Pana Chocolate Bars

The bar that started it all.

The bar that started it all.

Let’s be honest… the one thing that scared me the most about starting a healthier lifestyle was the thought of giving up chocolate.

I’ve always been a ‘sweet tooth’ type of girl – at parties I would go straight for the lollies and cakes instead of the potato chips and party pies – and while I definitely didn’t eat chocolate on a regular basis, I would occasionally get cravings for it (strong ones!). So the thought of having to deny myself those cravings… well, I knew it was going to be a legitimate struggle.

And then, (cue joyous music) I discovered Pana.

Pana Chocolate is raw, organic and handmade in Melbourne. It’s also gluten free, refined sugar free, soy free, low GI and vegan. It is a literal answer to my prayers and music to my ears – zero exaggeration.

Made with the purest of ingredients such as raw cacao and coconut oil, it’s the same indulgent treat I’ve always loved, but with real health benefits and no icky feelings afterwards. And dare I say it; I actually think it tastes better! Yes, it’s super rich (because cacao is chocolate at its purest form), but if you like dark chocolate then it’s not too far of a stretch. Other raw chocolate I’ve tried has been more bitter and almost chalky or dry, but Pana truly melts in your mouth! In my opinion, it doesn’t taste like it’s good for you, meaning it fully satisfies all cravings.

The chocolate comes in a number of different flavours: Raw Cacao, Cinnamon, Fig + Wild Orange, Mint, Coconut + Goji, Nuts, Sour Cherry + Vanilla, Orange, Rose, and Eighty (which is 80% cacao). According to founder and creator Pana Barbounis, Coconut + Goji is their most popular variation – it was also the bar that started my personal love affair with the brand! Since then I’ve tried Fig + Wild Orange, Orange (not much difference between those two), Mint, and Sour Cherry + Vanilla… all of which I seriously adore. From what I can tell, you really can’t go wrong with Pana.

The bars can be bought from most health food stores and the Pana website for $6.50, but if you’re lucky you may find some on sale (heads up for Melbournites – the discount health shop on Swanston St. sells them for $4.95!).

If you’ve never heard of Pana before… you’re welcome! Now you can go get your chocolate fix – and actually feel good about it!

— Daisy xx

Sour Cherry + Vanilla.

Sour Cherry + Vanilla.

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Mint – just like a choc-mint ice cream.

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Ground Organics Cafe

Source: Ground Organics (click photo to open)

Source: Ground Organics (click photo to open)

Good food and even better weather… could your local cafe get any better than this?!

As you step into this beach-side cafe and take in the rustic and authentic vibe, it’s easy to see the passion for health and happiness that inspired its creation.

Located in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, the beautiful beach views only metres away make Ground Organics even more inviting. Although I visited in winter, I was lucky enough to experience the cafe under a beautiful blue sky – yet with the genuine warmth of those who work at the cafe and its peaceful ambiance, I imagine it would be equally as enjoyable at any time of the year.

The menu is FAB, providing healthy and organic options for all kinds of dietary needs (think vegan, gluten free, raw and paleo). When I saw that they had an entire page just for smoothies, I felt like I had died and gone to healthy foodie heaven! Throw into the mix great coffee, cold pressed juices and raw cakes, and you have a selection so delicious it’s almost too good to be true.

A variety of inspiring and educational books and DVDs (some for sale and some for leisure) add to the atmosphere of Ground, as does their range of natural beauty products also available for purchase. And to top it all off, the cafe hosts regular screenings of documentaries focused on health, happiness and wellbeing that will really get you thinking about yourself and the world in a new way.

If Ground Organics was my local cafe, I would go every day! Definitely one to visit if you’re ever on the Sunshine Coast.

— Daisy xx

The to-die-for menu.

Ground’s ‘Cleanse’ green juice and a dirty chai with almond milk. Coffee note: you have the power to manifest what you dream of.

The ‘Vitality’ green juice and delicious vegan Amazonian Acai.

A raw vegan tiramisu and a ‘Longevity’ super smoothie. Smoothie note: can I embrace sadness as much as joy?

