November 27, 2011

What is edamame and skinny edamame bean dip

Anytime I get Japanese food, I always order edamame beans. A fresh, salty and bright green bowl of these little pods are the perfect dish to share with friends, or to have all to yourself. While this dish may have a tricky name (ed-a-mar-may) they may be best interpreted as green soybeans. They are a much better snack than empty carbs (think chips, pretzels or rice crackers) as they are packed in vitamins, fibre and protein.

Edamame is easy to make at home; simply boil for a few minutes and drain, sprinkling in sea salt. The beans also make a great base for a creamy dip, which packs a healthy punch.

To make this delicious edamame dip (which I found in the latest issue of Women's Health Australia) you need the following ingredients:

1 cup frozen shelled edamame*
2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

*Sometimes you can't find shelled edamame beans at the grocery store (look where the peas are found). If you can, try your local Asian food store, they will have it in the freezer section. If you do buy edamame beans, check they are shelled for this recipe, otherwise you will have to pop them out of their pods, which could be a little time consuming!

Boil the soybeans in a small saucepan for about 4 minutes. Drain and put into a food processor, adding the basil, oil, lemon and salt. Blend for a minute until smooth. Serve with fresh vegetable sticks (celery, carrot and capsicum, and baked pita chips.) Make baked pita chips by slicing wholemeal pita bread in pieces, spraying with oil and sprinkling in seasoning, and baking in a hot oven for 10 minutes or until browned.

November 22, 2011

A skinny alternative to potato chips

Put down those chips because I have a much better way to quell your craving! My favourite savoury treat is a little gem called Rice Wheels. But they are not chips you cry?! They taste the same, BUT BETTER! Not only do these little puffed rice snacks taste delicious, they contain a mere 70 calories per packet. The cheese flavour is my favourite but they come in roast chicken, barbeque and burger. Yum! Baked not fried, they are also gluten free. They are called Rice Wheels by Healtheries, I buy mine in Coles - in the organic/health food section.

Cupcake and ice-cream soaps

When you are practising diet restraint and weakness emerges, why not treat yourself to something indulgent. Indulgency does not have to equal calories; neither does cupcakes or icecream. BGentle has a sugary collection of soaps, made in Victoria, which are so pretty they would qualify for the most sophisticated high tea. Just don't get too tempted to take a bite! Browse their gorgeous catalogue.

I classify this as an EXTREME skinny sweet!

Create your own happy space

The way my apartment looks and feels is an integral part of shaping my mood. A messy space equates to a disorganised day; I just don't feel as in control of my environment, which tends to lead to wayward diet habits and neglectful exercising philosophies. The first picture of this post is of my little living room, my favourite happy place. While the second picture attached to my post is not that of my apartment - sadly - (it is pictures of Megan Hess's gorgeous home and an accompanying illustration from her collection), the look does inspire me on how to decorate my own home.

Adding lighting, candles, vintage frames, fresh blooms, rugs and artwork are a way to make your space looked 'lived in' and stylish. I fill my apartment with scented candles, my fave cooking and fashion books, kitchy colourful pieces, vintage crockery, old Hollywood prints and faux flowers in hand-me-down vases.

When I have spent an hour dedicated to sprucing up my space, it really puts a kick in my step for the day when I am proud of my own little piece of the world. A happy home translates to a happy you, which is an important part of taking care of yourself. This weekend, think about a few little touches you could add to your home; pop down to your local antique store, make a day trip to Ikea (is a work-out in itself!), travel to the markets for some cheap and cheerful blooms, or rip out the vacuum - yes it really can make all the difference! You will be surprised how good it can make you feel.

Gluten-free low-fat turkey lasagna

I made this delicious turkey lasagne for dinner with gluten-free mini lasagne sheets and ricotta and spinach sauce. So nutritious, I felt healthier with every mouthful. Make this on a Friday afternoon (it doesn't take long I promise) and have a go-to-meal after a night out. A much better choice than greasy pizza or nutrition-less two-minute noodles.

500 grams of turkey mince
4 sheets of gluten-free lasagna sheets
1 large bottle of pasta sauce
10 mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopeed
1 small sweet potato
1 packet of frozen spinach
1 packet of ricotta cheese (low-fat or extra light)
1/4 cup of parmesan
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/4 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of hot water
1 teaspoon of dried basil

Pour one teaspoon of oil into a deep pan and add mushrooms and carrots. Cook on high heat until browned then turn the heat down to simmer until soft, add a little water to prevent burning. Add the turkey mince, slicing with a knife to seperate the strands on meat before adding to pan. When all meat if browned, add the pasta sauce, water, wine, salt and pepper, sugar and basil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Microwave the frozen spinach for 4 minutes and drain. Mix this with the ricotta and season to taste.

Prepare a wide and deep lasagna dish with a layer of lasagne sheet. Add 1/2 of the sauce mix. Cover with half the spinach and ricotta mixture and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Layer again the lasagna sheets, the remainder of the meat sauce, ricotta mixture and parmesan cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes.

