How We Began Our October + Labour Day Weekend Snapshots

Late post, I know. Interesting things happened over the long Labour Day weekend (almost 20 days ago). On Friday night, we rescued a wild baby koala. We found it trying to, in some strange fit of curiosity, cross a dark street near a dangerous roundabout. Good thing there weren’t many cars going past at the time (it was late). The little guy moved excruciatingly slow and kept stopping halfway as it made its way across the road. James had to get out of the car to coax it forward and to ensure cars coming around the bend would see it!

This happened just five minutes away from my house and in all my nine years of living in the area, it was my very first time encountering a wild koala. Kangaroos, sure. Plenty of kangaroos. But that koala was a rare sight indeed.

We had perfect weather on Saturday, so we went to the beach for a bit of a tanning session. It is now the middle of spring and it already feels much like summer. Surfers Paradise was swamped with people who wanted to get some sun. After that, we headed back to James’ house to have a bit of a swim in the pool. It was a wet and salty Saturday.

Sunday was a bit of a bore. Shops were closed because of the Labour Day public holiday. I wanted to buy fruit at 8:30pm, though. The only place we knew that had a chance of being open was the 24/7 fruit barn at Harbour Town. We rocked up, but they didn’t seem to have any good fruit for sale, so I bought some almonds and macadamia nuts instead. James bought a packet of jam drops. Then we drove home. Except no, we decided to drive around and explore some side streets in Coombabah. We were driving around a deserted neighbourhood. No cars around. Very quiet. Then, we came across a car just stopped in the middle of a narrow street with their headlights on. Right in front of the car was an extremely distressed girl hunched over a guy who was laying semi-unconscious on the ground. There was blood everywhere – on the road, all over the girl’s hands and clothes, streaming from the guy’s head… and there was nobody else around.

It very quickly dawned on us that we’d just stumbled upon the site of a recent accident. I won’t elaborate but the whole incident freaked me out. Turns out the guy had been car surfing and the his girlfriend had accelerated too quickly and stopped the car too abruptly, throwing him what seemed like headfirst onto the road. Anyway, we helped as much as we could to calm the girl down and to wait on the paramedics. It really didn’t help that the street was pitch dark and the nearest street lamps were feet away from the scene. That really added to the surreal awfulness of the scene. That girl was terrified and I know that if I were put in her position, I’d be terrified too.

The incident was reported on the news the following day and from what I heard, I believe the guy is alright.

So that was the gist of that intense weekend for you. We didn’t bake, but I made a batch of truffle oil + sea salt + honey roasted almonds & macadamia nuts, the recipe of which I might share with you guys soon! Thanks for reading! I’ll just leave you with some additional random pictures from the following weekend… commencing sexy hair shot in 3, 2, 1…

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

I think we’ve all had the occasional dream where everything that happens in it is really odd, even downright creepy, but we don’t feel at all threatened or scared while it’s happening. In fact, we’re mostly not too concerned and frankly, quite apathetic. And it’s only until after waking up that we think “why was I so calm in that dream? It was terrifying!” Well, that was me when I woke up this morning.

In short, my dream consisted of a global pandemic whereby people who were infected by a virus became crazily aggressive. And even though there was this viral outbreak happening and apparently 68% of the city was infected, everyone still went about their daily lives like nothing bad was happening. I went to work as a mechanic and I liked my job. Some people from high school figured prominently. Life was actually pretty normal, up until I decided to visit a friend on Tamborine Mountain in the middle of the night, who just so happened to be Andrew Garfield. When I got to his house, I discovered that he and a bunch of incredibly creepy babies (!!!!) were infected, but everything turned out okay because Emma Stone saved me, and then we found the cure to the virus (in the form of a magical purple flower that had butterflies flying around it). The dream ended pretty abruptly after that.

Honey and Coconut Oil Chopped Bananas Whittaker's Classic Bittersweet Peanut Slab Dark Chocolate Bars Whittaker's Classic Bittersweet Peanut Slab Dark Chocolate

So yes, that was actually what I dreamt about last night. I don’t usually have many epic dreams, but when I do, they’re pretty memorable. I might make myself a dream diary, just for the fun of it. Or maybe I’ll just keep a record of my dreams on this blog, and you guys can figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me. Anyway, all this talk of dreams has reminded me of an interesting article I read a few weeks ago: The Science of Dreams and Why We Have Nightmares. You guys should totally check it out.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Righto, back to baking. If you need some inspiration for breakfast this weekend, try this recipe. Seriously, it’s good. We had heaps of spelt and coconut flour just sitting in the pantry, plus an outrageous number of jars of honey and lots of bananas at various stages of ripening at our disposal. Key ingredients for a healthy loaf of banana bread, you say? Indeed. We also had an abundance of Whittaker’s Classic Bittersweet Peanut Slab Dark Chocolate Bars at home, so I chopped these up and used them in this recipe. They’ve obviously got chunks of peanuts in them, but plain dark chocolate will also do nicely here.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate ChunksSpelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

