile, and actually easier to make than one of Jamie's 15 minute meals that I made the same day. 
Jamie's good old chilli con carne is in his Ministry of Food cookbook, and is probably the most used cookbook in our collection.  Gaffa has added a few of his own ingredients to make this more filling and give it a bit more of a kick.

As you can see from the list, it's got the basic staple ingredients that Gaffa has written about previously in his versatile cooking blogs, so this is definitely a hearty and healthy meal that can be frozen for later.

Friday, August 23, 2013

High Tea at the Tea Room, Gunners Barracks

Good day my dear readers. Imagine me saying that in my best English accent haha.
So Gaffa and I had enquired about having our wedding reception at Gunners Barracks as we loved the idea of high tea and the beautiful views there but unfortunately we couldn't make the numbers. My SIL (offically now) went there for high tea with a friend and told me that they did a gluten free option. So I booked Gaffa and I in for afternoon tea on the first weekend he was back from his initial training period with the Australian Navy.

They gave us a time slot from 12.30pm - 2.30pm for high tea and I had originally booked for 2 gluten free high teas but then later decided to just have one gluten free and one regular, so we were able to compare the two. I had also confirmed with them that our table would be outside, undercover but with a very nice view of the city and surrounding headland.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Flourless and Low Sugar Chocolate Cookies

Gaffa is currently down in Jervis Bay, attending New Entry Officer Training at HMAS Creswell. He has been there since his birthday and is not allowed off base until 16 August. So it's been a very long and hard couple of weeks, but I've been lucky enough to talk to him on the phone a few times. Originally we were told that phones would be taken away and no contact was possible in the first 4 weeks. But apparently they've been doing well in training so they get some phone time to call their loved ones :D

During one phone call I got from Gaffa, he told me is mailing address and also advised me that I could send him a care package if I wanted to. Yay! Challenge accepted. With a few suggestions from friends, I decided to bake him some cookies - gluten free ofcourse!

I did a quick Google search and stumbled upon a recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen for some chocolate cookies.  I'd also been told by Gaffa that he's been going to church and getting gluten free biscuits from the chaplin's wife, after the service. So I knew Gaffa was craving some treats since he's not normally one to go to church... but who knows?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mixed Berry Cheesecake Brownies

Hi ETD-ers! Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but Gaffa and I have been busy preparing for Gaffa to join the Australian Navy. He started the New Entry Officer Training Course on his birthday- what a great birthday present! ;P And is due to finish at the end of November. Just in time for our wedding! :) Yay!

Just before Gaffa left he requested that I bake him his favourite cheesecake - one with berries and a brownie base. I first discovered this cheesecake from a recipe I found randomly in a magazine at a doctor's waiting room. Since then I've used a couple of other recipes for the same cheesecake because it's easier to do a quick Google search than to find a piece of paper that I've stuffed somewhere...

This time I used the first thing that popped up in my search, a recipe from Taste for raspberry cheesecake brownies. The recipe uses dark chocolate whereas in previous recipes I remember using cocoa powder. This may be the reason why Gaffa raved about the brownie base being so damn good on this particular cheescake!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Diving in Tulamben - USAT Liberty Wreck

It's winter here down under and it's damn cold! So today I'm reminiscing on the warm clear waters we experienced while diving in Bali. Gaffa and I decided to do another day of diving by ourselves on the Tulamben wreck. We both love wreck diving - travelling around the world to dive on top wrecks like the SS President Cooliage in Vanuatu, Zenobia in Cyprus, Thislegorm in Egypt...

This time we were diving on the USAT Liberty which is a US Army transport ship that got torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 near Lombok. It was the towed to Talamben beach for salvage operations. In 1963 when Mt. Agung erupted, it pushed the ship about 25m from the shore to a depth of about 30m, where it now lies encrusted with beautiful coral and swimming with an abundance of marine life.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Eating in Bali Part 3

Okies, I swear this will be the last post about eating in Bali! Only two more restaurants to rave about, ones that are a definite must-eat when visiting this paradise island. 

