Who Can Say No to Banana Bread?

Who can say no to banana bread? Really… it’s just the best.

After finally handing in an assignment which had taken all of my energy over the past few days, I got the sudden urge to bake something yummy. I was pretty tired so wanted something nice and easy to make. After glancing at sad looking over-ripe bananas in my fruit ball I realised they were calling for me. I hate wasting food, so banana bread it was!

And here is the exciting news. I have made my own banana bread recipe which is low in sugar and also has dairy-free and gluten-free alternatives for those with allergies! Most banana bread recipes use so much sugar which is unnecessary because bananas themselves are naturally really quite sweet. So I hope you enjoy this recipe ;)

Tip: banana bread is best served toasted with a side of butter and accompanied by a hot drink like a cup of coffee or English breakfast tea. Yumzies!!

 

Dry Ingredients:

– ¾ cup of plain flour (use buckwheat flour for a gluten-free alternative)

– ½ cup of almond meal

– 1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder

– ½ teaspoon of baking soda

– 1 teaspoons of cinnamon

– 1 tablespoon of sugar (you can use more if you want, maybe ¼ or up to ½ cup)

– Pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

– 3 very ripe bananas (make sure they are very ripe – as in pretty yucky looking – because you will get most of the sweetness from these bad boys)

– 2 large eggs

– ¼ cup of milk (use nut milk for a dairy-free alternative)

– 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

– 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

–  1/3 cup of melted butter (¼ cup of melted coconut oil if you are dairy-free)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a rectangular loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar.
  4. Mash up your bananas and then add them to the wet mixture. Mix well.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and fold through until combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and chuck in the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Let’s talk about girls (and their issues with food). There, I said it.

R U OK? 

Today is ‘R U OK?’ Day. A day to remind us that a simple question can do a lot.

In this context, I have decided to write about a rather contentious topic. A topic which is difficult to put into words and even more difficult to discuss publicly. However, I have chosen to write a post about it because I think that it is something we need to talk about. Why? Because I am sick of witnessing so many women feeling so guilty for eating a piece of cake, when we have way bigger fish to fry. It may sound silly to some of you, so you don’t have to read on, but I do know a number of girls who have fallen into some degree of depression over this so, in my opinion, it is definitely worth addressing.

Firstly, although I am primarily targeting this post towards girls (simply because I feel that girls are the ones concerned by this more than boys), I am by no means excluding any gender.

The myths about the ‘superfood’ trend (or whatever you want to call it)

Right, so… Girls, let’s talk about food.

Far too many young women are uncomfortable and unhappy about the way they look. One of the biggest causes of this is the over ‘healthy’ trend which has begun to spread everywhere. Everyday we are bombarded with information about what we should or shouldn’t be doing. It seems that the obsession is ‘how to loose weight?’, ‘what’s the best work out to do?’, ‘what is the best detox to do?’ and the list goes on.

Sorry but that just makes me sick.

It’s so freaking stupid that we let ourselves get so carried away with it all. I’m sorry to break it to you but all of these so called ‘healthy’ brands and advocates for healthy/sports only really care about making money. Ok, maybe not all of them, but 99% of them maybe?

Yep, I fell for it too

What can I say… I will admit that I completely fell in this silly vicious cycle too. Thankfully, I stopped myself before it got out of hand as I realised what type of person I was becoming. I also catch myself occasionally falling back into that sort of frame of mind but I quickly move on to something else, something worth my time and worry.

Your guide to a healthy, balanced and happy self

The good news is I have some advice to give to all of you. And I would LOVE for you to get back to me if you have any questions or would like to share your story/advice/thought with me too!

The key is to: keep it simple!

Rule number 1: Don’t over think it

Do not over think what you eat. It is very important to eat heathy, however, there is a difference between being healthy and being ‘over’ healthy. Think back to when you were a child and did not understand the concept of how ice-cream could be bad for you. Eat what you want! Eat bread! Eat three proper meals a day and stop the snacking. When I go to France I witness people who love their food and eat lots. They just know when to stop and they don’t over think it.

Rule number 2: Don’t over do it

Don’t exercise like a maniac. Be active, yes, definitely. That is so important. But you don’t have to do something if you don’t want to. If running is not your thing then walk. Walking to work if a great start. Or doing yoga or joining a team sport maybe? Quit the gym if it makes you unhappy and puts you in a shit mood. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Rule number 3: Don’t follow it

Stop following those stupid Instagram accounts of women who spend their lives spray tanning and staring at themselves in the mirror. Or the accounts that only drink green tea and almonds for breakfast. Read a book instead, or catch up on the world news.

