When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city

Chiang Mai is located in the north of Thailand, near the borders of Laos and Myanmar. With far less wild Australian tourists than the more southern beachy parts, Chiang Mai was a perfect location for a Culinary Adventure.

Wat Chiang Man | When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

Full of temples – called a “wat” in Thai – Chiang Mai is a fairly conservative city so you’ll need to have your shoulders and knees covered if you wish to venture inside a temple. If you forget to pack your emergency sarong, simply walking around these opulent buildings is worth it – that’s mostly all we did!

Temples everywhere | When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

Temples really are everywhere so try not to peak too early – you don’t want wat fatigue! While Wat Chiang Man (that first photo) was a really impressive structure with stunning grounds, a temple we stumbled across in the Old City was by far the most interesting. The temple itself wasn’t much on its own but it was a beehive of activity with orange-robed monks everywhere completing set up for Yi Peng Lantern Festival celebrations.

Buddhist monks at work | When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

Tree filled with lanterns | When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

Something I found incredibly fascinating in Chiang Mai was the amount of advertising. Juxtaposed against the poorer areas, the gold-flecked temples and cold stained cement buildings, giant billboards looked completely out of place.

When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

In addition to those ads, utes like the one in the top right picture above, drive around blaring advertisements through speakers – I’d hate to be the driver! I think I’d prefer to have a tuk tuk!

Waiting tuk tuk driver| When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

We didn’t find out a whole lot about the history of Chiang Mai – too busy learning how to ride elephants & how to cook authentic Thai food! It’s obvious though when you look around, especially in the Old City, how long this place has been around for.

The old city moat | When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

From what my good friend Wikipedia told me, Chiang Mai was founded in 1296. The capital of its region at the time, it was prone to attacks by neighbouring countries which triggered the creation of huge city walls and a moat. While the moat looks like it would be lucky to stop even a puppy these days, it makes a scenic addition to the city.

The old city walls | When in Chiang Mai: Exploring the city | lizniland.com

There’s a lot of tourist-y things to do in Thailand but I’m glad we got to spend some quality time walking around and seeing how people live everyday. It’s always one of my favourite things to do in a new place.

 

What’s the most fascinating, mind-opening thing you’ve seen on a holiday?

When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes

There was no way a Culinary Adventure to Chiang Mai with Paleo Nick and Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo was going to go down without a cooking class or two! We ate plenty of delights while we were in Thailand but honestly, the most delicious things I enjoyed were those we made for ourselves during these cooking schools. (Commence the tooting of our own horns!)

Cooking School #1: Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School

Situated a little way out of town, the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School is a very snazzy purpose-built treehouse with picturesque semi-rural surrounds. With access to all the bells and whistles (or utensils and gas burners, as the case was) we learnt how to make a whole menu of delicious Thai dishes and even got a cookbook to recreate the magic at home.

Chef Steph | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

While the food was all super tasty, this class certainly wasn’t paleo – Nick’s face at the mention of soybean oil in a hot wok has akin to that of a small child after a fall, in that quiet moment of realisation before they let out the epic scream. There was soy sauce, seed oils, refined sugar and rice products galore. I thought that Thai food wouldn’t be too far from paleo but we quickly came to the conclusion that, just like back home, unless you make it yourself, it’s pretty hard to know exactly what’s in your meal.

Fried noodles | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Case in point was this fried noodle dish… but just quietly, it was one of my favourites! It’s not something I can see myself trying to recreate at home so it was total guilt-free vacation food. I’m not much of a pizza and cakes kind of girl – give me a random interesting dish like this that’s totally different to my everyday eats & I’m there.

This involved frying a little pile of sauced-up rice noodles until they started to crisp up together into a pattie. It was then set aside while the pork and vegetable mixture hit the wok. See, somehow I don’t think this one will be the same if I attempt to paleofy it with zucchini noodles!

