Vegan Hazelnut, Orange and Date Muffins.

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I’m sitting in the New England Brewery sampling their Brown Ale on my way to my intensive schools for university.

I stayed with my Grandma last night and hung out with my Aunty and cousins who live just down the road. Driving into Laurieton yesterday I was overwhelmed by the sense of loss I still feel for my Grandad who passed away 2 years ago last June. I can’t even begin to imagine how my Grandma must feel – in saying that, I know we are all grateful to have had such a lovely man with a unique and cheeky sense of humour be a part of our lives.

I also packed up the new wheels AKA Sirius Black to get a few rides in this week.
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I had a lovely brekkie this morning by the water…

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I hadn’t heard from the girl I am couch surfing with and Mandz suggested if I see it – stop in at the New England Brewery, which a guy she used to work with started. Literally 10 seconds later – I found it!

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Fate!

A minute after that my host messaged me – phew! Win win!

Anywho – let’s get down to business (while I wait to be under the legal limit).

These were my first attempt at vegan muffins. I’ve had an attempt at vegan banana bread and while I like it the recipe still needs work!

I also got sent some freebies from Natvia to try during the week too. Hoorah!

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I’ve always been a bit sceptical of stevia – it probably has something to do with the fact the one and only time I have previously used it I made this carrot cake that tasted like a diet coke version. Needless to say, that container is still rocking around the cupboard somewhere.

This stuff however, is actually really tasty!

You could replace the sultanas and dates with dried cranberries.

I also entered this in the bake off competition that Natvia is holiding – you can vote for me here….

https://www.facebook.com/sweeterlifeclub?sk=app_451684954848385&app_data=view-vote%2Cfor-1158474

 

and you can vote daily so please keep voting for me!!

The bits and pieces

2 C wholemeal spelt flour

1/2 C coconut oil, melted

2/3 C Natvia powdered sweetener

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

Juice of 6 oranges

Zest of one orange

1 tsp cinnamon

1 C hazelnuts, roughly chopped

2/3 C sultanas

12 dates, roughly chopped

1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Shredded coconut, for garnish

 

Pre-heat oven to 150ºC and grease a muffin tray.

In a large mixing bowl add dry ingredients except for coconut.

Stir well to combine.

Add wet ingredients to dry mix and stir well – careful not to over mix as the spelt flour will get tough if you over beat!

Pour into prepared muffin tray and top with coconut.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.

Remover from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning out.

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Too easy!

 

Enjoy!

 

Baked Sweet Falafels.

Baked!

Back to reality… but, it’s not all bad.

I watched two of my favourites get married – congratulations Jessie and Troy!

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I’ve also started studying a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology and maths and statistics are kicking my arse! Along with this, because I’m not busy enough, I have decided to start training for some triathlons over summer.

Excitement!

My good mate Russ encouraged me to sign up for an Olympic length so I’m well and truly throwing myself in the deep end with this one. I’m a little bit concerned about my ability (or lack thereof) to swim 1.5K… if I drown – Russ, I’m blaming you!

Not a bad view.
Not a bad view.

He’s also got me into road riding, and hooked me up with a SICK bike. Again, I’m a little concerned about my ability to ride 40K after a massive swim… but hopefully training will pay off. I have no doubt that I will stack it at least once before these events in Summer… without a doubt, I am THAT kid.

Riding has taken me by surprise though, I’m a little bit in love! I like that you can see so much more riding than when I run. It’s also a good way to give my leggies a break from pounding the pavement.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted with my training successes (and failures!). First race is in December. EEEK.

I made these “falafels” as I was trying to put together a vegan cookie with no oil… They turned out really well. They really are just a sweet little morsel of goodness. Perfect pre or post ride!

Again, you could play around with what you put in them. And you could substitute whole almonds for almond meal or pop in some cocoa and hazelnuts… I will be trying that combination next.

Apologies for the pictures too – I seemed to consume all of these before I got any decent pictures… story of my life.

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The bits and pieces

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup almonds

15 dates

2 tbsp coconut flour (could use desiccated coconut)

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp cinnamon

boiling water

 

Pre-heat oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a small bowl, cover dates with boiling water. You want the water to be about 1cm over the dates. Let sit while you blend other ingredients.

