Saturday, 30 July 2016

Fav Links of the Week!

Happy Sunday friends!!!

And happy much needed rest day for me! Phew was last week an intense/ tiring/ full-to-the-brim week of 5:30am wake ups, sweaty workouts, full school days and then homework/ study thrown in there too! (as well as all the other commitments that come with my roles in the school!)

So, yes, when I woke up naturally this morning to the sound of nothing more than the windy howl of a winter's day in Aus, it was so nice to just lie for a few extra minutes, smile gratefully at the extra rest and recovery my body deserves and then slowly make my way about my morning to tick off some random errands here and there- waking up, making breakfast, showering, blogging, Instagramming, off to a uni open day and then finishing off my study for the weekend... pretty  cruise-y! :)

If you're anything like me, the very mention of eating breakfast is the first thing to spark my attention in that long-winded paragraph, on account of I want to know what the breakfast was, see the beautiful, nourishing food and witness the very image of what was consumed.

Well, here you go:
Exactly what I wanted when I woke up this morning; hit the spot and definitely filled my body with loads of the good stuff to rest and repair properly for the week to come (definitely don't think I ate enough yesterday after a tough hills session and was ravenous all day!!).
A deliciously creamy green smoothie with warm, crunchy home-made almond butter and peanut butter granola :) Eaten separately because sometimes I like to enjoy each of the textures and tastes separately- you know, the soggy cereal thing??
The smoothie was simply 1 frozen banana, 1 handful frozen persimmons, 1 handful kale, 1 handful spinach, 3 scoops greek yoghurt, splash of water et, voila!

The granola was extra special as the almond butter half was made with freshly made almond butter I whipped up the night before in the Vitamix- so, so good! You can find almost identical recipes for my granola here, here and here!


Now, onto some of the links I've been loving in the small pockets of time when I actually get to chill-out and blog read during the whirlwind of the weekdays!


23 Meal Prep Photos That Are Almost Too Perfect

10 snacks with 10 (or more!) grams of protein


fudgy double chocolate mug cake


What Makes Running Memorable?


Gaining Weight Is Hard.

are you addicted to food?

Good reads:

Is The Five-Second Rule Legit Or Nah?


My Body (And Her Body) is Not Your Measuring Stick

Alrighty, I hope you found some interesting/ inspiring/ delicious reads in there and now I have to rush off to the uni open day! Quite excited- life is starting soooooon!

Your turn:
What day is your designated rest day/ does it change from week to week or how you're feeling?
Breakfast today?
Favourite way to eat granola? Generally I'm a big fan of smoothie bowls, but every now and then I just love to separate the two and enjoy them both equally :D

As always; EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS, and get ready for some more posts coming at ya through the week! bye for now friendly friends!! :D

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My Kinda Cereal Bowl!

Hi there folks!

Hope you're all having a smashing day filled with smashing experiences and even more smashing food!

Gosh, the positivity in the air though!

Ok, I'll stop being the happy looney. Although, I mean, it's hard not to be when your breakfast turns out this good:
Alrighty, first let's back track a little to gain some perspective on this delicious bowl of cereal goodness.

So, recently I've really been into watching What I Eat In A Day's on YouTube and more specifically some of my favourite vegan channels What I Eat's and one of the channels I watch often always features the most delicious looking, large bowl of cereal for atlas one of her meals with all different cereals, fruits, nuts, soy/ almond milk etc. etc. It got to the point where I was physically salivating over my computer screen when she'd dig into her big bowl of sweet, crunchy, cold, milk-y bowl of goodness whilst talking to the camera.

I had had enough!

And so, come one ordinary (albeit cold- the winter this year is really killing me for some reason!) morning I manoeuvred my way into the kitchen, opened that beautiful pantry door, the door to the happiness of my life (food) and knew what I was going to create for breakfast.

A big bowl of crunchy, creamy, sweet, delicious cereal!
And make I did!