Coconut milk soup & red curry fish | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

The closest-to-paleo dishes at this school were the Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup, the Red Curry with Fish and the Papaya Salad. By switching to coconut oil and using a good clean curry paste, the curry has already found its way into my kitchen and I’m keen to try out the soup soon too. I may just have to post up my recreation!

One of the fun things about this cooking school was learning how to prepare ingredients in the Thai way. We learnt all the ways to slice green onion and how to cut a chilli depending on your heat-preference, as well as some kitschy decorative skills. In the vegetable dish above the curry, you’ll be able to see my green onion art and possibly make out the star I carved atop my mushroom, while below, note my attempt of a tomato rose. I haven’t cracked these out on my home dinners yet but I might just have to at least get a tomato flower into a salad sometime soon!

Papaya salad - Som tam | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Originally, we were going to have 2 days out at this cooking school but, while we learnt a lot about how the flavours of Thai food work and what the foundation ingredients are, we weren’t so fussed on learning how to make more food we’d have to paleofy so much to cook at home. Enter the Inpoo Food Shop.

Cooking School #2: Stupid Easy Paleo Nick Cooking Class

Across the road from our accommodation was a small restaurant named Inpoo Food Shop. Fronted by a roadside kitchen (wo)manned by Som with occasional assistance from her tuk-tuk driving significant other Payut, Inpoo was a deliciously easy favourite with the ninjas. Nick befriended the couple on day 1 and by the time we needed a second day of cooking school, Som graciously let us take over her restaurant.

Som's pad thai | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

We broke up into small teams to tackle a dish from a menu Nick created. I joined with Jose and Jen to become the Friendship Curry team. Using what we’d learnt at the first cooking school but applying paleo principles, we put together a list of ingredients and hit the markets to shop for what we needed.

Som's curry paste | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Lucky for us, Som made us a fresh batch of curry paste to use (as well as a plate of her pad thai for us to taste-test!) so we didn’t need much more than some eggs, pork, coconut milk and a couple of fresh vegetables.

Our friendship curry | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

And didn’t it turn out pretty! To boost the protein, Jen had the brilliant idea of decorating the top of the curry with boiled eggs. I was sceptical at first but I loved the finished product – both the flavour and the texture of the eggs really complemented the spicy curry. I’m keen to try doing this in my own kitchen now too.

Friendship curry team | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Our team was pretty special – we were the only group with each person from a different country! I’m Australian, Jen is from Malaysia and Jose resides in the U.S. We thought that was totally appropriate for a team taking on a Friendship Curry.

Paleo chicken satay skewers & laarb | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

It wasn’t all about the Friendship Curry though – the other dishes that made the final feast were chicken satay skewers, laarb with cabbage leaves for scooping and wrapping, an epic fruit salad served up on a banana leaf and a spicy papaya salad. We invited Som & Payut to dig in first and then we all finally got to sample each others dishes. The feast even lured in some hungry Canadian backpackers so they piled up a plate too.

Sharing our feast | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

It was such a fun challenge at the Inpoo but I think we really needed the first day’s cooking school to be able to know what we were doing once we were on our own. Even just knowing what all the different vegetables were at the markets would have been difficult without a bit of education. Being able to take on the Inpoo kitchen with Som really solidified the skills and techniques we learned at school #1. Even though it was a bit of an unplanned change, I thought our whole cooking class experience was great fun and totally beneficial for my expanding my cheffing abilities.

Have you seen my other posts about Thailand? So far I’ve posted about why I went to Chiang Mai, the amazing Chiang Mai lantern festival and the elephant park and ziplining adventure. It was a great trip!

When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining

As part of my Chiang Mai adventure with Paleo Nick, Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo and a whole gang of culinary ninjas, I had the opportunity to not only meet the gentlest giants of the animal world, but also to fly through the trees suspended by little more than unwavering faith in steel.

