Tuesday, June 28, 2016

HOMEMADE EATS: BAKED BANANA NUT BUTTER FLAXSEED OAT PANCAKES (GLUTEN-FREE, REFINED SUGAR-FREE, VEGAN)

Healthy pancakes. Healthy. Pancakes.  I repeat: healthy pancakesThese two words coupled with each other in a single sentence sound like an oxymoron; as though they couldn't ever possibly go together. However, my dear (likely skeptical) reader, I promise I've found a delicious and easy way to make these two adjectives co-exist in physical form. Allow me to introduce you to the magic that is baked banana nut butter flaxseed oat pancakes.   


Pretty appetizing looking, aren't they? Annnd they taste as good, if not better than, they look. 

These beauts have bananas to thank for their perfectly sweet taste. Unlike most pancakes, an accompanying drizzle (or puddle) of maple syrup or agave is not needed and completely optional. The sweetness of the banana is usually enough for me, and this is coming from a girl who loves to drown pretty much everything in a lake of maple syrup (is my Canadianness showing?). 

Also, I can confidently say I far prefer these golden pretties over normal pancakes. Not only do they taste better, but they're also much healthier and easier to make. Refined sugars and sweetener are out of sight. They're oven-baked - no pan flipping required! (Side note: I can't be the only one who despises and sucks at flipping pancakes... Anyone, anyone?)

I like to make a double batch of these once a week then refrigerate them in an air-tight container for an easy "reheat-and-eat" breakfast or a quick snack. They keep well for about 5-7 days in the fridge.  



BAKED BANANA NUT BUTTER FLAXSEED OAT PANCAKES 
serves 4
prep: 10 minutes
bake: 25-40 minutes (depending on the thickness of pancakes)
total: maximum 50 minutes 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
ingredients
-4 ripe, browning bananas
-4 eggs (if vegan, substitute with flax eggs)
-4 tablespoons of a nut butter of your choice (almond, peanut, tahini) 
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
-1/4 cup gluten free rolled oats

tools/equipment
-mixing bowl
-spoon
-baking sheet
-parchment paper 
-oven

WHAT TO DO:
prep
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Remove peels from bananas. Mash bananas in your mixing bowl. 
3. Add in the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
4. Using a spoon, scoop mixture into puddles (usually 2-3 tablespoons works out well) atop the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. 

bake
5. Depending on the thickness of the pancakes, you'll need to bake them anywhere between 25 and 40 minutes. I'd recommend checking in on them at the 25-minute mark and adjusting your time accordingly. They're finished once they've browned and goldened, as pictured. 

finishing touches + add what you like
Enjoy plain, topped with your favourite fruit (I find blueberries and strawberries go especially well with these), popped quinoa, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nuts, whipped coconut cream, maple syrup or agave –whatever you like!

Will you give these pancakes a go? Which toppings would you choose?
Share your answer in the comments below.

If you do happen you try these out, I'd love know your thoughts. Tweet me at @thegirlinpolkas!

Your breakfast-loving friend,
-R

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I JOINED THE "LOB" CLUB

The "lob" (long bob) hair cut is everywhere nowadays; it seems as though everyone and their mother got the cut. I suspect it's got something to do with the versatility and the fact that the cut can be tweaked to work for any face shape and sense of style.

For months, I had been hemming and hawing about chopping off my mid-back-length mane and going for the oh-so-trendy lob à la Jeanne Damas. I was getting annoyed at the amount of product I had to use on the daily in order to avoid looking like a shaggy dog (no offense, dogs) and felt like I was in a bit of a rut. It was time for a change. 

So, after months of contemplation (and a failed hair appointment), I'm happy to say I've finally joined the "lob" club. What does that make me, a lobster?


Terrible joke aside, I am really diggin' having a shorter 'do. As expected, my styling time has been cut down dramatically. Also, I feel lighter and cooler. Not Alexa Chung cool, but temperature-wise cool. I know that may not sound like the most exciting thing, but as mentioned in a previous post, I've been really struggling to adjust to the tropical climate of my new home, Brazil (and it's winter here!). It's nice to be able to feel the breeze on my neck now. 

Colour-wise, prior to my hair appointment, my hair was pretty messed up. (Tip: don't ever box dye your hair black!) I went from a strange shade of reddy-blonde-brown with a band of black underneath to a close match to my natural colour, an ashy light brown, with a few subtle blonde highlights (the attached photo doesn't show it very well). I'm beyond happy to have finally reached the colour I've been trying to achieve since October 2015. 

The only downside was that my hair was unavoidably damaged from all of the chemicals used to remove my stubborn, wonky previous colour. My hair was super dry and brittle, as to be expected with heavy doses of bleach.