Serve with a green salad if desired.

November 21, 2011

Unrealistic image, unrealistic diet

Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima is regretting spilling her diet and exercise regime to prepare for the catwalk. It only confirms to me that the bodies these girls display are not achievable by the average girl. Adriana works out intensely for months before the event and follows a strict diet, consuming only liquids nine days before the show. She also won't have any liquids including water for 12 hours before the show to lose a few pounds quickly, similarly to that of a body builders program.

I understand that Adriana doesn't live by these rules for the whole year but in doing this preparation, this is the body she will display to millions of viewers. Young girls feel the pressure to emulate this body and the fact that she has gained this physique through unrealistic measure does equate to an unrealistic figure.

While girls like Miranda Kerr will emphasise they live by a healthy lifestyle, it does pay to remember these bodies are not what most can achieve. Remember to eat healthy, treat yourself a few times a week and exercise for 30 minutes a day. Be accepting of what your body is when you do your best.

November 20, 2011

5 easy steps to make your own pecan pie

I made pecan pie for a special treat after Sunday night dinner (which was gorgeous fresh salmon sashimi with salad). It was rustic looking and very rich in flavour, everyone loved it. I served it with organic honey yoghurt. Just stick to one piece. Unless you are having a serious meltdown (think Sookie Stackhouse devouring her Gran's pecan pie), then maybe you can have two pieces.

In fact, a recent medical report claimed visualising gorging yourself on an entire pie, packet of lollies or bar of chocolate can ward off your craving. That might not help your mental state though.... in any case, here is my recipe!

1 quantity of short-crust pastry
250 grams of pecan nuts
50 grams of brown sugar
50 grams of caster sugar
60 grams of malossas
200 grams of rice malt syrup
50 grams of butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1. Defrost the frozen pastry and roll out on a floured board using a rolling pin. I try to make the pastry thin as it reduces the fat content. Unfold this rolled pastry into a flan dish or pie tin. Chop 2/3 of the pecan nuts.
2. Beat the 3 eggs and two sugar together until pale and creamy (this takes a few minutes in an electric mixer).
3. Melt the butter in the microwave and add the syrups. Slowly add this mixture to the eggs and sugar, continually beating. Add the cinnamon and vanilla. Gently mix in the pecan nuts.
4. Pour this mixture into the pie shell and arrange the left-over pecan nuts (1/3 cup) around the top of the pie.
5. Bake in a 180 degree oven for 50 minutes or until nuts are crispy and pie shell is golden.

November 18, 2011

Sarah Michelle Gellar workout routine

My favourite vampire slayer has moved on to have a beautiful daughter Charlotte and reaching almost 10 years with her husband Freddie Prinze Junior. Now she has matured, she has reached a point where she doesn't want to put as much pressure on herself as she once did on maintaining a perfect body.

She said in Self Magazine; 'You can't live your life by the scale. We don't even have one in our house. I've never believed in them, because your weight fluctuates,' she told the magazine.

'I still work out, but not five days a week. I do Pilates, I run on the treadmill, I walk to the soundstage rather than taking the cart,' she says.

'I wish I could say I was in the best shape of my life right now, but I don't put the same pressure on myself that I used to. So I don't rock a bikini on Wilshire Boulevard... but I don't know many people who do!'

'I think when I was doing Buffy I was a little bit thin, actually, because even though I was working out constantly, it was just the time and the age.

'But I was happy being pregnant, too. I’m not as critical as I used to be about my body.'

'It's more about how my clothing fits than a number.'

'Besides, if you deny yourself everything because you're so focused on the mirror or the scale, then when do you get to enjoy life?'

Nicole Richie perfect summer style

Summer doesn't have to mean scary skimpy clothes that give you a panic attack as the cooler months draw to a close. Nicole Richie shows that floaty dresses are the most gorgeous summer option and don't involve needing to douse yourself in cellulite cream, fake tan and forgiving shimmery bronzer. I like to pair a maxi dress of this style (my fave brand for stunning pieces is naturally Nicole's own line - Winter Kate) with another Nicole trend, the vintage denim jacket. I recently bought a cute pale blue Wrangler jacket that dresses up summer outfits instantly, paired over a floral dress or even to walk to the gym.

As my gym is in the middle of the city, I like to feel more put together than wearing a singlet and shorts when I venture in to do a workout. I roll the sleeves of my jacket up, put of some bright Napolean lipgloss (I love pink) and braid the side of my hair to make my ponytail look a little more special. That way I can run errands after my work out without feeling like a sweaty betty!

Anna Kournakova gym secrets

You can't hate this girl for the way she looks because I guarantee she works for it. Anna has had a disciplined schedule of exercising and eating healthily since she was 12 years old. Growing up in a strict Russian family, Anna learned to stay on schedule to get the results she wanted. Even though she does not play tennis on the professional circuit, Anna is still a role model for fitness. Read her impressive bio on her website and get inspired.