Bonding with my elephant at Baanchang Elephant Park | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

For an incredible elephant encounter, we did the 1-day Mahout training program at Baanchang Elephant Park. The park is a not-for-profit organisation all about elephant rescue and rehabilitation and is situated in the pretty jungle-y hills a fair way outside downtown Chiang Mai.

Elephant kisses at Baanchang Park | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

While I was warned by friends back home not to wear short shorts (apparently touching a hairy elephant with one’s upper thigh is not so pleasant) we got to wear these darling 100% polyester suits instead (which I swear just about hit melting point in full sun).

All jokes aside though, this was a great experience which went above and beyond what I was expecting. Once we’d learned the commands and gestures to work with the elephant (including what to do if it bolted. Tip: hold on tight!) we went for a bareback jaunt around the expansive park. Each elephant’s real mahout (they stay together for life!) was never far behind us and my elephant’s mahout even made me this delightful hat out of a teak leaf while we meandered along.

Teak leaf hat at Baanchang Park | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

Our other exposure to the rainforests of Chiang Mai came in the form of a trip out to the Flight of the Gibbon ziplining park. Similarly to the elephant park, it’s quite a way out of town and – warning to anyone with motion sickness – is located at the top of a very windy road. Here we are (looking like the new cast of Survivor!) hanging out on a made-for-group-photos ledge over a waterfall in the wilderness surrounding the park.

Thailand Culinary Adventure team 2014 | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

After we strapped into our harnesses and helmets, it was time to take on the course of 33 platforms, 18 ziplines and 3 Indiana Jones-inspired bridges. The idea of putting all your trust in a steel hook certainly had some of the team quaking in their sneakers but once we’d nailed the first few, it was an exhilarating way to experience the tranquil (other than the occasional squeal or Tarzan bellow!) surrounds.

Just hanging out | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

I’m sure some, probably my mother included, may be a little suss on the safety and quality of something like this but I didn’t feel unsafe at any point. Our “Sky Rangers” looked after everyone and were great at supporting even the most fearful ninjas to step outside their comfort zone enough to make it a memorable challenge (rather than a memory to be repressed!)

Mick on the staircase | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

Me hanging out with Steph | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

The bloke on the left in the shot below was one of our Sky Rangers, Woody. He works at the park 6 days a week, lives onsite and told us that other than cooking, he has no real hobbies beyond zipping around the rainforest. It doesn’t get much closer to lives-and-breathes-the-job dedication than that!

Flight of the Gibbon - Sky Ranger Woody | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining | lizniland.com

Other than the photo of me with the teak leaf hat & the one where I’m copping a big neck smooch from a little elephant, photographer extraordinaire Anderson York captured these moments. The above shot was even taken while he was flying along, mid-zipline!

Have you ever got up close & personal with an elephant? They’re such incredible creatures!

When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival

If spending a week in Thailand’s Chiang Mai with Paleo Nick, Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo and a bunch of other top notch types wasn’t enough, our Culinary Adventure just happened to coincide with the incredible Yi Peng Lantern Festival.

Full moon & lantern | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

I’d heard of the festival before (mainly because of this video) but I was totally unprepared for how moving & downright bloody amazing it would be to participate in it.

Chiang Mai city lights | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

My photographs of the event don’t do it justice at all and I’m actually happy about that: it really is something that needs to be experienced and felt, not just seen.

Lantern | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

I loved being down near the river watching people prepare their lanterns for launching into the night sky. In the crowds, couples young and old, groups of travelling friends and local families alike gathered around to cast their intentions for the coming year & let their worries float away with their glowing paper tube.

Sea of lanterns | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

The Buddhist lantern festival in Chiang Mai usually coincides with Loi Krathong, a festival which occurs throughout Thailand and involves the floating of colourful floral arrangements down the river. Combined, these events make Chiang Mai an incredibly vibrant place to be at this time of year!

Loi Krathong | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

City lights | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

Parades, fireworks (both official & otherwise!), parties, a beauty pageant and street markets galore are spread throughout the city making it impossible to hide from the joy of it all.

