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Living your unremarkable life

A couple days ago I learned about a incredible woman. A woman who was once dubbed ‘the most beautiful woman in the world”. A woman who did not only conquered the big screen, but whose intelligence saw her inventing a technology to help combat the Nazis in World War II, which later on formed the basis of WiFi we have today. A woman whose patriotism saw her giving her invention to the U.S Navy for free, only to be told that it would be better if she supports the war effort by selling kisses instead. Which she did by the way, $7million worth of kisses, all in just one night.

When I learned about actress and one the 20th century’s most notable inventors, Hedy Lamarr, I couldn’t help but feel so inspired and fascinated, but also a tad sad. Her glamourous day job as a starlet and her past time hobby studying weaponry and pattern of frequencies, make my life seems so…unremarkable.

But the more I studied this gorgeous, intelligent and amazing woman, who from the outset looked like she has had it all, I realised that being amazing doesn’t always translate to feeling amazing. Despite of all her notable accomplishments, she didn’t seem happy, especially in her later years. She had 6 marriages and 6 divorces. She was estranged from her own son, had a disastrous plastic surgery in an attempt to preserve her beauty, and became more and more recluse towards the end of her life.

Learning about this and at the same time being shocked by the news of suicide carried out by people who led a similarly remarkable lives, people like Anthony Bourdain, the great culinary vigilante whom I used to love watching on TV back in the ol’ days, or the uber-talented Kate Spade, whose playful yet sophisticated line of handbags had taken the world by storm, made me wonder about the significance of it all.

Maybe being remarkable isn’t all its hyped up to be.

Maybe the question shouldn’t be whether or not you lead an extraordinary life according to world’s view, but rather…

Do you like your life?

Are you pursuing things that interest you?

Are you surrounded by people you love?

Are you happy?

And if the answer is yes, then maybe your life is not so bad afterall…

Because at the end of the day… aren’t they the things that matter most?

 

With love,

Keren x

How To Pick a Healthy Snack: 3 Essential Tips

With all the sneaky marketing tricks that food companies like to play on us, it can be difficult to distinguish a healthy snack from its unhealthy counterpart. In fact, if you were to really inspect all the “healthy foods” that we’re surrounded by at the grocery store, you’d be surprised at how many of these foods aren’t actually healthy at all. With all the little advertising tricks and traps that have been so carefully set for us, it’s crucial for us to be hyper-conscious of what we’re snacking on. But rest assured, if you follow these three guiding principles while you’re shopping around for something to munch on, you’ll be well on your way to worry-free snacking.

1. Look At The Nutrition Facts

Every time you’re considering eating something packaged, flip the package around and check out the nutrition facts. Two things to look out for in particular are protein and fiber. If you eat foods that have a high protein and fiber content, you’ll feel fuller than if you were to just eat something that’s full of carbohydrates. Speaking of carbs, watch out for snack foods that are loaded with added sugars. Oftentimes they’ll just leave you craving more sugar!

2. Check Out The Ingredients

Looking at the nutrition facts simply isn’t enough. Harmful ingredients like preservatives, chemicals, dyes, and sweeteners are all hidden in the ingredients; so if you’re only looking at the nutrition facts, you’re going to miss them! And unfortunately, many of the popular snack foods we’ve grown accustomed to are stuffed with these kinds of things, so be on the lookout. If you can’t confidently pronounce the majority of the ingredients listed on a snack food, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it! Products that are proudly marketed as low-sugar, light, fat-free, or something similar, are often filled with a bunch of junk ingredients to maintain the flavor of the product, so be particularly careful with these foods!

3. Choose Whole Grains

Many snack foods are made with grains, but not all grains are created equal! Stick to whole grain foods instead of refined grains when choosing a carbohydrate based snack like granola bars, popcorn, pretzels, and the like. These kinds of snack foods can also be tricky; many of them are advertised as whole grain, multi-grain, or some other variation. Don’t just read that and think it’s healthy! Make sure you read the ingredients list and look for the actual whole grain ingredient. If the whole grain ingredients aren’t within the first couple listed, then the actual amount of whole grains in the product is probably small.

The best way to avoid all the label checking before you eat something is to just eat wholesome foods that don’t have labels! Things like fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are perfect snacks that you don’t need to meticulously inspect before you eat. But if you are going for something that’s packaged, typically the fewer the ingredients it has, the more wholesome and healthy it is. Here are a few go-to snack brands to look for when you’re in a rush and don’t have time to read a bunch of labels!

When it comes to healthy snacking, wholefoods are definitely the way to go. With all of the vitamins and minerals that things like fruits, veggies, and nuts provide, snacking on these foods is a great way to make sure you’re giving your body all the nutrients it needs.

P.S If you like a healthy drink to go with your healthy snack, you might want to check out Beyond Latte’s organic Spicy Hot Chocolate. Formulated by yours truly, it’s chocolatey, spicy, delicious and nourishing. Perfect for morning or afternoon cuppa!