Using a food processor, blend chickpeas on high for about 5 minutes or until they form a smooth paste. Add cinnamon and almonds and process for another couple of minutes until almonds are in small chunks.

Throw in the dates and water and blend until they are incorporated. You don’t want it too smooth. You still want chunks of dates and almonds.

Roll mixture into small balls and place on prepared baking tray. Press down with a fork and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes. Make sure you don’t over bake them – they’ll be dry and yucky otherwise.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before digging in.

These little guys should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Rhodes, Athens and Home.

After having the most amazing time with some wonderful family and friends, I headed off to Rhodes with a couple of my cousins and some wonderful new friends.

The 6 of us had the pleasure of spending a few more hours on our boat traveling to Rhodes instead of taking the ferry. As we departed we gave our crew one final hug and I was truly sad!

The guys had planned on heading off to another island but decided to hang out in Rhodes with me for a few days. I was so happy with this decision! Traveling by myself was great but hanging out with these guys was just awesome.

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One of the many wonderful meals shared with these excellent people!

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Rhodes, I will always remember you for your WHITE nutella crepes. Holy shit.

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I didn’t even know white nutella existed – I consumed my body weight, at least twice eating these things. Seemed like a good idea at the time, the fact my clothes don’t really fit properly right now – ehhhh not so great.

We hired a car to go and see the acropolis. By the time we arrived, it had closed. Dammit!

Our beast!
Our beast!

We did however, stop off at this awesome little cafe on the side of the road and ate the most amazing gyros. Manned by one lovely old lady, she could cook! We watched as she cooked our meals completely from scratch. SO fresh and amazing and all for 2€ and over looking the amazing coast line.

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Driving around Rhodes you could really see how much potential this place had before the economy crashed. There were deserted houses and apartments everywhere that were all but finished. Empty shops and petrol stations that were now used as car parks were a common site.

It was sad and a little spooky. It was like time had just stopped and it almost felt like we were in one of those apocalypse movies at times!

When we arrived at the Acropolis and discovered it was closed, Gareth, Jacinta, Matty and Ang decided to go for a walk and explore. Ant and I, we decided it was time for a cocktail and watch part of Le Tour.

Donkey rides at the Acropolis. POOR donkey!
Donkey rides at the Acropolis. POOR donkey!
Ant and I, heading for cocktails.
Ant and I, heading for cocktails.

Ant and I were best mates when we were little. There’s about a month age difference between us and every school holidays we would spend half the time at one house and the other half at the others.

We were inseparable!

It was really lovely hanging out with my old mate! Ant’s a very generous guy, who would do anything for you. Whenever you need him! Love you cuz! xx

I’m really glad we got to spend some quality time together. And we walked out of that bar after 2 cocktails and I was smashed! Old mate behind the bar sure knew how to make a potent pina colada!

Every night we would head into the old town, grab some dinner, sit up on the stairs in the main square with our crepes and gelati and people watch before calling it a night and heading home.

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Prime people watching position!

After 3 days in Rhodes, I headed off to Athens while the others made their way to Rome.

I stumbled into this AWESOME vegetarian cafe in Athens accidentally. The food was frigging awesome. Most of it was either vegetarian or vegan.

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I also found this Lego store – Oh I love me some Lego, especially when it’s giant!!

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I had expected Athens to be really cheap, but it really wasn’t. I guess I had expected it to be like Rhodes but there was definitely more going on and the vibe was a little less eery! There was still a heap going on in Athens.

After one night in Athens, it was time to call it a day. En route to Sydney I was a little sad, but also ready to get back into a routine.

I arrived home to this too:

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So you can’t really be too sad when you have the gorgeous Lisey to greet you!

My whirlwind tour of Europe is now over. I can’t wait for my next trip!! I had the most amazing experiences, a few hilarious slip ups! Made some new friends, spent time with old ones, ate some amazing food. Drank more than I have in a very long time and came back 6 kilos heavier! A sign of a very good holiday!

I’ve got some awesome new recipes to blog now too…

Until  then my friends,

Brickie xx