Street markets | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

Street markets (black & white) | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

If you ever have the opportunity to participate in the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, I highly recommend you make sure it happens. It is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.

Fireworks off the bridge | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

Girls with candles | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

Fireworks off the bridge view | When in Chiang Mai: Yi Peng Lantern Festival | lizniland.com

Here’s a little video of us sending off our lantern. Unfortunately the couple trying to do likewise next to us don’t have quite as much success…

Have you ever experienced the Yi Peng Lantern Festival? Have you ever participated in anything that unexpectedly blew your mind or overwhelmed your senses?

Chiang Mai: Culinary Adventures

A well-timed post on Stupid Easy Paleo while I was in a grumpy I-haven’t-been-overseas-for-years mood, saw me, along with Michael and my mate Jess, join Paleo Nick, Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo & a bunch of other new friends, on a Culinary Adventure in Chiang Mai.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly spontaneous type but alas, around 6 weeks after I read that post, we had our bags packed and were en route to the airport. Sometimes things just feel right & you just gotta roll with it, however wild it might seem!

On the plane | Chiang Mai: Culinary Adventures | lizniland.com

Getting to Chiang Mai took around 10 hours flying time from Sydney: we flew to Bangkok (9 hours) and then hung out in the airport briefly before continuing on with a short flight (1 hour) into Chiang Mai. I picked up #GIRLBOSS to read on the plane, as well as The News by Alain de Botton & Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

Eco Resort Chiang Mai pool | Chiang Mai: Culinary Adventures | lizniland.com

We stayed at Eco Resort Chiang Mai which was delightful. It was a little way out of the main city but it had a really leafy setting, a deluxe pool and a pretty tasty breakfast buffet!

Eco Resort Chiang Mai | Chiang Mai: Culinary Adventures | lizniland.com

Each morning we had the option of waking up for a workout at Crossfit Chiang Mai. I only skipped one day & loved having my first taste of Crossfit, especially with athletes like Nick & Steph on hand for tips on lifts & activities I hadn’t really done before. I tried not to fan-girl out too hard when it came to meeting Steph… and I hope think I succeeded! Her blog has been a staple resource since I first tried my hand at paleo – more than a year ago – so it was cool putting an actual person to the name & face.

After posting last month during my macro-focused challenge about being ready to get back in the paleo saddle via Steph’s ebook, The Paleo Athlete, this trip was perfectly timed too – the 12 weeks finished last week. Hello again #paleolife!

Crossfit Chiang Mai | Chiang Mai: Culinary Adventures | lizniland.com

Of course being a paleo-focused group, food was never far from our minds! I’ve got a bunch of photos to show off my favourite Chiang Mai eats, the Thai cooking classes we did and all the delights from the markets. I’ll also be posting about the streets of Chiang Mai, the conveniently timed Yi Peng Lantern Festival and our elephant park and ziplining adventures.

Update: Jesse Kahle, the strapping gent on the far left of the photo above, is a superbly talented videographer. His camera rarely left his eye and we are all so lucky to have the below video to capture the spirit of the amazing trip.

To Be Found from Jesse Kahle on Vimeo.

Thanks to all the Culinary Ninjas for a fabulous adventure. What a fantastic crew of individuals! Here we all are, as snapped by our official group photographer, Anderson York (who therefore, was unfortunately not in the photo).

Culinary Ninjas | Chiang Mai: Culinary Adventures | lizniland.com

Have you been to Thailand? Chiang Mai is the only part of the country I’ve explored (12 hours in Bangkok Airport doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned!) and I really enjoyed it.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Raisin Protein Slice

Want a powered-up protein snack that’s actually delicious and full of #cleaneating goodness? I took these High-Protein Oatmeal Cookies and hacked them to macro-meeting perfection.

They’re most definitely not paleo but they did the job for me when I was getting a little tired of eating so much animal protein on a macro-focused food challenge.