Keren x

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GoodnessMe Box Review + Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Hi everyone,

Hope you are well. I honestly can’t believe that March is here. I’ve taken some time off from social media as some of you may have noticed and it felt really good. Sometimes you have to stop, re-focus, re-centre, and remember why you do what you do.

Anyhow, a week ago I did an unboxing video of the February edition of GoodnessMe Box, perhaps one of my favourite boxes of all time. It was loaded with a lot of pink deliciousness and boy do I love pink.

I also made Cashew and Almond Energy Bars inspired by Lorna Jane’s Energy Bars recipe that came with the box. They were delish! Mildly sweet, nutty, and oh so satisfying.

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

These bars are so easy to make and perfect for an afternoon pick me up or as emergency snacks. I’ve been making them in double batches to freeze. So so good! Check out the video and the recipe below and I do hope you will give them a try.

  Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars
 
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A delicious wholefood snack for whenever you need a boost of energy
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 20-30
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashew
  • 1 cup raw almond
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter (I used picks)
  • ⅔ cup soaked dried dates (or 10 medjool dates)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 4-8 tbsp boiling water
Method
  1. Blend all ingredients, except the boiling water in a food processor until crumbed.
  2. Slowly add boiling water until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Firmly press the mixture into a mold (I use heart-shaped mold) or into a lined slice tin.
  4. Allow to set in the fridge for about 1 hour before eating.
  5. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for 4 weeks.

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Goodness Me Box September Edition

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Best ever gluten-free vegan waffle

This really is the best ever gluten-free vegan waffle I’ve ever made.

No complicated gluten-free flour mix (one of my pet peeves in gluten-free baking), no egg, no dairy, and no fuss! You just need to throw all the ingredients in the blender, blend, and then you have a thick and creamy waffle batter which will yield waffles so delicious you’ll forget about taking a snap for Instagram (there’s a reason why you haven’t seen any waffle posts on my Instagram account until now)

You just need to throw all the ingredients in the blender, blend, and you have a lusciously thick waffle batter which will yield waffles so delicious you’ll forget about taking a snap for Instagram (Note: there’s a reason why you haven’t seen any waffle posts on my Instagram account until now).

The only ingredient that might be difficult for some to find, is dairy-free yogurt. I make my own soy yogurt so I’m overflowing with this stuff but you can use either use Coyo or any other type dairy-free yogurt you can find at the store. If you’re desperate for waffles and you don’t have the yogurt, you can replace it with 2/3 cup of dairy-free milk. It will change the texture and flavour of the waffles a little bit but they will still be tasty.

These waffles are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with mildly sweet and nutty flavour. This recipe makes about 6 -8 waffles depending on your waffle pans. I like to make a double batch so I can keep some waffles in the freezer for whenever I feel like one in the morning. The real challenge is trying not to eat the whole batch as you’re cooking it!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Best ever gluten-free vegan waffle
 
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A simple yet delicious gluten-free vegan waffle that will blow your mind
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice (whole rice)
  • 1 cup dairy-free yogurt (I used homemade soy yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil (olive oil works fine too)
  • 1 tbsp sugar or your favourite sweetener
  • ½ tsp baking soda (sifted to prevent blobs of baking soda in your waffle)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  1. Pour all ingredients into a blender and for a few minutes until smooth.
  2. Pour enough batter into your waffle pan and cook until crispy. I use a stovetop waffle pan so I cook each side for about two minutes on medium high heat, but just follow your waffle maker's instruction if you’re using an electric waffle maker.
  3. Slather with loads of your favourite nut butter and maple syrup and serve.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. Just pop them in the toaster to reheat.

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Vegan Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

A healthier frosting that’s creamy and delicious, but also good for you. It’s light, refined sugar free, dairy-free, and oh so addictive! Use it to frost carrot cake, muffins or serve with pancakes.

Vegan Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
 
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Author:
Serves: 2½ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight, drain
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Method
  1. In a food processor or power blender, blend all ingredients on high for a few minutes until creamy, scraping the sides to ensure even blend.
  2. Chill in the fridge to thicken for at least 1 hours before using.
  3. Store in the fridge for up to one week.
Notes
**Prep time does not include the time needed to soak cashews.

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

Sadhana Kitchen Cake Shoot – April 2017

Sadhana Kitchen | Vegan Chocolate Cake

Renowned for their delicious vegan foods, Sadhana Kitchen now do cakes. And I had the pleasure of shooting them.

10 Functional Christmas Gift Ideas

 

I’m not good with buying gifts. In fact I’m pretty awful at it. If you’ve had the misfortune of having me as your secret Santa, expect a box of chocolates, because that’s what I often give to people. But everyone likes chocolate, right? So maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

The thing is, I want my gifts to be functional, useful, and potentially… good looking. This is why I always buy chocolates. Because you can eat them, they give you pleasure and energy, and they look good. Don’t you think?

