The Chronicles of a Strange Vannessa

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

cacao bowl

I can safely say that I’ve given up chocolate ice cream. Or all ice cream in general, for bowls of banana ice cream. This chocolatey bowl is made from pure bananas and raw cacao powder, topped with organic granola, raw hazelnuts, cacao nibs & coconut mylk chocolate from Loving Earth.

Banana ice cream bowls taste so much better than ice cream to me now, and I can flavour them however I like – whether I want them sweet & milky, chocolatey, or punched with fruity flavours ranging from berries to peaches. The wonders that a Vitamix can do to change your life :)

Ingredients

3 frozen bananas
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
Handful of raw cacao nibs
Handful of raw hazelnuts
Loving Earth coconut mylk chocolate
Your choice of granola

Instructions
1. Blend bananas & raw cacao powder until smooth, creamy texture
2. Top with all the rest!

healthy-peanut-butter-cup This was quite by accident. I went to 3 different stores in search of rice malt syrup and failed miserably. So just so you know, the organic store at Rail Mall has no clue what rice malt syrup is, Fairprice Finest at Bukit Timah doesn’t have it, and The Marketplace at HillV2 doesn’t have it either.

Times like these I miss Melbourne with its vibrant healthy food scene. But then there’s Sean and the ability to travel 6000km in 7 hours via a large aluminium body hurtling through the sky.

So I’ll get my rice malt syrup in June ^___^

sunbutter-cup

These treats look like Reese’s peanut butter cups, but they’re not. They’re made from Sunbutter instead because peanut butter kills (me). It’s pretty healthy. The chocolate layer is made from cacao and sweetened with coconut sugar. My only gripe is that the Sunbutter layer melts quick in the humidity here. But then again, so does everything.

Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients

For the chocolate layer
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar
5 tbsp shredded coconut

For the sunbutter layer
2 heaping tbsp sunbutter
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions
1. Mix sunbutter, honey & coconut oil in a bowl
2. Pour sunbutter mixture into cupcake liners laid in a muffin tray. Fill them halfway & chuck tray in the freezer
3. Stir cacao powder into coconut oil until it turns chocolatey
4. Stir in shredded coconut & coconut sugar
3. Take the tray out of the freezer & fill them all up with the chocolate mixture. Top with toasted coconut chips & freeze again.

Clean bibimbap

“You have never tried bibimbap?!”

That was the usual reaction I got from anyone who talked about bibimbap, was thinking of eating bibimbap, or was already devouring the mix of eggy yolk over a whole bunch of colourful looking ingredients in a heavy stone bowl. Well, I tried a pretty crappy “healthy” version of it this year. So I decided to re-create a healthy version of bibimbap on my own. (I really ought to be trying an authentic bibimbap soon actually)

It’s hardly any different I think. Instead of rice, I replaced it with quinoa tossed in lemon and a drizzle of sesame oil. And while I had beef bulgolgi still, I had raw grated carrots and cooked Chinese spinach and beansprouts on the side. A very simplified version of bibimbap. I’ll probably attempt a more adventurous/complex version further down the road. But this will do for now!

Ingredients
1/2 packet Chinese spinach
1 cup beansprouts
1 carrot, grated
Beef bulgolgi
1/2 cup quinoa
1 egg
Sesame seeds

Instructions
1. Cook the quinoa in a 1:2, quinoa:water ratio. Salt the water slightly for some flavour if you like. I toss my cooked quinoa in lemon juice and sesame oil after!
2. Cook beansprouts until it just turns translucent
3. Cook spinach in boiling water & drain
4. Grate carrot
5. Fry your egg
6. Plate ’em up & toss in gochujang sauce! (I made a healthy gochujang sauce out of honey, chili, sesame oil and minced garlic but wasn’t too happy about it although my mom loved it) (Get gochujang from your regular Korean mart for an easy fix!)

skate1

I took this baby out on the empty Mindef track near my house to give it a go, and wound up spending 2 hours learning to skate on my own. Last Monday, I brought my longboard to work and had a ball of a time with colleagues between 1 longboard, 1 skateboard, and a brand new scooter won from the Microsoft guys who came by to present at our office LOL.

skate2

After Facetiming with Sean for a bit on the eve of CNY, I headed out to ECP to go skate for a bit before picking Joey up from camp. Got a tiny cut on my left palm – not from carving (carving is BEYOND FUN) but from when I was tired and just rolling along slowly and about to take my phone out from my back pocket, and then my board hit a hardened, smashed palm fruit stuck on the pavement. I flew forward from the jerk and broke my fall with this hand haha. I’m such a doofus.

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Can’t wait to feel confident enough to hit some slopes and carve at a downhill speed…but I really really need to get some safety gear for that.

Longboards are gonna be my best friends in between surfs during Melbourne summers for sure!!!

15 more days before I get to see Sean again. YESSSSSSSSSS.

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.

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