The Chronicles of a Strange Vannessa

Life in allergies, healthy living, and being a mermaid on the beach.

pomegranate & sunbutter granola bar

Along with my late discovery of Sunbutter, comes the incorporation of it into some form of a breakfast bar. Solely because Sunbutter has been, by far, the closest thing I’ve been capable of eating to peanut butter, that won’t kill me/send me into a week of being very sick. I tried a hand at making roasted pumpkin seed butter before but I wasn’t entirely happy with the texture.

So yes, it’s gotta be Sunbutter for now.

sunbutter breakfast bars

These bars are dairy-free, sugar-free, and completely raw & vegan with a nutty, chewy texture. The buckwheat groats give little pockets of crunch when you munch, so all’s good in my eyes :) Don’t laugh at the instructions below. They’re just that simple.

Ingredients
1 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup psyllium husk
1/2 cup raw hemp hearts
7 medjool dates
2 heaping tbsp of Sunbutter
Splash of oat milk

Instructions
1. Blend everything.
2. Mould into bars.

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Received this lovely subscription box last Christmas (I’m beyond late on this and while I would like to conveniently blame my life for being tossed up in the air – that’s not justifiable, sorry!!) and I’ve been meaning to follow up my post on Instagram with a quick review of this cardboard box of gifts. intheBOX is a quarterly subscription box service chockfull of trial sized, high quality, natural, healthy and eco-conscious products. Perfect for the consumer who wants to try EVERYTHING but not blow their money on full-sized products (i.e. me).

I was hit by strong, relaxing aromatherapy scents upon unboxing and honestly, there’s nothing quite like unveiling a box full of surprises because EVERYTHING consists of “OMG WHAT IS THIS DOES IT HAVE A SMELL?????”. I got soy wax melts in the scent “Ocean Breeze”, Japanese green tea, Sunyata aromatic dough, organic moringa powder, Theo10 natural balm, Coco Shambhala shower gel and lotion and a delicious (and very large) vegan cookie to nibble on. Subscription boxes tend to give consumers a whole load of crap to be honest, but intheBOX does a great job curating their products. Plus, the people there were so immensely kind to ensure none of the products in my box had any nuts in them (cue my nut allergy). And that alone completely made my day.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe soy wax melts were my favourite – look at that colour!! As well as the organic moringa powder because well, I’m Smoothie Queen for a good reason. And I need to talk about the Sunyata aromatic dough because I was honestly just…a little bewildered at the thought of “aromatic dough“, but I read the instructions and took it out of its case. You’re supposed to mould and play with it and be relaxed by the specific essential oils infused into that blend. Kind of like Playdoh for adults.

So either I’m 1. Not all grown up yet or 2. Have a strange obsession with squeezing and pressing dough between my hands – I LOVE THIS THING!!!!! God bless my inner hippie. I am a 23-year-old child.

You can check out more info about intheBOX at their website here!

Over the weekend, I booked my flights to Hanoi and back from Hai Phong. Meanwhile, I’m wrestling with my train ticket to Sapa with the B&B I’m going to be staying at…and the Hai Phong part of my trip has yet to be figured out haha. I finally settled on Vietnam for a couple of reasons.

1. I’ve never been to Vietnam
2. Would do Cambodia, but I’ve been to Siem Reap already and will probably head back to cover it more thoroughly, with Phnom Penh as well
3. Was advised that Myanmar is a little tricky to travel alone
4. It’ll be nice to go up north for a little bit of cold, and then come back home for Christmas :)

It’s still a little surreal that I’m really going at it alone. I’ve tagged along with my dad on his business trip to Germany & Switzerland, and explored Zurich myself in the day while he was at work, and his boss’s sons took me around in Germany while he was working. I went about Siem Reap on my own as well while my mom was in seminars all day – woke up at 5am to catch a tuk tuk in the dark, bought my entrance ticket to the Angkor Wat and explored the temple away from all the tourists clamouring for that iconic sunrise shot across the lake. It was amazing. I went into the empty grounds and it was just me, 2 wandering monks and a backpacker or two. I climbed up the narrow steps of an ancient library and sat at the top, dangling my legs precariously over the edge and waited for my own view of the sunrise. Beautiful and so breathtaking. The rest of Siem Reap was smooth going solo and every bit as amazing as I had anticipated it would be. But yeah, those were lone explorations as well and I came back to someone I knew at night. This time it’s me and me alone all the way. I think I’ll do an entire post just on the thoughts for it next time.