But, I’m putting a bit more effort this year. No more chocolates. (Except if you really absolutely want chocolates). Instead, I’ve found some really cool things to stuff the Christmas stockings and I thought I should share them with you.

So here are my 10 functional gift ideas for Christmas to help you this silly season.

1. Tile Mate

Coming first is the Tile Mate. A stylish and highly functional gift, Tile Mate is perfect for those who tend to lose their stuff (e.g. me). You can easily place it on any hook, loop, or strap. You can even get one to stick onto any item you don’t want to lose. Simply use the app on your phone to play a sound when you can’t find the item, or check its last known location. The best thing is, you can also use it to find your phone when that’s the item missing.

2. Sticky i-Phone case

Image from Pocket-lint.com

Second is the sticky i-phone case from Mega Tiny Corp. It makes a cool gift for any i-Phone-fan. It allows you to stick your phone to surfaces so you can do fun stuff with it like reading a recipe while you cook, or perhaps, when taking a selfie :D

3. Glass straws

Plastic straws are so yesterday. Glass straws are where it’s at. These straws are not only stylish, but they are also great for the environment. Also, there’s something about the smooth glass surface that makes drinking from them so much more pleasurable.

4. Yummy teas

Coming fourth is a selection of unique blend of premium teas for your tea-lover friends, all of which I have tried and liked. Such as the Christmas spice organic tea blend from Ovvio, the riveting blue coloured Crystal tea from Life of Cha, or the Ginger latte blend from Beyond Latte (made by yours truly).

5. A winged jug

I added this one because, seriously, who wouldn’t want a winged jug for Christmas? It is beautiful and highly functional. It’s perfect for wine, juice or cocktails. I found this exquisite piece at Glass by Emma Klau and it is aptly named “Take Flight Jug”.

6. Personalised jewellery

 

 

Almost every girl I know wanted to own that Sex in The City Carrie-style necklace at one point in her life. There’s nothing like seeing your name engraved on a piece of precious metal, at least that’s what I think. My mum gave me a ‘Keren’ necklace when I was 12 and I still cherish it to this day. How is it functional? Well, you won’t have to have your name spelled incorrectly at Starbucks, that’s for one. And this gorgeous little necklace is from Belle Fever.

7. A round Yoga Mat

Because everyone who yoga wants a round Yoga mat (even though they say they don’t). Seriously, how cool is this mat? It may be slightly impractical to take to a group class but it’s perfect for home use. I particularly like the mandala print mats, such as this one over at Camel Rock Yoga.

8. Adult Colouring book

You may laugh, but this stuff has been scientifically proven to calm and relax the mind. I think we all take ourselves too seriously and that we need a bit more play in our lives. Some of the adult colouring books are so beautiful that they, in itself, are art Like the Secret Garden Colouring book by Johanna Basford.

9. A Nutri Ninja

A Christmas gift doesn’t get more functional than this. This is perfect for anyone who wants to jump on the smoothie band-wagon and improve their health. I actually got a Nutri Ninja myself this Christmas to complement my Vitamix. It’s very handy when you’re only blending for one, or making small quantity sauces, etc.

10. A Service Voucher From You

Yep, that’s right. Dedicate a service as a gift to you friends! It could be something simple like washing their car, walking their dog, or giving me a massage as a Christmas present. It’s personal, memorable, and the best part is, it’s free. And if you’re looking for other Christmas gifts ideas that won’t cost you a cent, check out this post.

What would be the perfect functional Christmas gift for you? Let me know in the comment box below.

Keren x

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Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Tofu

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

I love Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls. Not only because they’re light, healthy and delicious, but also I can eat them with my hands and still be lady (not that I am one, but it’s nice to pretend). I love the sensation of the rice roll sticking to the skin of my fingers as I hold the roll, and the balancing act of trying to get enough sauce, but not so much that it would drip every which way, and the explosion of taste in my mouth right after taking the first bite. They’re very sexy.

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I remember when I was little and growing up in Jakarta, my mum would feed me with her hands. And so did my grandma, my auntie, my housekeeper, or whoever was like feeding me at the time. Sometimes they use spoon, but most times hands. Never forks. And it was always the right hands. And no, you were not allowed to be left-handed back then.

For me, there’s something primal and nostalgic about eating with your bare hands. Once you get over the fright of getting your hands dirty (what’s with that, anyway, after all, we touch everything else with our hands) and embrace your inner child, it’s quite exciting and liberating. I always feel more connected with my food when I eat with my hands as I can feel it before I taste it.

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Tips For Making Rice Paper Roll

Making good, tight rice paper rolls can be daunting if you’re new at it but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. You just need a bit of practice.