Peanut Butter Raisin Protein Slice | Clean eating snack | lizniland.com

Peanut Butter Raisin Protein Slice

Serves 20 | Macros per serve: Calories 159, Protein 14g, Carbs 15g, Fat 5g  

 

2 cups of puffed buckwheat
2 cups of oats
4 teaspoons of Natvia
8 scoops of protein (I used AboutTime Cinnamon Swirl Whey Protein Isolate)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup of raisins
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened apple puree
1/2 cup egg whites (I use Puregg Simply Egg Whites)
1/2 cup of plain fat free yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
5 tablespoons of peanut butter (I used Mayvers Organic Crunchy – get one with nothing more than peanuts and maybe a little salt)

 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Blitz the first 6 ingredients (the dry ingredients) in a food processor or blender to combine.

Add the last 7 ingredients (the wet ingredients + raisins & cinnamon) and stir to combine into a batter. Add a few drops of water if it’s a little dry (and if you use a pea protein, it might be).

Pour the batter into a lined 8 x 8 pan and pop in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until the slice is lightly browned on top. It should still be a bit fudgey.

Let it cool before slicing into 20 squares & store in the fridge.

Life lately: Measuring macros

Strong-woman

When I discovered paleo a little over a year ago, I excitedly swore off rice crackers, low-fat yogurt and calorie counting and had never felt better. In the last few months though, I’d been considering doing a Whole 30, sugar detox, or some other reset program to recalibrate and rediscover that sense of inside-and-out wellness.

As it often does, the universe was listening in and by September 1, I was roped in for a 12 week challenge at my gym, Gritshed. With a focus on bodybuilding-style nutrition, the program involves a 4-week metabolism-boosting period, 4 weeks of gradual carb reduction and then a final 4 weeks of carb cycling.

I’m just starting week 7 now and while I’ve been encouraged to eat some less paleo-friendly characters like brown rice, oats and a couple of supplements, I’m lifting heavier, gaining muscle and dropping body fat all while never feeling hungry. Bit of a win! I’ve always been curious about macros and I’m always willing to try something new for the sake of an experiment.

Things I’ve learnt so far:

  • Carbs post-workout are important for recovery – it’s not just about the protein
  • How many calories I need to eat to keep on keeping on
  • Eggs are far better when they still have a yolk
  • Counting calories and staying on top of your macros takes a lot of time
  • How much protein/carbs/fat are in the foods I regularly eat
  • Bodybuilders have to eat a lot. A LOT.
  • Approximate grams to portion sizes of different foods
  • I can survive without chocolate and hot chips for weeks at a time (sometimes it’s good to be reminded of that)

All that said though, it hasn’t taken me long to be over lean turkey mince and egg whites and craving roasted chicken thighs and homemade mayo! I’m looking forward to closing out Week 12 so I can start following Steph’s teachings in my recently purchased e-book, The Paleo Athlete.

Photo credit: kReEsTaL via photopin cc

Review: I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson | lizniland.com

I’ve been loving this book sick since the day I bought it. So if you’re reading this to get a yay-or-nay on its worthiness for purchase, the 4-word review is: Go and buy it. It rarely rests in the bookshelf, usually perched next to my knife block ready to be splattered and tattered again.

DIY Sauerkraut | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

DIY Sauerkraut | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

A fan of Sarah Wilson since her magazine days, I enjoy her writing and style but, I have to admit, the passion for the “I Quit Sugar” movement had started to grate. It kind of surprised me how much I love this book and what it stands for. I don’t know what drew me to it given I didn’t buy the first book, didn’t do the online program and never really understood, as many don’t, why the goal was to “quit sugar” but the recipes popping up from the quest to do so were simply subbing the refined stuff for stevia or rice malt syrup. It had always sounded very SWYPO for my liking.