To heal my hair, I didn't wash it until 7 days after my appointment in hopes of retaining the natural oils (don't worry guys, I still showered). Now, at the two-and-a-half-week mark, my hair health is making a comeback. The shine and softness have partially returned, thanks to scant washing (I try to wash it only every 3 days), abandoning heat styling and largely in part to the Redken Extreme Strength Builder Plus Fortifying Hair Mask. The mask is typically used as a leave-in-then-rinse treatment, however, because my hair is so thick and dry I've been able to get away with using it as a leave-in conditioner, no rinsing. Oh, and it smells sooo amazing as well; like candy. Even though I love this product, I'm always down to find other great products for damaged hair, so if you know of any please share in the comments below! 

Before I go, I want to give a shout out and huge thanks to Nalva Lopes Hairdresser in Natal, Brazil. The team did such a lovely job on my hair and hit my idea, despite a language barrier, right on the head (errr.. hair?). It was quite possibly the best hair job I've had done to date. I highly recommend checking them out if you're ever in Natal! 


What are your thoughts on the "lob" trend?
Do you prefer having short or long hair?
What hair products do you recommend for damaged hair?
Share your answer in the comments below.

Your lobster,
-R

P.S. I just realised the above use of lobster could very well work as a Friends reference. YAAAAAS!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

HOMEMADE EATS: 5 MINUTE, 5 INGREDIENT POPPED QUINOA PROTEIN BALLS (VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE)

As a self-professed snack addict and constant nibbler, each week I make a point to experiment with at least one new healthy snack recipe. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I find a gem. 

Popped quinoa protein balls are the latest snack gem that I've stumbled upon. My boyfriend and I have been obsessively enjoying them between meals and sometimes even on-the-go. They're pretty versatile in that once you have the ball base, you can customize them with whatever ingredients you wish. 



I often get nippy between meals and like to tie myself over with something that satisfies my cravings in the healthiest way possible. Most often I crave something crunchy or chocolaty –which usually means I'm tempted to grab a handful of chips (then later, the whole bag if I'm being realistic) or chocolate of some sort. My popped quinoa protein balls amuse both my chocolate cravings with the richness of sweet dates and raw cocoa powder, as well as crunchiness with crisply popped quinoa. 

This recipe remains a favourite of mine because it hits all of my snacking requisites. It's simple, requires only a few ingredients, little skill, can be whipped up in 5 minutes, stores well and is easy to take on the go. 


POPPED QUINOA PROTEIN BALLS 
makes approximately 9 small balls
5 minutes total 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
ingredients
-16 large pitted dates
-4 teaspoons raw cocoa powder
-5 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
-1 tablespoon tahini or a nut butter of your choice
-1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

tools/equipment
-food processor or heavy-duty blender
-stovetop
-a small pot
-a plate or container(s)
-parchment paper

WHAT TO DO:
ball base
Add all ingredients except for popped quinoa to a food processor or heavy-duty blender and blend until well-mixed. 

Next, using your hands, morph mixture into small ball shapes and place on a plate or in a storage container lined with parchment paper. 

popped quinoa
Don't let the name intimidate you– popped quinoa may sound fancy and time-consuming to make, but really, it is incredibly easy and can be whipped up in only a couple of minutes. 

Simply place a small pot on a stovetop burner on medium-high heat. Fill the pot with enough uncooked quinoa to cover the bottom of the pot. After about 30 seconds, you should start to hear crackling. At this point, keep an eye on the quinoa, and remove when browned. Repeat this process until you've popped the necessary amount of quinoa. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature to maintain maximum crunchiness.  See, wasn't that easy? 

finishing touches + add what you like
Now it's time for the fun part. Roll the balls in whichever ingredients you wish to coat them in. Obviously, for the pictured recipe, I used popped quinoa. However, I also recommend getting creative and trying out various ingredients such as ground flaxseed, melted dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, raw cocoa powder, chia seeds, ground nuts and matcha powder. The possibilities are endless, see what you like! 

That's all, folks! Enjoy your popped quinoa protein balls with a nice cup of joe after the gym (as pictured), whenever a pesky craving strikes, or whenever else your snack-loving heart desires. They can be stored in an air-tight container in your fridge for as long as a week. 


 Will you try out this recipe? If so, which toppings would you try?
What's your favourite healthy, craving-busting homemade snack? 
Share your answers in the comments below.

Your snack-loving friend,
-R

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

ON THE DOT: MAY 2016

This month was spent comfortably in loungewear (yay to pajamas being in fashion!), missing Toronto and snacking on popped quinoa protein balls. 


Below, a bit more on the things I felt were "on the dot" throughout May...



LINKS:
Popped quinoa protein ball recipe here
Buy Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate here
Nontour makeup tutorial here

What things were "on the dot" for you in May?
Share your answer in the comments below.


Your polka-dot loving friend,
-R

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