  1. Don’t soak the paper for too long. You want the wrapper to be still slightly firm. If it’s soft when you take it out, it will be too soft.
  2. Don’t over fill. The key is to making a nice, tight roll, is to avoid overfilling your wrapper. Use half the quantity of fillings you think you’ll need and start from there.

These Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls are very simple to make. There’s a lot of preparation involved, but minimal cooking. It also makes a great meal prep for lunches. It’s delicious, light, satisfying and perfect for the warmer months such as now (at least in Australia). You can also experiment with other noodles such as soba noodles, use tempe instead of tofu, coriander instead of mint, whatever your creativity takes you. You can even make a sweet version with fruits and yogurt. Check out this tutorial video I made which will hopefully inspire you to start rolling.

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Vietnamese Summer Rice Paper Rolls With Tofu and veggies

Ingredients

Rice Paper Rolls

  • 100g vermicelli (or you could use soba noodles)
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • Baby Cos lettuce, shredded
  • 250g extra firm tofu (I use Simply Better Foods Organic Tofu
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • Sea salt

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp warm water, or more as needed

Directions:

  1. Pat dry tofu block of any excess water with paper towel. Cut into 1 cm strips. Pat dry again. Rub each strips with a pinch of sea salt. Let sit while you prepare the noodles.
  2. Place rice noodles in boiling hot water and cover for about 10 minutes (read instructions on the package). Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan over medium-high heat and then add the marinated tofu. Cook for several minute each side or until tofu is cooked. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the dipping sauce. Mix everything together in a bowl until smooth. Add extra warm water or until you reach desired thinness.
  5. Prepare the rice paper wrappers. Pour hot water into a large bowl or a baking pan. Dip the rice paper wrapper into the water one at a time and immerse for about 15 seconds. You want the wrapper to be still slightly firm (if it’s soft when you take it out, it will be too soft).
  6. Add the fillings. Place a few sticks of veggies on top of the bottom end of the rice paper. Add a small amount of rice noodles, mint and then lay tofu on top. Remember not to overfill the wrapper. If it doesn’t look enough, then it is probably enough. Start with a small amount and increase it as needed, as you roll each one.
  7. Roll them: Pull up the bottom of the roll and roll over the filling. Fold the the sides of the rice paper roll and roll tightly. Place on a serving plate and serve with peanut sauce.

Storage tip: Wrap the rolls individually in plastic wrap and store up to 2-3 days in the fridge.

 

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Be Fraiche Skin Care Workshop

A few weeks ago I went to a Lip Balm and Lotion Bar workshop organised by Helen Dao, founder of Be Fraiche. Helen and I met through one of the Sydney Passion Bloggers Meetups. Helen thought I might want to check out one of her workshops and learn how to make my own skin care. I’m a big fan of DYI’s so it was a no-brainer for me. Here’s a little video I made for fun workshop held at a cosy co-working space in Bondi, The Little Space.

Now I’ve been to many workshops over the years but I have to say that it was the most organised workshop I’ve been to. The attention to detail from Helen during this three-hour workshop was incredible. From the meticulous placement of the bright yellow aprons and safety glasses on the table, to the goodie bags she prepared for everyone, everything looked so fine-tuned and stylish.

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Everyone turned up early, including me. Some came from as far as Newcastle. There definitely was a buzz about the workshop which none of us wanted to miss.

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Helen gave an introduction about herself – how she went from working in corporate to pursuing her passion in skincare. By the by, Helen is a qualified skincare formulator, having trained in the UK for Organic Skincare Formulation and in France for Perfumery. Pretty impressive and worldly credentials, wouldn’t you say?

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As to the workshop itself, each of us had our own setup, complete with our own little scales. We got to formulate our own lip balm and body lotion. The workshop felt like my old lab days, when I was a biologist, weighing ingredients to as precise as one-tenth of a gram, controlling the temperature so that it wouldn’t get too hot when heating and mixing up the ingredients, pouring solution into the tiniest containers and praying to God that I wouldn’t spill any of this expensive stuff.

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I learned that most lip balms are made using beeswax, so Helen taught us how to replace beeswax using Candelila, which is a plant-based alternative.. It’s a little bit tricky to work with as it’s much harder to dissolve, but when done well it does the job, and it gives the lip balm a nice shiny coat on it, too.

I would say I had an amazing time except that I can’t use that word anymore since the editor (my boyfriend Nat) has declared the word banned due to overuse. Apparently if everything is amazing, nothing is. He may have a point there and maybe I do need to expand my vocabulary a little bit more. So let me think how best to describe the experience.

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AMAZING!

Sorry, Nat. It was. And I think you can have lots of amazing experiences if you choose to. Why wouldn’t you?

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You can check out the Be Fraiche skin care workshop on their website. They have launched their natural skincare products so be sure to try them the next time you’re shopping for some skincare.

 

Keren x