Choc coco-nutty granola | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

Choc coco-nutty granola | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

While IQS for Life does offer up “A chapter of chocolate” and “Celebrations and treats with which to impress the sceptics”, it is more of a lifestyle book (which just happens to include awesome-sauce recipes) with tips on everything from ayurveda to DIY sauerkraut and minimising food wastage. Be prepared to be converted to the rice syrup after learning who’s who in the sugar zoo but, more interestingly, you’ll learn how to (& have a desire to!) gut a batch of sardines, bake the most delicious faux KFC and cook up a rad paleo loaf. It’s not a paleo book specifically but, when you eat unprocessed, low fructose, whole foods, well… give or take some quality dairy and that’s what you’re pretty much left with!

Paleo inside-out bread | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

Paleo inside-out bread | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

When you figure out how sweet life is when you’re running on fat and protein, rather than on the never-ending treadmill of sugar peaks and valleys, it’s hard not to evangelise the shiitake mushrooms out of it all. Sarah Wilson is on a mission to get the world on board and IQS for Life is the perfect introduction to life without the 3pm slump, especially if you’re sceptical or even sick of the down-with-sugar message.

"KFC" and coleslaw | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

“KFC” and coleslaw | I Quit Sugar For Life by Sarah Wilson

It’s a shame Sarah often gets slammed for being anti-fruit, and down-right anti-fun, by characters who don’t understand the impact a processed diet high in sugar has had on the population. (If you need convincing on this point and don’t want it from Wilson, watch The Men Who Made Us Fat)

The main thing I love about IQS for Life is that it reaches beyond the sugar substitutes and encourages an extra serve of greens, enough dietary fat, a focus on preparation and a life of shareable food experiences.

Yeah, there’s some anti-banana sentiment and no, you can’t escape without seeing a green smoothie recipe but, all-in-all, these are recipes and life tips for normal, everyday people (regardless of whether you fully expunge your pantry of honey, maple syrup & dark chocolate chips).

Quick wins for a better life #1: Hold out for lunch

#1: Hold out for lunch | Quick win for a better life| lizniland.com

Original photo by By Rayi Christian W

It’s 11.15am. You had a good breakfast, even downed a coffee an hour or two ago, but now you’re hungry. Legit hungry. Hungry like that fruit bowl/emergency nut stash/co-worker’s lolly jar is not looking like it will survive much longer.

Thing is though, lunch is coming. You know you only need to hold out for another hour and you can chow down on your beautifully balanced, nourishing lunch.

Can you wait? Can you make a cup of tea or refill your water bottle and just hold off eating until lunchtime?

Of course you can.

You might not want to believe it, but you can. If you can keep doing continuous power cleans until the bell, if you can keep running until you reach the end of the street, if you can keep nodding and smiling through that horribly awkward dinner date; you can wait another hour for lunch.

It’s that well-known battle of mind over matter. With our instant gratification culture, we’re always wanting more before we’re done with what we’ve got. Yeah you could scarf a handful of nuts (healthy fats right?) or get a treat from the fundraising box (it’s helping the children, afterall!) but really, what’s another hour?

Stick to your plan.

Sarah Wilson does good words on why unnecessary snacking is bad news for both body and mind. She refers to it as “pre-eating” saying:

“…it could have a lot to do with being scared of restraint and lack. Many of us fear that feeling of missing out and the feeling of ’emptiness’, for a whole quagmire of really messy reasons. We shove food down on top of hunger, hoping it will silence all other emptiness or flutteriness we might be feeling.”

If you’re ravenous all the time though, that might be another story. Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo has great tips for making sure your diet is doing its part of the deal.

This week I’m working hard to actually be hungry when I show up to my meals. I’m making sure I’m hydrating adequately and checking in with myself to make sure I’m really hungry (& not just stressed or bored). It also gives me an incentive to put more effort into making sure my meals are worth the wait.