As it is hard to see by the layers I will go through the step by step layering process that was this extremely technically challenging dish :P.
Firstly there were around 3 generous scoops of creamy greek yoghurt. Following this I placed 2 wheet-bix on top of the yoghurt bed. Next up I sliced some banana coins on top followed by a few handfuls of raw muesli. Some more banana slices and then a drizzle of a peanut-y cinnamon-y sauce and prior to consuming; LOTS of unsweetened vanilla almond milk! NOM!
 Pouring the cold, vanilla almond milk on top to soak the muesli:
The sauce was simply around 1 tablespoon PB2, 1/2 teaspoon mama powder and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with some almond milk. definitely add some agave/ maple syrup if you're after a sweeter sauce, but I preferred the savoury note it added to the sweet muesli and banana.
Craving finally about to be satisfied, I dug into my big bowl of cereal (trust me, the bowl was huge, that's why it doesn't look like all that much! :P)
 After drowning it in almond milk of course:
 And it just Hit. The. Spot.
 I'm not going to lie, it didn't keep me as full as my regular breakfasts including a heck of a lot more fat/ substance (I learnt that cereal- even my kind- just can't keep me as satisfied as a bowl of warm oats!) but boy oh boy was it extremely delicious and satisfying to eat!
 I don't even remember the last time I had wheet-bix for breakfast. Although I do remember that I used to eat my two weet-bix(yep, just two- no banana, cereal, nut milk or peanut sauce) dry with a glass of milk to help wash them down!(and that wasn't even when I used to take dry weet-bix to school to eat for recess... strange child) Well, now I have definitely converted to the soggy weet-bix club!! And I don't think I'll be going back. :)
 The perfect bite ^^

And as you can see, it was ok:

So that was my literal story-time about my current life, sub-category; cereal. now over to you:

What was your favourite cereal to eat as a kid? Mine was most definitely Crunchy Nut Cornflakes- I would make the biggest bowl and eat ALL of it- there was probably soon much sugar in that cereal!!
What's your favourite cereal now?
Best breakfast you've had of late?

I hope you all have a lovely, lovey day, do something that makes you happier tomorrow and as always; EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS (cereal bowls count!!)! Bye for now friendly friends! :D

Monday, 25 July 2016

Change It Up!

Hey there awesome-sauce people!

Yeah, ok, maybe not. Trying out new intros you know? Changing it up. Keeping things... fresh!

Which, as it turns out, is exactly what I want to talk about today!! (Best. Segue. Ever.)

You see, I've seen around the inter webs and blogs and magazines etc. that one of the best ways to combat lack of motivation-itis is to change things up! Yes, this is mainly to do with fitness and workouts but I think it accounts for all aspects of trying to live a healthier, happier life.

Now, I am most definitely one to stick to the safety and comfort of a routine and sometimes get stuck in a rut for waaayyy too long (think months) just because it was fun the first time I did it, enjoyable the second and then just became habit for the 9836375 other times I did it. For example, always having a nice long bath at 5:00pm each afternoon. It was brilliant the first time, so why not do it every single time?

Or, I suppose more relevant; Doing the same weightlifting routine each week because the first time I did it my arms burned with pure-enjoyment and I felt so strong and powerful afterwards that surely every time I did it, I would get the same outcome right??

Not quite.

See, our bodies are adaptive. They, just like us, can figure out patterns and work out ways to be the most efficient because we are that predictable. Over time, my weight lifting sessions not only became slightly boring and tiresome, I felt no strength or power, I kind of felt burnt out and as a result I wasn't putting in the effort or the high intensity I did on that very first time that produced so many benefits and results.

My body knew what to expect and it was kind of over it. It was also used to the moves, the reps, the weights, so there was little to no improvement day-in day-out.

And I was like; 'Huh?' Because I was working out almost every day, getting my butt out of bed to move my body and what... nothing? No massive guns, or super cool gains? Come on!!

Yeah, thanks Albert, got that now :P

Looking back, it's all so obvious now, but it wasn't until I came across another article (I had read about this in the past) professing just how important it is to change up your routine to maximise results. This got me a-thinking. The next day I jumped into our make-shift mini-gym at home with the weights I always use for my typical, standard session and decided to do 5 more reps of each exercise. And change around the order. And add some new stuff. And throw in some high-intensity cardio just for fun between the rounds.

And I was sweating! My body was burning (included more leg/ ab exercises with the weights) and I was feeling that oh-so-glorious feeling of completing something amazing! The next time I went in for a weight session- I barely did any arms. I squatted and dead-lifted the life out of my legs (still feeling it 2 days later as I write this!!) and incorporated wayyyy too many burped tuck jumps into the routine.  And I was sore, sore, sore that next morning. But that's good! It means muscles you didn't even know existed are finally being worked and your body is adjusting to the new routine!

Change, my friends, it's what we need.

This is no different to eating. Yeah you know I had to bring food into this!! Eating the same thing day-in day-out will not only leave you feeling deflated and miserable and just not excited for your next meal (that terrifies me immensely) but your body will get used to the nutrients and amounts your giving it and will simply plateau in the sense of whatever it is you are trying to achieve; be it weight loss, energy increase, general wellbeing.

