Monday, 26 January 2015

Recipe: Cream-filled Lamingtons (gluten free)

Dear Lovelies,

Happy Australia Day!
Today is the day when everyone in Australia celebrates the things that we are grateful for in the country that we live in. As most people will be at the beach having a BBQ, there was no real main meal recipe that I could blog about. But every great BBQ celebration deserves a desert and what would be more suitable in Australia than Lamingtons?

These cream-filled little sponge cakes covered in chocolate and coconut flakes made me fall in love with them the first time I set foot onto the Australian continent.

This recipe uses almond meal and tapioca starch/flour instead of grain based flours, not because I am gluten intolerant, but I enjoy the small alterations and welcome an alternative to conventional cooking methods.
Whenever possible, I also use organic ingredients and in general make sure to use unprocessed ingredients of high quality.

If you prefer the Lamingtons to be a dairy free desert, simply leave out the cream.

It takes approximately 1 hour.
For 25 bite-size Lamingtons you need:

For the cake base:
♥ 3 eggs
75g (1/2 cup) tapioca flour (note: tapioca flour = tapioca starch)
175g (3/4 cup) almond meal
♥ 2/3 teaspoon baking powder (note: not all baking powders are gluten free)
150ml (2/3 cup) coconut oil
3 tablespoons raw sugar (dissolved in 6 tablespoons of hot water)
♥ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate ganache:
75g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
150ml (2/3 cup) coconut oil
♥ 2 tablespoons of the dissolved raw sugar you made for the base
♥ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
♥ 3 tablespoons coconut or almond milk
1/2 block of Dark Chocolate (70%)
225g (1 1/2 cup) coconut flakes

For the cream-filling:
100ml cream
1 tablespoon of the dissolved raw sugar you made for the base

1. To start with, preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius (fan forced) or 170 for a conventional oven.

2. Grease a 2 cm-deep, 20 x 30cm baking tray with olive oil and line with baking paper making sure that the paper comes up the sides of the tray as well.

3. Dissolve the coconut oil, 3 tablespoons of the dissolved raw sugar and vanilla extract and whisk together for about a minute (or until all granuals have dissolved) before setting aside. Measure out the tapioca flour and almond meal separately and also set to the side.

4. Beat eggs for 5 minutes until thick and foamy before gradually adding the coconut oil mix and then the baking powder, tapioca and almond meal mixture as well. Mix everything together using a whisk and fold together until there aren't any lumps visible.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and spread evenly. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Place the sponge cake onto a wire rack and set aside to cool completely (If the cake is warm the chocolate won't set).

6. When the sponge cake has cooled down, trim the edges off and cut into 4 strips.
Note: this is when you can place a small amount of cream between the two cake pieces, alternatively you can use jam, chocolate or anything that you would prefer.

7. To make the chocolate icing, combine coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla, coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of the dissolved raw sugar in a pot and warm up. Add half a block of Dark Chocolate 70% and stir until smooth. Spread coconut on a plate.

8. Dip the cake strips first into the chocolate mix and then into the coconut flakes.

With Love,


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Fitness in the City

Dear Lovelies,

I didn't plan on publishing this post, but I was so surprised that I got so many good photos this morning. What was planned as just one photograph ended up as a whole series - let's face it: Sydney is simply stunning and even though I've lived here for over two years now, I still take photos like a tourist :-)

The reason for this spontaneous photo shoot this morning is a competition in Marie Claire Magazine. In a fitness related article they asked readers to reflect on #whatgetsmeoutofbed and although I can think of dozens of reasons, Sydney's beauty and beachy lifestyle is top of the list when it comes to fitness.
Not many cities can claim that they have such spectacular waterfront areas and an amazing climate. This combination is simply made for working out outdoors.

I recently discovered Yoga, after a lovely friend convinced me to join her at Hot Yoga. The craze behind this type of exercise was always a mystery to me, in fact I even thought it's something that Hippies did - please excuse the very shallow stereotype.
It turns out it is one of the most physically challenging things I've ever done while also forcing you to switch off stress causing thoughts and focus on yourself. Being a girl, I also of course enjoy the certain type of gym clothing styles that comes with yoga - the little crop tops and patterned tights <3 The tights I'm wearing in the pictures are from Mika Yogawear (have a look *here*), an American company I stumbled upon while I was searching for the perfect yoga pants. Not only do I love the pattern, but I also have to say that these tights fit perfectly, they literally mould around you. Very recommendable! The top needs to get a special mention as well, it's from H&M and double sided! One side is pink and purple, the other is grey and pink! Everyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE things that have a little special something. Both, the tights and the top tick this box!