But on to my main point: the people over at 1872 Clipper Tea are one of my favourites to work with! They’d previously sent me lots of tea and then even more (!!) :o with the new launch of their online store. Now that Christmas is coming, they’ve very kindly sent over their latest collection of tea, “A Season of Magic”. I’m usually not a fan of cloyingly sweet teas, so I was quite surprised when I fell in love with these teas just from a single whiff. Plus, the tea blends even LOOK like Christmas – complete with pretty Christmassy sprinkles and all.

1872 Clipper Tea

These are the descriptors for each of the teas:

Shoemaker’s Elves: A merry blend of smooth green tea, orange peel, sweet cinnamon with a splash of sunflower petals, blue mallow flowers and safflower. This sweet, floral brew also tastes wonderful when iced.
The Nutcracker: A rich and luxurious blend of black tea and decadent white chocolate, laced with rose petals for a light, floral accent and topped with holly sprinkles for that added festive cheer.
Rudolph: A rich and luxurious blend of black tea and decadent white chocolate, laced with rose petals for a light, floral accent and topped with holly sprinkles for that added festive cheer.

My favourite’s The Nutcracker! :D

My mom thinks I have too much tea but SERIOUSLY there is no such thing as “too much tea”. Or candles. And maybe perfumes.

Definitely chocolate.

Nom.

A little while back (before this blog existed), the lovely people from SuperNature contacted me with a proposal for a pretty cool collaboration! I got invited down to their store at Forum Shopping Mall and got to pick a whole bunch of goodies to make a series of breakfast smoothie bowls, courtesy of SuperNature :) They delivered my picks to my home thereafter and I was INCREDIBLY excited to create breakfasts with products I’ve always wanted to try!!

supernature organic

The organic produce I had consisted of red kale, golden beetroot, white and yellow peaches – I LOVE PEACHES. Kate from SuperNature very kindly threw in organic/vegan chocolate that I’d been ogling at in the store and honestly…that bar of yogurt/mango/coconut white chocolate is quite possibly the best white chocolate I’ve had. I mean, I REALLY FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. I’M PRETTY CAPABLE OF WIPING IT OUT IN ONE SITTING I’M SURE. Bits of coconut & mango in a yogurty white chocolate is just. Beyond. Greatness. A girl’s gotta have her chocolate fix ;)

peach smoothie bowl

Peach smoothie bowl with sliced yellow peach, vegan mango coconut white chocolate, coconut flakes & bee pollen

Ingredients
2 frozen bananas
1 white peach
1/2 yellow peach
A splash of soy milk to blend

Top with vegan chocolate, sliced peaches, coconut flakes & bee pollen

maqui berry raspberry smoothie bowl

Maqui berry & raspberry smoothie bowl with banana, organic berry granola, vegan goji berry chocolate, raw hemp hearts & coconut flakes

Ingredients
2 frozen bananas
Handful of raspberries
1/2 tsp maqui berry powder
A splash of soy milk to blend

Top with sliced banana, organic berry granola, Ombar goji berry chocolate, raw hemp hearts & coconut flakes

kale smoothie bowl

Kale & beetroot smoothie bowl with sliced white peach, dried black figs & bee pollen

Ingredients
4 stalks red kale
1 small chunk gold beetroot
3 frozen bananas
1/2 white peach
A splash of soy milk to blend

Top with sliced white peach, dried black figs & bee pollen

maqui berry superfood bowl

Maqui berry, blackberry, blueberry & raspberry smoothie bowl (bursting with antioxidants!!) with organic berry granola, fresh berries & vegan goji berry chocolate