Variety is the spice of life, as they say and making sure you're eating a great big variety is how your body will truly thrive. Sure, I definitely eat a lot of the same foods each day, but I make sure to incorporate new and interesting ingredients to those foods, be it a new veggie, home-made sauce/ pesto,spice, herb, grain- you name it! Different nutrients providing the body with the large variety of vitamins and minerals it loves to produce high energy-levels and proper functioning!

Change scares me. It bothers me and gets me all itchy under the skin (mainly changes in lifestyle factors like moving house/ changing schools etc.) but the one thing I was always told as an anxious little kiddliewink? Change is the only constant in life. Which is true. So why should we fight it? And honestly my body has got so much more energy, vitality, motivation and determination than ever before now that I've added change to lots of aspects of my life!

Your thoughts:
Are you a deteste-change kind of person?
Do you find yourself un-motivated/ in a rut doing the same workouts day-in day-out?
How do you spice up your health from time to time?

Well, that was my thoughts on the issue- feel absolutely free to share your own/ your own personal stories. I hope you have a wonderful day, enjoy yourself and everything you do, EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS and smile- because smiling just such an easy, awesome little thing we can all do to brighten the day! Bye for now friendly friends!! :D

Friday, 22 July 2016

Weekend :D

Happy Weekend everyone!!

Boy, was I ready for a weekend! I've been back at school 1 week (not even that; 4 days) and already I am so exhausted! I think part of it is just the prospect of how gigantosaurasly massive this term is going to be (my last one!!) but also the fact that it's a marathon, not a sprint- I've got to keep powering through until November 11th (final exam- Economics!)

Anywho, it was nice to be able to have a little more of a sleep-in (school + my preference to work out in the morning before breakfast means a 5:30am wake-up call each day!) a little more of a slower getting ready for my workout and then no nagging feeling to get the sweat sesh done and dusted so I still have time for breakfast; no one's going anywhere without me!!

And what a sweat session it was!

I posted on my Instagram (@steph2chef) that I don't think I've ever done a workout as hard/ challenging as the one I did today and that's saying something because I like to push myself. Sure you've been through those long 2+ hour run rehashes with me and yeah; they were tough- but this one? This one had me questioning whether or not I should stop for a breather because I thought I might throw up with the intensity!

So, what exactly did I torture bless my body with today??

I started with a light, slow warm-up jog to get the legs moving and ready to work! The jog was to a little off street from a road near my house that literally plunges like a steep rollercoaster down to a plateau at the bottom of the street.

And then I sprinted up it 12 times (recovery on the way down).

Let me tell you; if you want to raise you're heart rate, quickly and effectively- do that. Yep.

Following these sprints, I NEEDED to catch my breath, so I held around a minute plank at the bottom of the hill.

Then I spied another, much longer (but far less steep) hill a little further on and simply ran (not sprinted, but not jogged) up to the top- longer, more sustained raising of the heart rate.

I took a recovery jog back down and then- yes then- decided to do a beach run.
Seriously though...
Sand running is insane. I knew this, and yet it was 10000x harder after doing those hill sprints (duh, Steph!) but it still felt good and challenging all the same- around 7-10mins one way and the same back and I was gasping for air (sand running also raises your heart rate and the intensity of a slow jog!!).

Ran back to my street, Did one last hill run up the hill facing my house and sprinted back at around 25m to go. Phew!

It was on the beach run where I felt the intensity of this particular workout. It was also when I thought I was going to throw up. But, taking walking breaks when needed and knowing when enough is enough is what made this workout challenging, yes, but also extremely fun and leaving me feeling so powerful, strong and energised for the rest of my day!
Yeah, I'm not quite that hardcore.. :P

Of course, after deeming a workout the hardest one you've ever done in your life; you're gonna need some proper fuel to rebuild all those muscles and lost energy stores- so refuel I did!

Saturday morning pancakes for the win!

These bad boys are pretty much these Banana Pancakes (with mashed nana added for sweetness and no protein powder) topped generously with crunchy peanut butter and mixed nut and choc butter and raw banana slices, with a side of creamy blueberry fro-yo to  create that refreshing, cold, creamy contrast.

I'm sure there were a few spoonfuls of nut butter whilst topping these 'cakes too, so that was also included in my breakfast/ post-workout meal.

This meal was just perfect after that hard sesh; plenty of carbs, protein and fat and tasting sooooo delicious (always does after fasting (sleeping) and then working out!) I was one happy, happy Steph!

A few hours later (when the hunger bug kicked up again) and I got to enjoy a freshly-made lunch (not prepped the night before and eaten out of tupperware)
Roasted baby potatoes, sweet potato wedges, fresh capsicum and cucumber, peas and a side of popcorn (LOVE popcorn!!)