Are you a snacker? Or do you prefer to stick to three solid meals. I used to graze constantly but since moving to a paleo eating template and upping my protein & fat intake a bit, my blood sugar seems to have really evened out which helps me avoid the dreaded hangries.

Week of eats: A batch of winter breakfasts

Breakfast is my favourite meal. There, I said it. Like a mother declaring the favourite child, here I am announcing where my heart truly lies – let’s hope karma doesn’t make me ruin my dinner now!

I’ll start this round up off with the only brekkie here that I didn’t make: a beautiful vegan rice porridge from my favourite weekend haunt, One Penny Black. Accompanied by a long black and a good tabloid newspaper, it was a delicious way to start off my Sunday! Michael’s doing a 10,000 steps challenge with his work at the moment so after we chowed this breakfast down, we went for an epic walk. So epic, in fact, that he doubled his goal for the day!

One Penny Black's vegan rice porridge | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

Three, sometimes four, mornings per week I train at Gritshed before the sun has even sensed that its alarm is about to go off. I don’t eat before I work out so by 7am when I get home, I’m ravenous! I’m never satisfied with just a smoothie, especially on a training day, so I decided to start serving one up with some quick fried eggs topped with a scoop of homemade sauerkraut. This is a fun colourful breakfast that is guaranteed to keep my belly happy.

Fried eggs, sauerkraut & a speedy smoothie | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

It’s been almost a year since I cut out the grains and dairy but I’ve recently been introducing buckwheat into my morning meal to great success. I find soaking it overnight & then warming it up with some creamy coconut or almond milk in a porridge is a beautiful way to kick into gear on a cold morning. Give my dairy-free buckwheat, chia & maca porridge a try for yourself!

Buckwheat, chia & maca porridge | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

If I have oven space & a few minutes to spare on the weekend, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find me putting a batch of granola together. I always experiment with whatever flavours I have available. This one was made with coconut flakes, buckwheat puffs and a few other scoops of fruits and seeds. If you haven’t made one for yourself before, give my Grain-free fig and hazelnut granola a crack and then start experimenting.

Coconut, fig & buckwheat granola | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

 

Want some more breakfast ideas? Here’s my round up of squeaky-clean paleo breakfast options.

What’s your favourite thing to have for breakfast? While I love my eggs & savoury brekkies, I’m really enjoying a good porridge lately – I blame winter! A guy I work with can’t even stand the thought of breakfast – that could never be me!

Recipe: Dairy-free buckwheat, chia & maca porridge

Buckwheat, chia & maca porridge | Gluten free, dairy free & vegan winter breakfast recipe | lizniland.com

I’ve always been all about the eggs for breakfast. Even as a kid, no sleepy Saturday morning was complete without dippy yolks and buttered toast soldiers. And although I wouldn’t say times have changed, the wintery cold mornings of late have definitely had me thinking about warming bowls of creamy porridge.

Enter buckwheat. Is it paleo? Nope, not if you’re all hardcore about your anti-grain movement (it’s referred to as a ‘pseudograin’). But, if you follow a more paleo-inspired approach, I’m with Chris Kresser: if it works for you, soak it & psuedo on.

Even though it’s gluten-free, buckwheat is still a starchy guy so it’s a good option on days where you need a bit more energy – I usually only have this breakfast on training mornings. It’s not necessarily a great option if you’re trying to trim some kilos (same goes for spuds, rice and any other carbolicious eats) but hell, it has got to beat a croissant, right?

To keep it kind to your insides, minimise the anti-nutrients by soaking your buckwheat groats overnight in a bowl of water. I sort this out the night before and leave it covered with plastic wrap on the bench. So yeah, you need to plan this one the night before. C’mon now though, your future self will be thanking you so hard for laying the groundwork for such warm creamy goodness.