Find out more about Ground Organics on their website, Facebook page or Instagram account.

Peanut Butter & Banana Cups

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These super sweet, melt in your mouth chocolate cups are not only delicious, but good for you!

The cacao powder used in this recipe is raw and organic, high in antioxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. This makes it great for your skin, heart and muscles. It’s also known to be a mood enhancer and aphrodisiac!

Coconut oil is heat stable, so when used in cooking it doesn’t lose its nutrients. As a medium-chain fatty acid, it helps to reduce heart disease, improve circulation and insulin sensitivity, and increase metabolic rate – i.e. more energy for the brain and body, actually helping you to lose weight! In case that wasn’t enough, it’s antibacterial and antiviral properties are found to boost the immune system, providing relief for those with digestive/stomach conditions such as IBS, reflux, and joint/muscle inflammation.

As for the rest of the ingredients: maple syrup is a low GI sweetener containing zinc and manganese (great for cholesterol and blood sugar levels), cinnamon also lowers cholesterol and stabilises blood sugar, as well as increasing the metabolism and acting as a digestive tonic, peanuts are high in protein and different minerals (iron & calcium), and bananas are high in potassium (heart, nerves, kidneys and bones), vitamin B6 (blood and immune health), dietary fibre and contain tryptophan (mood-enhancing protein).

The crazy health benefits of this delightful treat mean that you really can feel good about eating dessert!

Ingredients:
(makes 6)

– 3 tbsp. coconut oil (solid)
– 1 heaped tbsp. cacao powder
– 1 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
– 1 tsp. cinnamon
– 1 banana
– 1 tbsp. peanut butter

Method:
1. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove.
2. Add cacao powder, maple syrup and cinnamon, and mix well (if you melt the oil on a stove, remove from heat first).
3. Spoon a tbsp. of the chocolate mixture into moulds (I use silicone) and freeze for 5 minutes.
4. Add a thin slice of banana, a tsp. of peanut butter, and cover with more chocolate.
5. Return to freezer until set.

Enjoy!

— Daisy xx

Banana Cinnamon Ice Cream & Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

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Ever dream of having ice cream or cookie dough for breakfast? Well, you can!

Now I know what you’re thinking (Um… what?!). But in all seriousness, you can eat this big bowl of YUM at any time of the day – guilt free!

This recipe will make you feel like you’ve died and gone to foodie heaven. The banana cinnamon ice cream is smooth and creamy; sweet with a hint of warm spice. The peanut butter choc-chip cookie dough is salty, nutty and slightly sweet. Plus, with only a handful of ingredients, it’s super easy to prepare.

The ice cream is fairly self explanatory, but what’s the secret ingredient in the cookie dough?

Chickpeas.

I’m not even kidding.

AND – it’s finger-licking good! I promise you’ll never even notice!

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 c. canned chickpeas (salt/sugar free, if possible)
– 2 heaped tbsp. natural peanut butter
– 1 tsp. vanilla powder or extract (optional)
– 2 1/2 tbsp. rice malt syrup (or other sweetener)
– 2 tbsp. coconut yogurt
– 1/3 c. cacao nibs

Method:
1. put chickpeas into a food processor and blend until they create a ‘flour’
2. add vanilla powder and yogurt; blend
3. add the peanut butter and sweetener and blend until smooth
4. if the mixture isn’t smooth enough, add small amounts of non-dairy milk until it creates the desired texture
5. spoon into a bowl and mix in the cacao nibs
6. cover with glad wrap and keep in the fridge until cold
7. serve with your favourite dessert, as a dip with fruit, or eat by the spoonful (I won’t tell!)

Banana Cinnamon Ice Cream

Ingredients:
(serves 1)
– 2 frozen bananas
– 2 tsp. cinnamon (or more, I personally like a lot!)

Method:
1. put the bananas into a blend and blend until creamy
2. add the cinnamon into the blender and fold in with a spoon, then blend until combined
3. spoon into a bowl and top with cookie dough, or whatever your heart desires! I marbled mine with a clean salted caramel sauce from Nicole Joy’s cookbook.