So now I'm just going to get in a bit more study, relax a little bit, eat some more food and just enjoy my lovely Saturday!

What about you?
What did you do/ have planned for this weekend?
Sweat sesh this weekend?
Weekend brekky?

I hope you all have a great weekend, relax, recuperate and do something you love; it's so important in keeping us sane!! Oh, and as always; EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS!! Bye for now friendly friends! :D

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Weightlifting Is My New Running??

Hidy-ho friendly friends and welcome to the post with the title-teaser that's probably shocking the socks right off your little feet! Or big feet. Or whatever size feet you have..

Anywho, today, as suggested by the title I wanted to talk about my flirtation with the weightlifting and strengthening workouts that have started to make up the majority of my workouts. Now this was both intentional and also sort of accidental/ not planned.

See, on one of my recent long runs, the dreaded runners knee came back to bite the outside of my left leg, starting off as a little nibble and then growing hungrier with quite the painful bite! I knew as I drew nearer to home and took the short cut back to my house, cutting my run about 500m short, that I needed to take a break from the long distances and yet my motivated, enthusiastic and power-crushing recent workout self felt a little antsy about that.

Enter the new plan! I decided that since I had to decrease my mileage significantly (read: no running for around a week; I've sort of become the expert with this common running injury!) that I would increase my focus on strengthening my body instead.

So, now you see the accidental part of the picture.

However, also recently, I've been drawn to more and more weightlifting and strengthening Instagrammers posting impressive arm, back, bicep, glute, quad etc. shots (as well as the typical drool-worthy post workout pancake stack/ oat bowl with ALL the nut butters, syrups, chocolates  and anything else you can name that tastes good- gotta feed those muscles to get those gains somehow!!)
So I suppose that's the not-so-accidental aspect of this new plan.

Anywho, the week started off with a killer leg sesh of squats, lunges, calf raises, deadlifts etc. But I think as coming into this whole new workout style, I broke the number one newbie mistake- my legs felt fine, I didn't feel like I was sweating much/ enough for a proper workout, so I went harder for longer without any much change to the way I was feeling.

Then the dreaded 24/48 hour muscle pain occurred after a restful sleep and I felt every muscle in my legs. And they were screaming.

I did know that I had to mix up each different section of body I worked on to strengthen and so the following day I focused mainly on abs, using the stability ball (again; torture) and some other workout videos. Arms next (chest and back) followed by a sprint session the following day (my legs felt ok, not quite back to normal but no more severe biting!!) and then some Blogilates toning workout videos.
It may be pink, but that does not make it any nicer! :P
And what did I notice from this new routine?

I noticed my arm muscles getting more definition.

I noticed the different types of pain I'd never felt before, muscles I never used running starting to show up and make themselves very present (it was good pain though).

I was hungrier somehow?? This shocked me at first but then it made sense; my muscles were breaking down and requiring fuel to build themselves back up again; sure that happens in running too, but not quite to the extent of lifting heavy weights (also running doesn't really require all that much arm power, mainly just legs anyway). So this week I simply ate more. :)
 ALL the good stuff: two wholemeal crumpet, toasted,with vegemite and avo slices, raw sprouted beans, chopped carrot and a bowl of steamed peas

I felt leaner, less bloated (you know that post-long run bloat you sometimes get; yeah, I get it quite a lot), stronger and more powerful and seeing as I was feeling all of these new benefits I decided to do a little research on the benefits of weight lifting and share some of my findings with you guys!

1. First of all not only does weightlifting improve your physical work capacity (physically showing that strength, baby!) it also improves every day activities, enabling you to go harder and longer in all sorts of everyday activities.

2. Bone density; This was a big one for me because I know just how important my growing bones are at the minute and how important they will be later on in life. I like knowing that through this strength training I'm increasing my bone density and protecting myself from the older-onset conditions of osteoporosis and low-bone density issues like fractures and breaks.

3. It increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles and tendons improving performance and decreasing the risk of injury- something that sounds pretty good to me!!

4. Lifting weights helps make you mentally stronger- this is definitely something I've experienced for myself. I found the same thing with running; especially running for extremely long periods of time- that takes a lot of mental strength and determination that I feel running gave me, however weightlifting demands a different version of mental strength- the powerful, pushing, immediate version that gets you straight up from a low squat and pushing that heavy bar above your head. Ever. Single. Rep. We're pushed out of our comfort level, the discomfort is real and so is the challenge- and that's what strengthens your mind muscle!