To sum it up

The less you think about it the better you will feel and the better you will look. I promise. If you need to chat to anyone please feel free to contact me.

For more information about R U OK? Day click here.

Need-Help-Now

Downtown Kettle Town!

Attention tea-lovers. I have some fabulous news for you: it’s called Kettle Town.

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Kettle Town is a newly established tea business based in Sydney. What I love the most about Kettle Town is their diversity. Have a look at their tea collection online and you will be stunned by the the range of flavours available to order. Whether you are a traditional black tea lover, or you enjoy sipping on a herbal tea, or maybe you are more found of a fresh iced-tea on a hot summer day (my personal favourite) – either way, Kettle Town has got you covered.

But it doesn’t stop here. What attracted me to this tea brand so much is the quality of their ingredients combined with their beautiful packaging. The tea can be ordered online which is super easy for busy people and who doesn’t love receiving a cute package in their letter box once in a while? I certainly do! The tea is also stocked in a few places around sydney.

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Today I would like to focus on Kettle Town’s new iced-tea collection which particularly appeals to me because this is a cold brew range. I had the pleasure of trying the Eclectic Orange (orange, hibiscus, apple) and the Perfect Peach (oolong, peach, rose) flavours. Recipes containing suggestions of which fruit to add to each iced-tea are provided on Kettle Town’s website which is also really great!

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Cold brew tea is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is to follow these simple steps:

  • Add 4 teaspoons of loose tea in one litre of chilled filtered water in a pitcher.
  • Steep overnight in fridge.
  • Strain tea from water the next morning and serve on ice cubes and with added fruits if desired.

For instant tea:

  • Bring 250 ml water to boil.
  • Add 4 teaspoons of loose tea and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Strain leaves from hot water, add a cup full of ice cubes with 500 ml cold water then serve.

My thoughts on Kettle Town’s Iced-Tea?

I love it. I love the fresh, delicate tea leaves and ingredients which are used. I love the smell and taste of the tea. I love the convenience of being able to order the tea online. And finally, I love the way the tea allows one to make a completely refined sugar-free drink which is very tasty, refreshing and healthy!

Eclectic Orange

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This iced-tea is a light and tangy refreshing drink combining the eclectic flavours of orange, hibiscus and apple. Sipping on this cold drink is very refreshing and provides a beautiful alternative to unhealthy, sugary drinks. The iced-tea is best served with thin slices of lemon and orange along with a sprinkle of mint. I would suggest serving this tea around lunch time or for afternoon tea. Prepare a large jug as it is likely to be finished quickly!

Note: Kettle Town suggests adding a dash of good quality gin to this tea for entertainment. I haven’t had a chance to give it a try but that does sound very appealing!!

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Perfect Peach

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Perfect Peach contains oolong leaves as well as hints of rose and apple. This blend has a stronger tea taste than Eclectic Orange which brings a very calm and soothing sensation. I enjoyed drinking this iced-tea with pieces of fresh pineapple and peach which added a bit of natural sweetness to the drink. I find this tea very tropical which left me feeling fresh and detoxed! You could try adding some passionfruit to lift the flavours even more and give it an extra boost of sweetness and tanginess!

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I can’t wait to try more of Kettle Town’s tea range, that’s for sure…

Thriving for balance whilst flying

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When a young dragon-fly sets off for its first flight this small but nonetheless intricately beautiful insect must feel a rush of adrenaline pumping through its tiny body. When a baby is able to stand up straight and take his or her first steps walking, the same sort of feeling must be experienced. Whenever one is subjected to a new and exciting experience something inside of us tells us that we should never let go of it and pursue it no matter what it takes. I believe that this principle can be applied to an endless list of things.

But let me ask you, do you think there could be any ‘danger’ associated with such ‘rush of adrenaline’ or ‘over satisfaction’ (if I may call it that way)? Well… Strangely, I think there certainly could be.

Allow me to elaborate by drawing a rather distant connection with the two situations aforementioned that will, hopefully, elucidate my point.

About a year ago, I started to get really into running, and with this naturally came the desire to become healthier. So I started to read more and more about food, sports, yoga – wellness in general. And it was great. I ran my first half-marathon and it was one of the most amazing experience of my life so far (I am not even exaggerating)! I experienced with different food – did a vegan detox, started to incorporate more vegetables and fruits to my diet, cut back on processed food and refined sugar. I started to become hooked to feeling healthy.

But, somehow, although I was doing all the ‘right’ things I slowly saw myself become a bit too focused on this aspect of my life, so much that it became a bit of an obsession (a strong obsession). How weird is that?! How weird is the fact that, because I was loving being healthy so much, I started to become too harsh on myself, too restrictive. After a while, I realised that I had fallen into a ‘binge-restrict-binge-restrict’ type of relationship with my own self. And it hurt. I was not happy about the way I looked, my sporting capabilities and I made myself feel so bad for eating ‘unhealthy food’.