With Love, 


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Going off the birth control pill

Dear Lovelies,

This is a rather personal post but I felt like sharing my experience to reach out to those who are unsettled/insecure and hoping for some illumination.

First of all I am neither a doctor nor otherwise qualified to make medical statements. There are many different birth control pills available across the globe, this article is no generalisation. Furthermore this article is based on personal experience and not on scientific data. It is always best to discuss your very personal situation with your doctor.

I've been on the pill since I was 16. A micro pill to be exact called "Belara". Mainly for contraception, but the pill clearing my skin was a nice bonus. I never had troubles with the pill, no side effects, no weight gain, I took it regularly and never skipped a cycle. Being an early mum was never an option for me so the pill just seemed to be the perfect and easiest method of contraception.

It was after 10 years of being on the same pill that I started bleeding in between periods. More a spot bleeding than proper red blood but still, I knew that this is unusual. I asked my gynecologist and she assured me it was quite normal to bleed a little bit in between periods especially when being on a micro pill. Having experienced such a thing for the first time and not being able to read the signs that my body gave me, I believed her and just accepted having to wear liners most of the time. One year after that I moved to Australia. The pill I had been on for 11 years by then was not available so I went on a different micro pill called "Yasmin". At the same time I got a PAP smear done and while the doctor took a sample and the cotton tip came out blood red, she told me that this is absolutely not normal and there was far too much blood even for spot bleeding.

That was the time when I began to feel more changes. It is really hard to explain but I didn't feel like myself anymore. Almost as if I'd lost the connection to my body. Physically I felt bloated and fat and psychologically I had the worst mood swings and was upset quite often. To the point where I cried randomly and showed many signs of depression.
Not to mention that during this time I lost my sex drive completely. When you encounter a situation like this for the first time all you feel is insecurity. "Am I seriously ill? Cancer?" and "Is this normal after only three years of being married?" were frequent questions in my head, not knowing what's happening to me.

Not being able to pinpoint it directly to my pill it took me a while to realise that this is not me. All this doesn't happen because of life and work and stress, all this has to have a real cause, so I went back to my doctor. She was convinced the new pill she prescribed me at the blink of an eye is more suitable for my body at this stage in life and so I hoped that being on a new pill would bring positive changes. But it didn't. That's when I decided that this has to stop! After almost two years of these side effects I wanted my body back and my sex drive and my health! All the doctors I had consulted during this time said it can't be the pill and when I asked if going off it is an option they all looked at me in disapproving surprise asking me if I want to start a family.

I made an appointment for a blood and urine test (pregnancy, STD's, etc.), another one in a female clinic for an ultrasound and an appointment in the hospital for a biopsy to make sure that I'm ok physically. After all results came back absolutely fine I made up my mind and decided to go off the pill.

Yes, there was the option of going on a stronger pill, or using another hormone based contraception method but I was well and truly past the point of wanting to feed my body more hormones. But how would it be without the pill? What would my body be like without the pill? Would I revert back to the pubertal, pimply teenager with period cramps? Is it worth it?

The following months were quite a learning curve. The first thing you learn is to listen to your body again. My skin broke out, randomly and unpredictable, it was very oily. My beloved foundation (yes I am still part of the generation which is loyal to certain brands) all the sudden was too oily for my skin and my powder just "swam" away on my shiny face. My back was full of pimples. My scalp was so itchy and I well and truly could've washed my hair twice a day.
And as if all these puberty-typical things weren't enough I also developed a form of the skin disorder Rosacea in my face.

Apart from all the things that DID happen, there was one thing that DIDN'T happen - there was no sign of my period. The first 3 months you actually enjoy it and it is so liberating not having to think of this "time of the month". Then you slowly start to think that there's something wrong (out of the frying pan into the fire). It turned out that in my personal case it took my body 11 months to "restart" the female program. All puberty-like symptoms have also vanished, the Rosacea is gone and everything is back to normal!

The conclusion? Of course it's challenging. You need to learn again to control skin outbreaks with a good cleanser rather than hormones. Find gentle products which work for you.
You may have to change the shampoo you love because your scalp now needs to be treated differently. Pay more attention to what you eat as it also has an effect on what your skin looks like.
Always carry tampons with you to avoid surprises, so yes, many things are like being a teenager again. But instead of feeling frustration I feel joy. Joy that I finally hear the voice of my body again, that I am truly myself now.

At 29, so almost three years after the first "symptoms" I'm more than happy that I went down the path of going off the pill and should we want to start a family then I think it is best to get all these hormones out of the body as early as possible anyway.

With Love,


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Louis Vuitton Love

Dear Lovelies,

Everyone seems to reflect upon the past year at the moment. I'll spare you my thoughts and show you my new favourite shoes instead - Louis Vuitton open toe sandals in tan <3

With Love,