Sunshine is skinny sweet weather

When it is beautifully sunny, the sky is impossibly perfect and blue, and the water is glittering with shards of sunlight, the world does seem like a better place. The birds are creating a chorus of tweets and the river is creating a calming lapping rythem.
When I am feeling happy, I feel less like I need a skinny sweet or treat by my side to brighten up the day. Even better, it encourages me to get out and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful world outside and burn off those calories. Hope it is as gorgeous as it is here today wherever you are.

Skinny anzac cookies

The coconut, butter and golden syrup combination create a very intoxicating smell as you bake these lovely sunshine coloured cookies. For my adapted recipe, I still used 50 grams of butter as I think it is an important component of the flavour. I replaced the golden syrup with organic honey that I had in the pantry. The oats increase the healthfulness of this recipe and reducing the fat means it qualifies as a skinny sweet. The coconut adds fat but as it is a natural product, I don't worry too much. If you want to cut the fat down more, only add 1/2 cup of the coconut and add extra oats.

What are Anzac Cookies? The acronym ANZAC was coined in 1915 when Australian and New Zealand troops were training in Egypt. The word ANZAC was eventually applied to all Australian and New Zealand soldiers in World War 1. The term is particularly associated with the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. They were baked by the wives, mothers and sisters of soldiers in the war and sent to provide home comforts and much needed energy.

Skinny Anzac Cookies

1 cup of plain flour
1 cup of oats
1 cup of shredded coconut
1/4 cup of organic honey or golden syrup
50 grams of butter
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of bicarb soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of water
Extra water if needed

Sift the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter and honey in the microwave and add the teaspoon of vanilla essence, water and bicarb. Stir in the coconut into the flour mixture and make a well in the centre. Add the melted butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. Add extra water if the mixture seems a little dry.

Place tablespoons of the mixture onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 15 minutes, or until golden. Take out of oven and leave to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further.

Limoncello Gelato

Limoncello, a true Italian treat, has a special meaning for me. I am certainly not Italian, but was introduced to authentic Italian food as a child. Our summer holidays every year were spent at the beach staying at a sweet little hotel right on the sand's edge. Room service was provided by the Italian restaurant below, called 'Lindoni's'. We learned to decipher the complicated menu and began tasting some very new flavours, 'umming' and 'ahhing' at truffles and porcini mushroom.

Every year, my grandparents and my family would toast my dad and my grandad's birthdays at this gorgeous authentic Italian restaurant at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. We would enjoy garlic and tomato bruschetta, creamy veal and mushroom tortellini and grilled Moretan Bay bugs. As the evening drew to a close, the two dad's would start having some shots of Limoncello. My grandad's jubiliant face would get rosy and his laugh would become more exhuberant. It was such happy times and became a treasured tradition. While at that time, I didn't indulge in the pastime, the mere concept of the drink reminds me of those happy nights together.

If you are not ready to drink the alcohol unmasked, try this delicious sorbet recipe. I found this courtesy of Marie Claire - always such stylish recipes!

3 lemons, juiced and rind, finely grated, plus 2-3 lemons extra for serving
190g icing sugar
450ml softened low-fat vanilla ice cream
3 tablespoons limoncello, chilled

Place lemon juice and zest into a bowl, stir in sugar and leave for 30 minutes. In another bowl, whip cream and limoncello until soft peaks form, then beat into lemon mixture. Place mix into a container and freeze overnight. To make limoncello gelato wedges, halve extra lemons lengthways, scoop out flesh, fill with gelato then freeze. Cut segments in half again lengthways before serving.

jeez not jell-o! the revival of jelly moulds

Jelly really is very underated. It is the perfect skinny sweet, the low-calorie mixes are so low on the radar you could eat a whole punch bowl of jelly without guilt (but I am sure there would be other consequences...).

Get creative with your jelly and add fruit to your favourite flavours and select moulds that make your dessert as fun to look at as it will be to eat!

wedding shoes - glitter bows by Kate Spade

While not a skinny sweet, these gorgeous glittering gold creations are certainly a treat. In fact, they are my wedding shoes. Not too high, they are so comfortable but absolutely breathtaking. I will make sure I have many moments to reveal them in all their glory... Just a note, the glitter on these heels makes for a catchy finish and my shoes were pulling the threads underneath my wedding dress. Haven't figure out how to solve that problem yet!

Missoni plates

I find that the more special you make your meal, the more of a treat it becomes. Regardless of the calorie count, you can make your snacks feel very special by using some gorgeous crockery. After developing a rather unhealthy obsession with Missoni's divine towels, bathrobes and throw, I was soon delighted by their sumptious crockery selection. In true Missoni style, the ceramic collection features stylish bright colours in summery patterns, which look delectable all on their own. Once you pop a few of your skinny sweets on top of your margarita dessert plate, you are instantly in part of the Mad Hatter's tea party, sans the calories.