I hope you enjoy this not-so-naughty treat as much as I do!

— Daisy xx

Tropicana Smoothie & The Smoothie Hunter

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Ever wonder how to add the perfect nutritional boost to your breakfast? Now more than ever there are so many super foods and breakfast boosters available to us that it can be hard to know which ones to use and how much!

I recently discovered The Smoothie Hunter on Instagram, and Verity (founder and owner) was kind enough to send me a sample of her product for review.

The Smoothie Hunter is a 100% natural product containing psyllium husk, chia seeds, milled linseed and rice bran. This means that it’s a great source of fibre, protein, omega-3 and calcium… not to mention, vegan and gluten free! You can add it to your smoothies (as the name suggests) or sprinkle it on your breakfast for the perfectly balanced nutritional energy boost. All this goodness comes in a cute resealable paper bag – quick and effortless for a meal in a hurry!

The prices are quite reasonable – $6.95 for 70g, $14.95 for 250g and $25.95 for 500g. The product tastes great on its own but is relatively unnoticeable when blended with something else. Plus it makes smoothies extra thick, which I personally love! I highly recommend The Smoothie Hunter if you’re looking for a superfood that doesn’t make you gag, break your budget or require any extra thought.

The first smoothie I made with The Smoothie Hunter was banana, mango and coconut – and it was pure bliss! Slightly sweet, refreshing and reminiscent of a tropical island, it was exactly what I needed after a long day at work.

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Tropicana Smoothie

Ingredients:
(makes 1)

– 1/2 c. frozen banana pieces
– 1 c. frozen mango pieces
– 2 tbsp. coconut yogurt
– 2 tbsp. The Smoothie Hunter
– 1 tbsp. desiccated coconut
– 1 1/4 c. cold water *

Method:
1. blend all ingredients together, slowly adding water until the smoothie reaches your desired consistency
2. serve cold with sliced banana, flaked coconut and crunchy granola!

* Note: this amount creates a fairly thick smoothie (I ate mine with a spoon!). If you want something thinner, I would try 1 1/2 to 2 cups instead. Alternatively, if you wanted to use the recipe for ice cream, use only 1/2 to 2/3 cups.

You can find The Smoothie Hunter on thesmoothiehunter.bigcartel.com and on Instagram @thesmoothiehunter.

Enjoy!

— Daisy xx

Banana-Berry Protein Smoothie with Granola

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This smoothie is the perfect post-workout breakfast! Not only does it taste ridiculously good, but it’s filled with nutrients to replenish your body.

Before going vegan, I never bought into protein powders because I knew I could easily get protein from natural whole foods. While you can still get protein from a plant-based vegan diet, I think it’s beneficial to have a quick source of protein if you work out frequently.

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After doing my research and spending some serious quality time in the protein aisle of my health food store, I chose to go with the pure pea protein isolate from Protein Supplies Australia. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also gluten free, non-GMO, low GI and has no additives! They also make a rice protein isolate, and sell vanilla and chocolate variations of both proteins (made with natural flavours and stevia). But the best part? You can buy all this goodness for a price that is actually reasonable! I only paid $39.95 for 1kg of pure protein, while many brands charge more than that for 500g of protein and nasty additives! Needless to say, I think I’ve found my perfect protein match.

Granola

Ingredients:
(serves 1)

– 1/3 c. almond milk pulp* (dehydrated in the oven)
– 1/3 c. plain organic multi-puffs
– 1/4 c. cacao nibs
– 2 tbsp. Loving Earth caramelised buckinis
– 2 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp. vanilla powder
– 1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil (solid)
– 1 tbsp. sweetener (rice malt/pure maple syrup)

Method:
1. preheat oven to 150C
2. melt coconut oil and honey (separately)
3. mix dry ingredients in a bowl
4. add coconut oil and honey, then mix
5. spread on a lined tray and bake for 20 minutes or until browned
6. make your smoothie while you wait!

*Note: if you don’t have almond milk pulp, you could use gluten-free rolled oats instead.