After the wedding all our relatives and family friends went home, so it was just Gaffa and I, my parents and the newlyweds. We decided to meet up with them in Seminyak for dinner which is about half hour taxi from Nusa Dua. We arrived abit late for the $3 cocktails across the road,  but we were happy with the lychee martinis at Ultimo. 

Ultimo is an Italian restaurant on the main street of Seminyak, where you'll find lots of shopping boutiques, restaurants and cafes as well. I was surprised to see such a popular Italian restaurant in Indonesia, but I guess you do have a lot of  Westerners who probably get sick of eating nasi goreng everyday they're in Bali.
We were seated out the back, outside. There was minimal lighting, so little that they supplied us with torches so we could read the menu. We ordered an antipasto plate to share for a starter, and each ordered a pasta dish for mains. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eating in Bali Part 2

When it comes to food you can gurantee that there'll be a part 2, maybe even a part 3! Stay tuned...
The day after the wedding was spent relaxing since we had a late night out at ZJ's , a night club in the grandest hotel I've ever seen, Mulia. Anyway, that night we had dinner at Jimbaran. Jimbaran is known for its seafood and dinning on the beach. We watched the sun set at Rock Bar but I've heard the sun set at Jimbaran is good too. I assume all the restaurants at Jimbaran are much the same,  getting their seafood from the same place. We ate at Menega Cafe, and we had a set menu since there was about 30 of us. The tables are on the sand, on a slight angle so keep hold of your drinks! Food was decent, but my parents, aunties and uncles who also ate there said the food was not that good.

After the wedding we spend a couple of days in Ubud. Ubud is known for its beautiful rice fields, and is the arty and cultural hub of Bali. There are alot of warungs on mountain tops with gorgeous views of rice fields below. Definitely worth a visit just for the great views.

For lunch in Ubud we were taken by our tour guide to a local warung where we enjoyed some smoked duck and crispy duck. I don't know what the restaurant was called, sorry! But if you do a Google search for places to eat in Ubud, a few duck places will pop up. The smoked duck was really good, with lots of sauce to be soaked up by the rice. The spices used were delicious and the meat fell straight off the bone.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Eating in Bali Part 1

One thing that I was most looking forward to whilst in Bali was not only the hot weather and cheap shopping, but the food. Gaffa and I planned most of our travels around what's best to eat, so it was no surprise that we would be gaining weight on this trip! Lol.

In Sydney we'd only eaten at a few Indonesian restaurants, mainly Ayam Goreng 99 in Kingsford. Enjoying the grilled chicken and satay sticks with copious amounts of ketchup manis and chilli sauce was just the beginning of our love affair with Indo food.

The first night we ate out at a warung - which is a name for a small family shop , cafe or restaurant. You'll see a lot of warungs around Bali, where you can gurantee there'll be good cheap local food. Made's Warung in Seminyak is not your typical hole in the wall joint, but has grown so much that it's expanded to a larger restaurant with a live band. The a la carte menu has a variety of Asian and European food, with the traditional Indonesian and Balinese dishes.

Gaffa and I shared a Nasi Campur Special and some juicy chargrilled sate skewers. The nasi capur provided a good mix of food and Gaffa was so hungry he ordered a Nasi Goreng for himself! First night in Bali also called for a Bintang beer tower to share between the table. Surprisingly the beer is not too bad. Easy to drink with a light taste.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak, Bali

If you ever visit Bali I highly recommend spending a day or night or both, here! Potato Head Beach Club is a funky hang out for all the cool kids. There's a beach, infinity pool complete with its own bar, sun lounges, dinning tables and grassy area; all for you and your friends to soak up the sun during the day and cool off at night to the chilled out tunes while trying all their delicious cocktails.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Diving in Nusa Penida, Bali

My bro, Rave and his fiance, Ms. Tjak were getting married in Bali so Gaffa and I took this opportunity to do some diving. We did some research and found that Bali was famous for its manta rays and the mola mola but it was not mola mola season. So we decided to do our first day of diving at Nuda Penida, in search for some manta rays.