To be frank, I feel silly writing this. Why? Because I am so lucky to have access to such good food and live in a beautiful area where I am able to go out and about close to the sea and nature. Sydney is a beautiful place to live in. Sydney is a very much ‘health and fitness’ orientated place. But, sadly, I have noticed that around me some people have become so hooked on to this ‘healthy’ lifestyle that it has started to severely negatively affect them. This ‘syndrome’ is particularly prone to young women.

So, just like a dragon-fly might take its flying capabilities a bit too far and get trapped in a house (like the dragon fly in the image above got trapped in my room – don’t worry I let it free after I took a photo of it) or like a young child might fall after walking too fast for its little legs to handle, we can sometimes turn amazing opportunities into dangerous situations. I am so glad that I was able to realise that I was falling into a bad routine which was not healthy anymore because I had taken things too far.

What is the solution to this problem? It’s easy. It starts with the letter B and is in the title of this post. Yes, you guessed it right: BALANCE!

Everyone is different. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to lead your life. If you want to exercise then do. If you want to eat chocolate, then do. If you want to go out for some drinks, then do. As long as you do this to make yourself happy not because of what other people think of you then you are nailing it! Being healthy does not mean never eating ‘bad’ food or exercising everyday. It’s about finding the right balance that works for YOU.

If you love something, do it as much as you want UNTIL you hear the little voice inside of you saying ‘okay I think I’ve had enough now’, I’m going to take it easy for bit and do other things. Listening to your own body is a skill which one must learn to embrace.

After all, we are all beautiful so let’s not over think anything too much and enjoy the life we have been given.

<3

Guide to running a Half-Marathon for the first time

Let me tell you a little story about my journey towards being able to run my first half-marathon. I have always been a rather outgoing and sporty person. I love the way running makes me feel. When I study for a long time or just have a lot of my mind I find that going for a run is the best cure to clear my head. Even if I haven’t done anything all day but I have gone for a run with my dog I feel like I’ve achieved something. However, the idea that I would actually complete a half-marathon this year would have never crossed my mind 12 months ago!! 

 

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For those who  would like to be able to run the city2surf or a half-marathon (or any similar running event) keep on reading for some helpful tips!

 

Happiest 5km – The Colour Run

 

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At the beginning of the year I would usually run a casual 5km (about 30 minutes run) around my block about three times a week. I then signed up for the 5km Colour Run. This event was truly fantastic! I ran with a few girlfriends of mine and we had lots of fun and did not find it too hard at all. 

 

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Nike Run

After having completed my first running event I decided to try something a little bit more challenging so I signed up for the 10km Nike Run. I had never run 10km before so decided to do a little bit of training. I slowly began to run for a longer period of time. One day I actually did a full 10km run and found it rather difficult! I ran it in about 1h10minutes which is pretty average speed but a bit slow. I was happy though, all I wanted was to know I would be able to cross the finish line of the Nike Run! On the day of the event I forgot my Ipod so I was worried about running for so long without any music to keep me motivated… However, being surrounded by so many other runners really gave me a boost of energy and I finished the race in 55minutes. My pace was pretty uneven throughout the race though. I realised that I was running much faster by the end of the race than at the beginning which surprised me! Upholding a regular speed was something I wanted to focus on for my half-marathon as a way to save energy during the run.

 

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City2Surf

 

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My next challenge was to run the city2surf. Again this was my first time running that particular race. I did not have a strict training program. What I tried to do was to exercise 3 to 4 times a week with one 5-7km easy run, one or two gym sessions (so either weights training or cardio or a mix of the two) and one longer run per week (about 8-10km). I never actually ran more than 10km while training so I was a bit nervous to do the full 14km especially because I heard the ‘heartbreak hill’ was a killer. When it finally came to the day of the event I was feeling a bit sick with the beginning of a cold. However, that did not stop me from finishing the race. It was such an amazing event particularly because so many people participate in it and finishing at Bondi Beach was such a highlight! My finishing time was 82 minutes which I was quite pleased with. However, I had a pretty bad recovery! I had a really bad fever the two days following the race and my cold got worse. I would advise to really avoid doing intense exercise if you are sick, even if it is just the beginning of the illness. Nevertheless, I did really enjoy the race and I am planning on doing it next year again!

 

Note: I went out a couple of nights before the race and I really paid the price! My advice is to keep away from alcohol for about a week prior to a long race, you will feel much better during and after the run that’s for sure!