Banana-Berry Smoothie

Ingredients:
(serves 1)

– 1/2 a large banana
– 2 tbsp. pure strawberry compote (or 3 fresh strawberries)
– 1/3 c. frozen blueberries
– 3 frozen banana chunks
– 1 tsp. mesquite powder
– 1 heaped tbsp. protein powder
– 2 tbsp. psyllium husk
– 1 c. almond milk

Method:
1. blend together banana, berries and milk
2. add dry ingredients and blend again until smooth
3. serve with the other 1/2 banana sliced and granola

Enjoy!

— Daisy xx

2014 – New Year, New Resolutions

Happy new year! It’s the first day of 2014, which for many people means creating a list of resolutions.

New year’s resolutions can be quite controversial and are often dismissed as a pointless cliche. However, the concept behind them – starting the year rejuvenated and focused with a clean slate – is entirely positive and beneficial if used in the right way.

Here are some of my tips for creating resolutions that stick!

1. Reflect
When starting the new year, it’s tempting to simply forget the past and move on with your life! However, the best way to start 2014 on the right foot is by reflecting on last year. I always hated the self-reflection worksheets that teachers used to hand out at school, but the process can allow you to start the year with wisdom and insight.

A few things to think about when reflecting:
– what prevented me from being my best and happiest self?
– what unhealthy habits/behaviours do I have?
– what were my priorities?

After considering the things in 2013 that didn’t fulfil your past resolutions, you are in a position to learn from your mistakes.

2. Forget negativity
New year’s resolutions tend to be wolves dressed as sheep – they appear positive, but subconsciously tell you that you aren’t good enough. This hidden negativity is what makes the typical resolution fail.
Health related resolutions in particular are guilty of making people feel bad about themselves. For example: lose 5 kilos, exercise more, stop eating bad foods etc. If we continuously focus on this type of resolution, we are reinforcing negative self-image. Not to mention making ourselves feel deprived of things that we enjoy!

So how can you prevent this?

Make sure that your resolutions are coming from a place of positivity!
Rather than resolving to exercise more, aim to live an active and energetic life.
Instead of aspiring to stop eating ‘bad’ foods, make the decision to eat nourishing, colourful whole foods.
The wording of your resolutions can make a huge difference!

3. Plan
A goal without a plan is a recipe for disaster. You might have an image of what you want, but if you don’t consider how to get there, you are less likely to succeed. Broad resolutions have their place with simpler aspirations such as spending more time with family. However, goals for significant change will thrive when paired with smaller steps.

For example, resolving to live actively – sounds great! But you won’t stick to it if you don’t consider how to do it. So, small steps toward your goal can be anything as simple as taking the stairs rather than the escalator, or going for a walk with a friend rather than grabbing coffee and cake. Mixing simpler steps with less desirable ones (early morning bootcamp, anyone?) will make your end goal seem a lot more achievable!

4. Reevaluate
Throughout the year, it’s important to revisit your resolutions and track your progress. This will allow you to make a note of all the things that have helped you towards your goal and all the things that haven’t. Some of your priorities may have changed and you might aspire to different things. Maybe you’ve even achieved one of your resolutions faster than you thought you would! Anything can happen, which is why reevaluating at regular intervals will help you to stick to your 2014 resolutions.

5. Reward (don’t punish)
You are a human being and mistakes are a possibility. If you break one of your resolutions, don’t punish yourself! Simply acknowledge what happened, consider and address the reasons behind it, and move on. I promise it isn’t the end of the world! One mistake doesn’t mean you have to give up on your resolution. Think of it as an opportunity to come back stronger and more determined than before!

While ‘punishment’ is a no-no, rewards are an absolute must! You’ve worked hard to achieve something and you deserve the chance to celebrate your success. So do something that makes you happy! This can literally be anything, as long as it doesn’t involve revisiting bad habits as a ‘treat’. And don’t forget to allow yourself to be proud of accomplishing your goal and sticking to your resolution!

Good luck with your resolutions – I hope 2014 brings you happiness!