Earlier in the year we'd taught The Banker and her boyfriend to dive, and we also found out that a few of Rave's friends were divers too. I organised with a PADI CDC (the highest rating for a dive centre) - Crystal Divers to spend the day out on their boat with a group of 9 of us - 7 divers and 2 snorklers. They were very efficient in answering our questions via email beforehand and their level of service and professionalism was top notch. I would highly recommend them for anyone diving in Bali. They're service provides everything: pickup and drop off from your hotel, gear hire and lunch, snacks and drinks during the day. The prices are reasonable also, giving discounts to PADI professionals.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vivid Sydney

Every year when the weather starts to get cold, Sydney decides to put on a show of lights, music and ideas called Vivid. This year it runs from 24 May until 10 June. The city near the harbour lights up from 6pm onwards into a spectacular array of colours,  providing a great night out; just remember to wrap up because it's chilly outside!

Gaffa and I went to Vivid many years ago when we first got together, and again this year. The highlight for me at Vivid is seeing the Opera House projected with beautiful lights on its sails. The classic Sydney icon is transferred from its basic white facade into beautiful,  bright designs, worthy of numerous photo snaps.

Here are a few of my photos from the night. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Opera Bar, Sydney

Last night we bid farewell to two fellow Poms, one of which Gaffa became good friends with while working full time as a diving instructor. They are over here on working holiday visas and had worked 3 months in Sydney already. The next part of their trip was going to take them north, to find some work in Cairns and then travel around Australia and back to Sydney in December.

After work I met Gaffa and the Poms at Sea Rock Bar, where they had been happily drinking wine during happy hour. After one more drink there we were starving and heading to Opera Bar for dinner.
The Poms had been here for dinner before and raved about the fish and chips,  so they wanted to come back here for one of their last meals in Sydney. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Max Brenner, Manly

Love chocolate? Well you'll definitely love this place. Chocolate by the bald man is a cafe that sells hot and cold drinks, and an array of chocolate desserts. Some large enough to fill you up if you skip lunch/dinner or for those with a second stomach for desserts.

Gaffa and I met up with our good friends Maverick and Quiche in Manly for dinner at Manly Fish Cafe, then dessert at Max Brenner. The last time we were at MB with them was before we left for our overseas travels in June 2011. So this outing was long overdue!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Belgrave Cartel, Manly

I’ve been holding back on posting another blog for a while now, trying to find something interesting to write about and also the time to site down and actually write it. Having dinner at Belgrave Cartel to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Gaffa was a really nice experience and what better way to reignite the Eat Travel Dive blog once again.

Belgrave Cartel is situated in Manly on Belgrave Street and started off as a small coffee shop, supplying the locals with their morning caffeine hit. They soon became a hit themselves with constant preorders in the morning and a recent renovation to include more seating space out the back, and now they have expanded into ever changing lunch and dinner menus with amazing food, great wines and still amazing coffee (according to Gaffa, since I don’t drink coffee). They’re also trying to get approval for an extended liquor license so watch out for their great Cartel nights.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jamie's 15 Minute Meals

Do they really take only 15 minutes to make? Well if you've got the kettle turned on and a helper on hand, then yes maybe. But then there's the cleaning up and washing up to do afterwards.

None the less, Jamie's 15 minute meals recipe book is a real treat for anyone who wants to have a healthy meal that's relatively quick and easy to make.

I bought the book for Gaffa for Christmas since he's a massive Jamie fan, and I always complain that even though his cooking is amazing, it does take a tad longer than desired and I get a little impatient sometimes... (yes, there's my confession in black and white print).
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