5. More muscle= a higher resting metabolism rate. Whilst I'm fairly sure I already have quite a high resting metabolic rate (as I'm already fairly active and ensure my body is always well-fed/ nourished, read: I eat a lot of food and seem to burn the majority of it off) lifting weights has definitely increased my appetite, whilst at the same time producing little ridges and bumps of defined muscle that I've never seen before. More muscle and less fat means more calories are continually burned- which means more food for the tank for me!

The list of benefits is practically endless (just google 'The benefits of weightlifting' and you'll see what I mean!!) but those are just a few that I've come across in my own strengthening journey. As my legs begin to recover after the overuse during that long run, I'll probably add in a few more runs/ cardio, but in the meantime I'm quite content in sticking to lifting. I feel strong and powerful and that is an addicting feeling my friends! #liftlikeagirl

Your turn:
Do you lift weights/ do strength training as the majority of your workouts?
Favourite benefits of weightlifting?
Running; yay or nay? I think it will always be a yay in my life. It has given me too much not to always be even a little bit present in my life.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some insight into my new love-affair with the weights! As always; have yourself a a magical day, do something you love and... EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS!! Bye for now friendly friends!! :D

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Ultimate Brownie (For Breakfast!!!)

Hidy-doodly friendly friends and welcome to the post you've been waiting for!

The post that has it all; action, drama, suspense, romance, intensity...

Oh yes.

It is the post that holds the key to all your greatest desires, the post that will fulfil all your needs and better still, all your wants. The post that will not only satisfy your mind but also your very soul!

Ok, so maybe not all those things (I mean there's not actually all that much action is this post :P) but let me tell you that today I do in fact have a post that will at the very least make your tummy very happy!

You know the drill; adding blackbeans to brownies seems to be the most popular thing to do right now (frozen zucchini in your smoothies will be next guys!! It will catch on, I'm sure of it!) anywho, for some odd reason, me being the ultra-hip, trendy, health food blogger I am, I still haven't experimented with this creation; the blackbean brownie.

Sure, you can find multiple brownie and blondie recipes on the blog, raw, cooked, chickpea added; you name it! But no blackbean brownie.

Well, have no fear! The time has come! And I feel saddened even that I did not try this yonks ago, tears shed for every day that I could have been nom-ing on this delicious creation!

Monday morning, I awoke with the determination to smash out a hard leg-day (leg-day Monday, right?) and smash it out I did. And then the hunger came. Or more like, crashed, stumbled and rampaged through my belly, hammering on my insides to fuel the beast... and fuel it I did:

Oh yes.

I had no idea, but adding blackbeans to your brownie mix makes for the ultimate brownie texture and adds this amazingly rich and fudge-like taste that, let's face it, is paramount for an awesome brownie. I kept the other ingredients fairly standard to my usual raw, fudge brownies and then added in some blackbeans and baked in the oven for around 20 mins to create this incredible food morsel:

Ok, I have talked for well long enough and I need you, just as much as you need it, to have this recipe and make your very own. Right now. Get to it.

High Protein, Rich, Dark, Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites:

1/2 cup blackbeans
1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 scoop choc protein powder
1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
3-4 dates (depending on how sweet you want it- I had 2, which was perfect for me but not overly sweet)
1 heaped tablespoon nut butter of choice (I used a mixed nut butter)
1/2 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened- you can sub in any milk you like)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a small baking tray with baking paper
2.Add all the ingredients to a blender/ food processor/ vitamin :) and blend on high until smooth and combined (may need to stop and scrape occasionally)

3. Spoon out scoops of the mix (should be fairly sticky but still handle-able) and roll into balls, then flatten into brownie bites in hands and place on baking tray

4. Bake in oven for around 20 mins, or until top is slightly hard, warmed through and the smell is incredible!!

5. leave to cool slightly (not too long, warm brownies are THE BEST!) and then NOM!!

I enjoyed my fudgey blackbean brownies with some sweet, refreshing blueberry fro-yo (frozen blueberries and greek yoghurt whizzed up in the Vitamin until smooth; popped in the freezer until ready to eat)

And enjoy them I did:

Again; that texture though; blackbeans, you are my hero!

I have always loved brownies but I think now that I can make alternatives with so many more amazing nutrients and such a large amount of protein; I appreciate them even more. Especially now that I can eat brownies for breakfast! Doesn't get much better than that!!

Your turn:
Brownies or blondies?
What's your favourite sneaky add-in to baked goods?
Raw or cooked brownies? I change depending on how I feel, but I generally like the cold, creamy raw ones (no eggs of course; avo instead for that creamy factor!!)

That's it from me today folks, I hope you have a truly lovely day; make these brownies to make it even lovelies, eat something delicious and I will see you next time! Bye for now friends!! :D

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