— Daisy xx

Frank Body’s Original Coffee Scrub

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There are many things I love to do with my time, but treating myself to a relaxing at-home spa treatment is easily one of my favourites. Frank Body’s Original Coffee Scrub takes the experience to a whole new level of bliss.

Unsurprisingly, I discovered this scrub when trawling through my Instagram feed. As a passionate lover of all things beauty related, I did some quick research on the brand and then clicked ‘add to cart’ with lightning speed!

There are two scrubs to choose from: Original or Coconut & Grapeseed. I decided to choose the original before trying the coconut because it’s cheaper ($14.95 vs. $17.95), but now that I’ve tried it I can’t wait to buy the second! The scrub claims to target cellulite, stretch marks, psoriasis, varicose veins, eczema and acne with roasted and ground arabica coffee beans, brown sugar and sea salt. It also aims to moisturize and tone with a combination of almond oil, orange essence and vitamin E.

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The scrub has the appearance and smell of ground coffee, but the scent of orange and almond is definitely apparent, giving it a hint of sweetness. Because the scrub is so loose, it has to be applied in the shower (be warned – it gets messy!). Personally I don’t mind the mess.. if anything I think it adds to the fun! My only gripe is the amount of product wasted when you apply it. However, I found that using small handfuls at a time helped to reduce this problem. The instructions on the back of the packet are to apply the scrub with circular motions to damp skin, then leave for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.

The results? After using the scrub ONCE, my skin was as smooth as a baby’s bottom! After just one use, my skin looked healthy, rejuvenated and smelled incredible!

I will repurchase this scrub without a doubt, and I honestly recommend it to everyone! This is one of those lucky finds that will capture your heart and refuse to let go.

— Daisy xx

No Ordinary Moments

Source: imagequotes.tumblr.com

Source: imagequotes.tumblr.com

I was in the bathroom at uni last week when I noticed something written on the back of the toilet door. Someone had scrawled, “there are no ordinary moments”. Initially I discarded the statement as just another philosophical toilet-stall quote. However, it resonated with me.

There was an essence of truth in the statement, and it hit me – how easy is it to get so consumed with the complexities of life, that we forget to simply enjoy living? As a blogger and avid Instagramer, I find myself constantly on the lookout for the perfect moment. I’m always looking for things that will photograph well or make a great story. Reflecting on this, I realised how much of an influence social media can have on our lives. We are constantly bombarded with photos, statuses and tweets about what people are doing and what a great time they’re having – it’s hard not to feel the pressure to create similarly ‘perfect’ moments in our own lives.

Something I often neglect to realise is how much of life I miss when waiting for the perfect moment. How much more fun could we have at that party/concert/dinner if we didn’t spend the whole time writing about it on Facebook? How much better would your meal taste if you didn’t spend five minutes trying to get an Instagram-worthy photo and caption? (I am SO guilty of this!)

Jamie Cullum sang it perfectly in his song Photograph:

‘When I look back on my ordinary, ordinary life
I see so much magic, though I missed it at the time.”

This weekend, challenge yourself to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media and simply enjoy your life! Here are a few of my favourite ways to take some time out from the online world:
1. Do something that you claim you ‘haven’t got the time for’ – read a book, go for a long walk/hike, take a bubble bath or bake something. Do anything that you love to do, purely for the sake of it! See how much more time you have and how enjoyable life is without constant technology.
2. Spend quality time with loved ones – now you might be thinking, “I spend plenty of time with friends and family!” But how often do you pull out your phone while you’re together? Take the time to really appreciate moments with the people you love.
3. Look for the magic in everything – even when life seems dull, find a hint of joy/intrigue/wonder in that moment. I promise, when you’re looking for it, you’ll see it. Whether it’s the vibrant colours of nature, the sound of a baby laughing or the taste of a really good home-cooked meal, learn to relish every part of your day.

It’s ridiculously cliché, but when we look back on our lives we tend to realise how special the ‘ordinary’ moments really were. So I encourage you to change your way of thinking – realise today that there are no ordinary moments, and live life accordingly!

— Daisy xx