 

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Blackmores Sydney Half-Marathon

 

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This running event was definitely the one I was most worried about. You really need to train to be able to comfortably run 21km. The reason for which I wanted to train was not only to be able to complete the course but also because I wanted a much better recovery than the one after the city2surf.

 

Running Food 

I bought a few fitness and running magazines to obtain some proper information and advice on how to prepare for a long race. I realised that what I was eating really influenced my performance. Basically, if you are going to go for a long run make sure that you eat some good food (preferably carbohydrates) about an hour (or more) before your run. Carbs doesn’t just mean white break or pasta. You can find healthier forms of carbohydrates very easily. Examples include:

  • Cereals, grains and nuts
  • Vegetables, especially starchy veg like potatoes, corn, peas and beans.
  • Fruit, particularly apples, bananas and pear
  • Dairy food like milk, cheese and yoghurt.

 

Personally, I like having either some roasted almonds or maybe some muesli with fruit before my run. I usually eat about an hour before I exercise. If I don’t eat before I run I can feel very low on energy and tired which makes the run unpleasant and if I’m really tired I may even fall over or just run much slower than usually because I’m just not as focused. 

 

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Running gear

Another important thing is running gear. I invested in some proper running shoes because I found that running for a long time started to hurt my knees. I immediately felt the difference with trainers which have more support. I also suggest running with some good pumping music, it helps me keep motivated! Other than that, as long as you have a good pair of shorts or leggings and a comfortable top there are no rules as to what you should wear while running!

 

 

Training Guide

I strongly believe that there is not one specific way to train for a half-marathon. Everyone is different and so I would suggest simply listening to your body and only using this training plan as a guide. I made myself a simple training plan based on a guide I found in a running magazine. This is a 10-week program. However, if you are a generally sporty person don’t worry if you only start the training about 6 weeks before the race, that should still allow you enough time to get well trained for the race. Remember, the aim of the training is to make your body used to long distance running. To me, running is only a question of habit. Once your body is used to running for long periods of time you will find that you can easily complete a half-marathon without too much pain along the way!

 

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Week 1:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – 30 minute run

Wednesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 40 minute run of gym session (group class exercise for example)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 10 km run

 

 

Week 2:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – 30 minute run

Wednesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 40 minute run of gym session (group class exercise for example)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 10 km run

 

  

Week 3:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Wednesday – 40 minute run

Thursday – Rest

Friday – High intensity interval training at the gym

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 12 km run

 

  

Week 4:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – 40 minute run

Wednesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 40 minute run of gym session (group class exercise for example)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 13 km run

 

 

Week 5:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – High intensity interval training at the gym

Wednesday – 50 minute run

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 15 km run

 

 

Week 6: (this is recovery week, so reduced volume and no fast running)

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – 40 minute relaxed run

Wednesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 30 minute relaxed run

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 10 km run

 

  

Week 7:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – 50 minute run

Wednesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 15 km run

 

 

Week 8:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – 50 minute run

Wednesday – High intensity interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 40 minute run

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 15 km run

 

 

Week 9:

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Wednesday – 50 minute run

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 40 minute run or interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 10 km run

 

 

Week 10

Monday – Rest or cross train (gym etc)

Tuesday – Interval training at the gym (try to do both cardio and weights)

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Enjoy your first half-marathon!

Sunday – Recovery

 

  

About the actual event

 The Blackmores Half-Marathon began at about 6:30 in the morning. I am not a morning runner so I was a bit worried about that! I made sure I woke up early and I had some muesli with banana for breakfast. This gave me some good energy for the race. As soon as I began running I couldn’t help but smile. The course was amazing. We began by running over the harbour bridge and then ran down to the circular quay. After running for about 17km I started the get sore legs but I just pushed through. Listening to my iPod and being surrounded by so many runners of all ages helped me keep motivated. I was so glad that I had trained because the run was not nearly as difficult as I expected it to be, just because my body was used to running long distances! I finished the race in 2h08minutes which I was very pleased about. My new aim is do run a half-marathon in under 2hours and maybe one day run a full marathon!

 

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Recovery

As a general rule, the more you train the better your recovery will be. However, due to the length of the run it is very likely that your legs will feel tight and a bit sore after the run no matter how much you  trained. A great way to minimise muscle pain is to hop in a cold pool, bath or shower after your run. The cold water will help the blood circulation in your muscles. I was really surprised to see how much it helped my muscles! Having a magnesium chloride salt bath is another way to help muscle recovery. Make sure you drink lots of fluid as you will be dehydrated from the race. Eating food high in protein after sports also enhances muscle recovery.  

 

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I hope this post inspires you to get outside and start running because, trust me, it is the best thing you could do for yourself.