Recipe: Buckwheat, chia & maca porridge

Serves 2 hungry humans | Start it the night before

  • 1/2 cup of buckwheat groats, soaked overnight (go for natural groats, not the toasted ones)
  • 1 cup of almond, coconut or other milk of choice
  • 1 grated nashi pear (or just use an apple when the nashi is out of season)
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons of maca powder (yeah, it’s a ‘superfood’ but it’s quite delish!)
  • Hearty sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • 4 sliced dried figs (or a small handful of raisins or similar)
  • For garnish & added deliciousness: a little pile of blueberries, fresh or frozen-thawed

Drain & rinse the soaked buckwheat and combine it, along with everything except your garnish into a saucepan on low-medium heat.

Stir regularly as it all warms together and thickens for around 5-10 minutes. If you need any extra liquid to get it to your desired consistency, slowly add either some more milk or water.

Turn off the heat, stick the lid on & let your porridge settle into that creamy puddle of awesome you’re craving. Meanwhile, get your blueberries & serving bowls ready and make sure your breakfast buddy is out of bed.

Dish it out & get stuck in, without burning your tongue.

 

If you give this recipe a try, hit it with a filter & tag me in it on Instagram. I’d love to know how you go!

Darwin must-do: Humpty Doo Hotel & Jumping Crocodiles

For me, no trip to Darwin was going to be complete without seeing a crocodile in as close to its natural habitat as possible. To achieve this, our local friends recommended we hit up a Jumping Crocodile Cruise and work in a stop off at the historic Humpty Doo Hotel along the way.

We left just enough time to pull into the iconic pub on the way out to the cruise. This was where we squeezed in that delicious lunch of croc, buffalo and barra burgers.

Humpty Doo Hotel Darwin | Darwin must-do | lizniland.com

Sure, the dog races were on the flatscreen TVs and they’re happy to take Eftpos for your lunch payment but you won’t leave feeling like you’ve missed out on some original 70s charm – the pub’s been standing its ground since 1971, even withstanding the destruction of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

Water | Jumping Crocodile Cruise Darwin | Darwin must-do | lizniland.com

After scarfing our lunch and taking some photos, we got back on the Arnhem Highway and headed out to the Adelaide River to find us some crocodiles. While I’ve seen crocodiles at various zoos and the like, seeing one swimming along in the river or lazing on the bank is (thankfully) not an experience I’ve had. And wow, there were crocs aplenty here!

Teeth! Jumping Crocodile Cruise Darwin | Darwin must-do | lizniland.com

The boat we were on was a comfortable, yet still close-enough-to-the-action, size and it was easy to see the creatures sunning themselves or nosing up to the boat to peruse their lunch. The crew narrate the trip, talking about each of the crocs by name and giving some history and facts about crocodiles in the waters of the Northern Territory.

Chomp | Jumping Crocodile Cruise Darwin | Darwin must-do | lizniland.com

As the crocodiles jump to grab the steak-y offerings, you can see how enormous and powerful these animals are. According to the crew’s fun facts, the halfway point on a crocodile is its back legs. In other words, it has a whopper of a tail which helps give it power jumping up out of the water. So that means that only one quarter of the toothy guy in the above snap is visible. Hearing this, its easy to understand how farm animals, pups and even unsuspecting people get taken so easily. Note to self: never camp near croc-infested waters!

Kites | Jumping Crocodile Cruise Darwin | Darwin must-do | lizniland.com

Towards the end of the trip, one of the crew members flung a handful of diced bait into the air, summoning pretty much an entire flock of kites. This was absolutely nuts! I flicked my camera to an auto sports mode and just rapid-fire clicked as birds swooped all around to try and collect a late lunch. This picture had no zoom on; we were literally inches from copping a bird to the face! So interesting to see such a major bird up close – well, at least in the photos anyway! They were flying around so fast it was hard to see much at the time.

Darwin really is fantastic for getting back to nature – even the kind of nature you don’t really want to get too close to!

Have you seen my other Darwin must-do adventures? We loved Litchfield National Park and Mindil Beach Markets for more hearty serves of what nature in the Top End has to offer.