You can make this recipe vegan-friendly by substituting the honey with maple syrup and using dairy-free chocolate (Pana Chocolate and Sweet William offer some awesome dairy-free chocolate products that don’t compromise on taste). No eggs, butter or milk was used in this recipe, mainly because we didn’t actually have any at the time. Good thing we had flaxseeds and coconut oil on hand! I have to say, this is probably one of my favourite things I’ve baked so far. With its perfect cake-like texture – firm, yet spongy and crumbly – and a strong banana flavour interspersed with generous amounts of dark chocolate, there is no way anyone could turn down a warm slice or two.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseeds mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 7″ x 4″ loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, melt the coconut oil and honey together (you can do this in a microwave for a few seconds) and stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas and flax egg together, then add the coconut oil and honey mixture and mix well.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Mix well.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and gently stir together until everything is just combined.
  6. Add the hot water and mix well, then carefully fold in the chopped chocolate chunks.
  7. Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring loaf to a wire rack to cool. Best served fresh and still slightly warm.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Tamborine Mountain @ Scenic Rim, Gold Coast Hinterland

Tamborine Mountain

Just sharing some pictures taken during two separate trips up to Tamborine Mountain over the past year (once in Autumn and another in Spring). We don’t often visit Tamborine, despite the fact that the scenic location is just a short 30-minute drive from home. I’m starting to think maybe we should go up there more often to have brunch, maybe make it a kind of weekend ritual – they have some pretty amaaaazing cafes up there. On our last trip, I distinctly remember snacking on some awesome sugar-coated almonds and macadamia nuts that we bought at one of the little shops, hanging out at an adorable cafe while sipping on warm pumpkin soup and nibbling on sourdough, and going on a ridiculously long rainforest walk that seemed to never want to end. Perfect afternoon. Always enjoy the simple things in life, I say.

Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs {vegan}

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Happy Saturday, readers! We made these fairly healthy vegan pancakes for breakfast this morning! I adapted Andrew Olson’s recipe for “The Perfect Vegan Pancakes” into this supercharged version that features the generous flavours of cacao nibs and orange (zest + juice). They turned out fantastic and, quite honestly, proved to be one of the best things to wake up to in the morning!

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

No eggs or dairy here, for those of you looking to cut down on your intake of animal produce. The recipe calls for the old flaxseed + water trick in place of eggs. For those who don’t know, it creates a gooey mixture that acts as a vegan-friendly binder in recipes. Also, instead of butter, grapeseed oil is used, although you can use coconut oil instead for added complexity in flavour.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

There is no sugar in this recipe. Only the natural sweetness of freshly squeezed orange juice is added. The incorporation of orange zest and cacao nibs invite a unique grainy texture to the pancakes, as well as a good dose of vitamins and minerals. Sure, we know plenty about cacao nibs and their superfood status, but believe it or not, there are benefits to eating orange peels too!

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

These are small and cutesy little pancakes – pikelets, if you will. With all the cacao nibs and zest thrown into the mix, the batter ends up being pretty viscous and will not spread too much when ladled onto the frying pan, which is just as well since we’re after thick pancakes. While they don’t exactly turn into puffy pillows like those Fluffy Breakfast Pancakes with Lemon & Honey we made awhile back, these mini pancakes are still pretty good for a filling, guilt-free breakfast.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs {vegan}
adapted from Andrew Olson’s perfect vegan pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons cacao nibs*
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds**
3/4 cup soy milk (or your favourite non-dairy alternative)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

** I used TRU RA’s Cacao Nibs. They’re organic, cold-processed and vegan!
** I used Melrose Organic Golden Flaxmeal. The golden variety tends toward a more subtle flavour in baked goods, whereas brown flax might leave too strong an aftertaste.

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the flax egg, combine the ground flaxseeds with 2 1/2 tablespoons of filtered water in a small cup. Stir and set aside to thicken.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest and cacao nibs. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk with the apple cider vinegar, then stir in the grapeseed oil and the flax egg.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and gently stir together until just combined. Do not mix too thoroughly – lumps in the batter is fine.
  5. Lightly grease a frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once fairly hot, ladle a small amount of batter (up to 1/4 cup) onto the middle of the pan and turn heat down to medium-low. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a preheated oven (set to about 50°C) while you fry up the rest.
  6. Serve pancakes with your syrup of choice and some orange segments.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs