Chickpea & Orange Cake

While they’re probably the least sexy food or ingredient, legumes have to be one of the most versatile. Whether in salads, casseroles, soups or stir-frys they always add so much… ahhh yes and sometimes they can keep on giving long after your meal too!

However they have to be one of my favourite carbs, I love adding them to as many meals as I can, unless the Happy Runner is carb loading… high fibre meals and endurance running don’t really mix if you know what I mean.

Anyway here’s a recipe that I love because it’s a dessert, the key ingredient is chickpeas and my mum gave it to me.

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I could eat these straight from the can

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 400g cans of chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Grated rind and juice from 1 orange (approx 50-100ml of juice)
  • Cinnamon sugar (2 tbsp caster sugar and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon mixed) for sprinkling
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Chickpeas… aka ‘Garbanzo Beans’
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Skins just slide off when you rub the chickpeas between your palms or your fingertips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Grease or line a 450g loaf baking tin
  3. Drain and rinse chickpeas throughly, then rub them between the palms of your hands to loosen and remove the skins
  4. Put the de-skinned chickpeas in a food processor and blend until smooth
  5. Combine pureed chickpeas, eggs, caster sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, orange juice and rind in a mixing bowl (this is a moist cake so the mixture will be quiet runny)
  6. Pour the cake mixture into the loaf tin
  7. Bake for 1 – 1 1/4 hours, or until skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
  8. Remove from oven and let stand in tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin
  9. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve with yoghurt and fresh fruit
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Dusted with cinnamon sugar

This recipe makes around 11 serves or slices and it’s also gluten free. Here’s the nutrition data if you’re interested.

Nutrition Information (per slice):

  • Energy – 640kJ
  • Protein – 4.8g
  • Total Fat – 2.3g
  • Sat Fat – 0.6g
  • Carbs – 26.6g
  • Sugar – 20.0g
  • Fibre – 2.4g
  • Sodium – 273mg
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Similar texture to a Christmas cake
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Goes so well with yoghurt and a mag to flick through
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Yoga, Pushbikes & Sunrises

If you’re a runner like me you’ll probably agree that the idea of taking a yoga class is nothing short of terrifying! When touching your toes is as likely to happen as coming home to find your husband cleaning the bathroom, attempting downward dog in front of 30 strangers who seem to have elastic limbs and joints as flexible as Barbie is not likely to be a great start to the day.

Despite all the reasons not to I accepted the challenge from a friend to try an early morning yoga class this week. While a 6am start has its obvious downsides I was pleasantly relieved when I realised it also meant the first half of the class was more or less completed in the dark (I love daylight savings for so many reasons!).

After the nerves subsided and I realised the other participants were well and truly ‘in the moment’, and hadn’t noticed that my ‘cobra’ more closely resembled a typical garden slug, I started to relax and enjoy the class. In fact when I finally got the hang of the supported shoulder stand I subconsciously broke into cycling legs, just as we used to do as kids lying in front of the telly. Thankfully I didn’t break into a verse of ‘The Pushbike Song’. OK it was going through my mind…

“A-round, round, wheels goin’ round round round.
Down up pedals, down up down.
But I gotta get across to the other side of town,
Before the sun goes down. Hey, hey!”

It was then that I realised I too was ‘in the moment’. I was actually enjoying this now that I had also overcome the smell of the incense which was stifling my breathing and I am sure therefore also limiting my range of motion during the plow pose!

The class was definitely challenging and certainly left me feeling like I’d worked out, however while my usual focus at training is legs and glutes it’s no surprise I wasn’t able to wash my hair for the following two days.

I’m happy to admit, I was wrong it was a great start to the day. What’s more the fact the yoga studio looks over Coogee beach just topped it off it was so relaxing listening to the waves as they rolled onto the shore during the class and then afterwards watching the sunrise. No… perfect start to the day really! Think I’ll make this a regular Tuesday morning thing.

For those whose training also focuses on running here are a few yoga poses great for runners (thanks to the Happy Runner):

  • Pigeon Pose – Great for releasing and stretching tight hips and glutes
  • Warrior Pose – Good for leg strength and stability
  • Downward Dog – Stretches out calfs and hamstrings
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Salute to the sun
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Coogee by sunrise
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I wasn’t the only one that morning feeling like all eyes were on me
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Coogee life

Pancake Sunday

Having missed an opportunity through the week, Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day), to indulge in one of my favourite dishes I felt it only fair and also necessary that I go against tradition and whip up a batch of pancakes on Sunday… so I’m 5 days late, who’s counting!

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Pancakes taste better on Sundays!

After flicking through a number of my favourite picture books, aah I mean cookbooks, without much luck, I opted to go with the basics. In other words I couldn’t find a recipe I already had the ingredients for in the pantry.

So here is my very basic pancake batter. It only has three ingredients (I told you it was basic) making it really versatile.

What you need (ingredients):

  • 1 cup self-raisning flour (a mix of wholemeal and white flour if you want to include a little fibre)
  • 1 cup (250ml) of skim milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
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1 2 3… eggs. flour. milk.

How to get from ingredients to pancakes (method):

Add the flour, egg and half the milk to a large bowl and whisk together. Continue to add the rest of the milk gradually as you whisk. If you like your pancakes thick add a little more flour and if you like them thin or crepe like add a little more milk. Once you have a smooth batter you’re ready to go. Pour the batter into a flat pan over a medium heat, you can make your pancakes as big or little as you like by the amount of batter you add in one go.

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tsssss…
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Pancake production line.

The beauty about this recipe is you can add other ingredients into the batter. I usually add chunks of fresh bananas or berries, for sweetness and texture.

While I haven’t added any table sugar to the batter you can. I have a sweet tooth so I like to add the sweetness at the table with plain or flavoured yoghurt, fruit, maple syrup (to be honest I just can’t have pancakes without this delicious golden brown syrup), lemon juice and brown sugar, sprinkling of icing sugar and thinly sliced strawberries with crushed almonds on top, a little Nutella with raspberries… and I could go on.

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Ready to go with a side of passionfruit yoghurt and maple syrup.
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mmmmm…

What’s more you can also go savoury with this batter by including corn (fresh or canned) or by topping your pancakes with avocado and lemon juice, scrambled egg or smoked salmon and cream cheese.

I always have left over batter so I cook up pikelets for afternoon tea with jam or save them to take to work as snacks. They’re also great for lunchboxes with a little jam or honey.

Yummo!

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Pikelets with blackberry jam for afternoon tea.
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Leftovers make for yummy lunchboxes.
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With a dollop of blackberry jam between layers.

Sushi for breakfast

Wow, talk about sensory overload… the Tsukiji Fish Markets, just a few train stops from Ginza, is an experience to say the least. As the largest wholesale fish market in Tokyo, and most probably one of the largest fish markets in the world, it’s so worth the visit. We did however skip the tuna auction which would have had us there around 4-5am in 2 degree temperatures… brrrrrr!

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Tsukiji Outer Fish Markets, Tokyo.

Probably not surprising seeing the Japanese are so clean there were no bad fishy smells. Everything was extremely fresh, and looked just amazing… there was something new and intriguing around every corner! Walking between the narrow streets of the outer market the locals sell fresh vegetables, dried fish, legumes and of course tonnes of fresh seafood from slabs of bright red/pink tuna to tiny pippies and white bait.

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tuna tuna tuna…
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More tuna

At Tsukiji you really get a sense of how the working class live in Tokyo. Everyone is always busy, whether it’s welcoming you to their stalls or cleaning their shop fronts. There is also an abundance of local street food being prepared. You can imagine the fresh sushi but also the bubbling hot fish stews, barbecued scollops and oysters, as well as freshly made octopus dumplings.

If you love seafood this place is heaven on earth.

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Fresh scollops hot off the BBQ.
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Legumes from fava beans and lentils to soya beans.
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The inner fish markets
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The fish fillet queue
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These need a little garlic and coriander before being thrown on the barbie.
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mmmmm seaweed!
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Yes, we did have sushi for breakfast… salmon, tuna and mackerel fresh from the mornings catch.
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Had to add this one… my favourite from the morning!

Rose Bakery – Ginza, Tokyo

Flying goes hand-in-hand with the necessity for stocking up on the latest fashion and fitness journals… ok womens mags (including a little trash, who doesn’t just love looking at the pictures sometimes!). Due to the inflight entertainment, which I have to say is a complete overstatement, the term ‘inflight entertainment’ definitely conjures up thoughts of live music, stand up comedy or dancing girls in my mind. Anyway seeing as I spent most of my recent flight from Sydney to Tokyo either glued to the 6 inch movie screen or trying to sleep whilst I blocked out the noise from the man stilling next to me sucking the remnants of dinner from his teeth I didn’t get around to flicking through my stash of magazines. However as I browsed through the most recent issue of ‘Shop Til You Drop’ one night in our small Ginza hotel room (actually small is an understatement it was more the size of the shoebox bedroom you rent when backpacking through the UK, definitely not possible to swing a cat in, nor a mouse for that matter!), I was excited to see an article on ‘Tokyo’s Ginza District’. Excited for a few reasons, obviously one as I was keen for a little guidance on what to see, where to eat and the best places to shop but also thrilled as I could now defend myself when the Happy Runner accuses me of not pulling my weight in terms of helping to research and plan our trip. And whats more a great excuse for spending the $16.90 on magazines at Sydney airport, by the way how good are those 3 mags for $10 deals at the airport!

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So anyway the article talked up a few shopping must dos and a bakery called Rose Bakery. To be honest the initial reason the bakery took my interest was because it was situated amongst a few of the shops I was eager to check out and sounded like the perfect place to park a husband when you need a little retail therapy or in my case “a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse myself in Japanese fashion….err I mean culture Honey”!

So after a morning spent exploring the Tsukiji Fish Markets in Tokyo (which I’ll cover in another post) we headed back to Ginza where I suggested we check out the Rose Bakery to refuel and plan the rest of the day. I knew the Happy Runner would eagerly agree. Set on the 6th floor of the Dover Street Market in Ginza, the Rose Bakery is a quaint, yet modern cafe/bakery. It’s not over the top fancy and is roomy so you can relax and enjoy the experience rather than being squeezed in like at a popular cafe at Bondi Beach. The menu is simple and includes salads, small burgers (with homemade patties), lunchbox combos (including a few types of salads and fresh frittata or quiche), and of course delicious cakes, slices, puddings and other baked yumminess! The menu also tells you they use organic vegetables when possible, I’m not one to search out organic produce (I don’t believe there is enough science to support it) but a bonus if you prefer it.

I’ve included a few pics that I took as I think pictures tell the story the best.

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Work behind the scenes at Rose Bakery
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Sooo much to choose from!
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Colourful salads
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Scrumptious carrot cake and cranberry cup cakes
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The Happy Runner… a big fan of Rose Bakery
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Handmade Rose Bakery jams
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Hot ginger cookies
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I had to have the pancakes!
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Walnut & amaretto cake, cinnamon swirl cake and pistachio cake

For those who want to check out the Rose Bakery next time you’re in Ginza the best way to find it is to go through the UNIQLO clothing store which from memory was roughly opposite the gorgeous Prada store on Ginza Street. Walk through the UNIQLO stores’ ground floor to the other side where you can exit and directly opposite is the Dover Street Market. You can take the elevator straight up to level 6 however I recommend taking the escalators up and checking out the minimalistic design of the Dover Street Market shop floors and the odd yet modern art works through out.

Pre-race nerves for support crew

To be honest I didn’t get the best sleep last night and it wasn’t because I was in a far away land (like Japan) or because my pillow had as much cushioning as the pile of magazines next to my bed resembling more a pancake than a pillow. Rather it was because my husband (aka the #HappyRunner) is running his fifth world major marathon today. I know… so inconsiderate! It’s not enough that he drags me around the world to the most amazing cities, as he follows his simple yet physically challenging passion for endurance running, he also disrupts my sleep thanks to the nerves and anxiety I carry in hope for his success.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not worried he won’t succeed, I know he’s put the work in and I know he has the mind to push through the 34km mark, where you’re so close yet still so very far. I know he has the VO2 Max to get to the the finish line before the time clock clicks past the three hour mark and I know he’s consumed the carbs needed for such physical exertion.

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34km Tokyo Marathon marker – Ginza

On a side note let me just say you’ve never seen anyone consume carbs the way he can during the 2-3 days before a marathon. Honestly it’s like he breathes them in. Fellow sports dietitians often tell me their clients struggle to eat enough… not this little black duck (as my mum would say), he has it down pat.

Despite all the reasons that my ‘pre-race’ nerves are a waste of time they’re inbuilt. The marathon can be a beast, you need to respect those 42.2km as once the starters gun has fired what lies between you and the finish line doesn’t always go to plan.

Good luck #HappyRunner.

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The Happy Runner – Tokyo Marathon

Update post Tokyo Marathon…

All the nerves, while I agree were seemingly useless, have subsided… the #happyrunner has clocked yet another sub three hour marathon. Couldn’t be prouder. That’s five of the six world majors down and one to go. Bring on London 2015.

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Seiko window display – Ginza, Tokyo