Ingredients
Handful of frozen blackberries, blueberries & raspberries
1/2 tsp maqui berry powder
1 1/2 frozen banana
A splash of soy milk to blend

Top with organic berry granola, Ombar goji berry chocolate & fresh berries

cacao smoothie bowl

Cacao-maca smoothie bowl with a peppermint spinach swirl, topped with raw cacao nibs, hemp hearts & bee pollen

Ingredients
3 frozen bananas
2 handfuls spinach
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tbsp raw cacao powder

Thank you SuperNature for providing me with the opportunity to do a collaboration that was so yum! xx

It’s a Tuesday and I’m still gathering myself, while working from home. Everything feels like I’d just tossed it all in the air, and am still waiting to catch them when they come back down. The past 2 days have been an uncertain pause while everything still moves at a glacial pace – an extension of my feelings when I let myself feel it; an unfamiliar weight gracing familiar spaces.

Everything is new again. I guess after 3 years of doing things a certain way with someone…everything is new again now.

I’m waiting for my mom to come home from Taiwan because the house feels too empty with my brother in camp. It kind of feels like I’ve a habit of transiting out of relationship statuses when my mom is out of town. It matters a little when I feel sorely young and inept at life once more, and a couple of words from an older perspective helps.

This coming December, I will spend it exhausting myself – beaming at everything (and part of my work) coming to life on a certain big day. Then I will clear some of my leave and carry the remaining days over to 2015. I will spend a couple of days alone in a Southeast Asian country somewhere before coming back for Christmas and my 23rd birthday. I’ll blow out the candles on my birthday cake with my best friend, and the people who have been nothing but pillars for me will be there too. I’ll say goodbye to 2014, with its entirety of love and graduation and newfound jobs and growing up. I’ll start 2015 being in Bali for a couple of days and maybe, just maybe…I’ll be a whole lot better by then.

Here’s to bravery and courage, faith and hope, life – and a whole lot of love one day.

One Sunday morning, I came across a red silicone baking tray made up of many tiny little squares…and figured THIS was how I was going to make raw chocolatey brownies, freezer-style, without potentially hurling a metal deep dish of vegan brownies across the living room. Silicone trays = cute pop-out brownies! And a certain level of sanity. I had been looking at a particular recipe of @acrunchyhazelnut on Instagram for a while now (my god, that girl’s feed is just spot on) and made a nut-free adaptation of it!

IMG_0054

Ingredients
8 medjool dates
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
50g dark vegan chocolate
50g coconut oil
30g + 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp dried coconut flakes
1 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Instructions
1. Blend 8 medjool dates, 2 tbsp dried coconut flakes, 2 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds & a pinch of salt
2. Press mixture firmly into squares (or any pan you’re using)
3. Warm in a pan until liquid – 30g raw cacao powder, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 50g dark vegan chocolate, 50g coconut oil
4. Pour on top of brownie mixture & put in freezer until set

*I keep them in the freezer and only pop out however many I want to eat when I want to eat it! Alternatively, you can keep them in a tupperware and put them in the fridge or freezer :)

Other healthy substitutions
For brownie mix: Replace sunflower seeds with any nuts, pumpkin seeds, or even buckwheat groats

 

Biggest hit amongst all my friends and family who were kind guinea pigs for my adaption of this recipe from @beautifulsimplehealth on Instagram! They turned out much better than I’d expected – decadent and chewy with a citrusy hint of mandarin coming through the caramel sweetness from medjool dates. They’re my go-to clean treat and one I’m extremely unafraid to stuff my face with :) Enjoy!

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Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup golden flaxseeds
7 medjool dates
4 mandarin orange slices
4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
Zest of 1 orange

Instructions
1. Blend 1 cup rolled oats & 1/3 cup golden flaxseeds into flour. The flaxseed oils released will help bind them slightly.
2. Add 7 medjool dates, 4tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp raw cacao powder, orange zest of 1 orange, 4 mandarin orange slices & blend.
3. Mould paste into squares & top with dark chocolate chunks

Vegan brownies

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