Super Duper Yummy Ice Cream Pie (No-bake and guilt-free!)

This raw banana ice cream pie is a creamy, dreamy, refreshing, utterly satisfying post-dinner treat. I mean, come on, who doesn't love dessert? About a year ago, I discovered a secret that changed my world... but really.
For the "ice cream":
Now, if you don't know what I'm talking about, I suggest you pay VERY close attention. Here is a method by which to make "ice cream" without an ice cream maker, with just one ingredient (maybe 2!) and which is totally healthy. Take one or more bananas (you need three medium sized ones for this recipe) and chop it/them up into coins. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until completely frozen. Place the frozen banana slices in a food processor. If you want the ice cream to be reasonably sweet, add some agave nectar, maple syrup, honey or brown sugar. Power it up and give it a good whirl (3 mins or so) until the bananas go from huge chunks to a crumbly mess to a beautiful frozen yogurt consistency. At this point, you could serve the banana "ice cream" immediately, freeze for a more ice cream like texture, or create a whole new dessert, as I will show you with the following ice cream pie.
Variations are numerous:
- cocoa powder
- any other frozen fruit
- peanut or any other nut butter
- chocolate chips/m&m's/marshmallows
- anything that tickles your fancy

For the pie crust (makes 4 individual servings):
Take approximately half a cup of almonds and a bit more than half a cup of pitted dates. I soaked my almonds in water and peeled off the skins as I have read that the skin is actually an inhibitor and prevents your body from absorbing the health benefits. I roasted my almonds in the oven for 5 minutes to enhance the nutty flavor and crisp them up a bit. Soak the dates in warm water for half an hour and drain. Once the almonds and dates are prepared as you wish, whip out your food processor again and let the almonds process until they are small chunks or like a powder, depending on your preference. Dump in the dates and process again until it forms a clumpy paste. There - it's done!

Assembling the pie:
Take four serving bowls and press down a layer of the pie crust. Here's where I was a bit naughty. I put a nice dollop of chocolate peanut butter and spread it on top of the pie crust (skip this if you want to keep it completely "clean"). Use a spatula and spread the banana ice cream on top of the crust or peanut butter and freeze for two hours until set.

Take the pie of the freezer approximately two minutes before serving so that all the components have time to soften just the slightest bit.
Relish the goodness!


Versatile Breakfast Parfait

My choice for this morning: green kiwi, almonds, dates, greek honey yogurt, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, soaked oats.... the options are never-ending.
Easy, delicious, nutritious breakfast for everyone and will power you through till lunch! Can be prepped the night before or even put together at the last minute. I can't really call it a recipe; it's more like a method, an art, if you like..
So here goes, you can really put anything (within limits!) and layer it in a glass or bowl and call it a parfait. I have listed numerous options that you can then choose from and layer in any proportion and layer that you wish.

For the Breakfast Parfait
- cranberries, raisins, chopped dates, apricots or any dried fruit, really
- fresh fruits: everything and anything rolls. [my favorites: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, bananas]

- regular milk, soy milk, almond milk
- fruit-flavored yogurt
- greek yogurt (plain or flavored)

- homemade granola
- store-bought granola
- rolled oats pre soaked in milk, yogurt or water

- honey, agave, maple syrup

Nuts and Seeds
- flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
- almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts
- toasted coconut

Other Toppings
- nut butter
- pumpkin puree
- applesauce
- chocolate chips (shhh. I won't tell!)
- dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder

Get designing and relish your own customized breakfast!


Running with Friends - Always Fun!

Today we had no school. Whee! Nah. School's great.. Anyways, I was up bright and early to go running with my friend who lives in the apartment building right next to mine. We went for a short, 30 minute run and didn't even end up running the whole thing, but who cares? The only bad part was this lousy Singaporean humidity - don't get me wrong, I love Singapore; but the weather? Eh. Not so much. I was dripping in sweat and my shirt was soaked. Ah, the glory..

Moving on, we got a sorta-workout and did some chatting and catching up (always important). Two in one! Sometimes, it's not only about the workout itself, but the environment and the experiences. So if I have a chance to run with my friend, I'm gonna grab it no matter what the impact is on the workout.

Even better if you can get 100% effectiveness from both aspects - a hardcore workout and fun times with friends.

Basically, the gist of the post is that working out with friends is immensely more satisfying, motivational and downright fun. Once in a while, I encourage you to grab a friend (or few), get some fresh air, push each other and go for a run. 

My Average Daily Workout

On a school day, I don't really have much time to spend doing non-academic stuff - ie. watch TV, go shopping (not that you would expect this) and the same applies to exercising. On such days, when I have limited time, this means that I need to squeeze in a decent-intensity workout into around 45 minutes. I have followed this plan of going down to the gym for about 45 minutes every weekday for the last month and it has worked perfectly. The workout is short enough that I am not spending too much time in the gym, yet long enough to get my heart rate up and keep me fit... and that's why I love it. It took weeks of experimenting and trial to find a routine that worked for me and one that I wouldn't get bored of.

Recently, I have started listening to music when I workout (I never used to!) and realized that it really helps me keep focused and motivated. Also, science has proven that the beat of the music keeps your motion and rhythm and takes your mind of your breath (panting..). I have made a playlist with 10 songs that work for me and it comes to just about 45 minutes. This routine has set in so well that going to the gym is actually a great relieve from school work and I'm genuinely excited to get moving and sweaty.

The Workout:
20 minutes on the treadmill (around 3.5km)
15 minutes on the stationary bike (2 minutes high resistance; 2 minutes low resistance - then keep repeating)
5 minutes - 1)weights and arm strength 2)alternate with rowing every other day
5 minutes - ab/core workout

It gives a whole body workout and leaves you feeling re-energized and packs in a boosting punch.
Hope it works for you! Please leave me a comment if you have any other ideas and as always, there's absolutely no need to follow my formula exactly and vary it as you like so that you feel the same energy and motivation as I do!


My Mom's Tiramisu - Amazing.

I have been so busy lately – with school, dreaded college applications and other stuff, which you will read about in my next post – and have only gotten the chance to post this now. Last weekend, I downloaded all the episodes of “Suits: Season 2” and my family and I had a Suits marathon (5 episodes). Suits is the best! If you haven’t ever watched it, I would immediately make a plan to do so anytime now. It is super-addicting, super-awesome and I promise you’ll never be able to stop watching it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Back to the food! Obviously, for the night to be good, we had to have some yummylicious eats, so we made Mexican-themed cuisine and tiramisu. This consisted of a huge platter of nachos with cheese, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. As the main course, we had a mixture of corn, chicken and bean quesadillas. All this fantastic food was paired with lime margaritas (virgin for my sister and I, of course!).

Everything was homemade, including the tortillas, but I’ll only be sharing the recipe for the tiramisu. This is a classic recipe that we often make when hosting a dinner party. It is my mom’s recipe and undoubtedly the best tiramisu I have ever eaten. It is cinch to put together and tastes better on the next day, so it is the perfect dessert to make ahead of time. We made ours in a larger dish and just cut out individual squares. But if you want to enhance the presentation, make individually portioned tiramisus in glass serving bowls. Do remember, however, that this method takes significantly longer.

Also, make sure you use good quality strong coffee and kahlua. That is, if you desire the strong taste of both these essential flavors. As with all cooking, high-quality ingredients produce scrumptious results.  

Classic Tiramisu
250g mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 egg, separated 
1/4 cup sugar
32 ladyfinger biscuits
1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled 
liquor/Kahlua to taste
cocoa powder for serving
Gather together all of your ingredients. 
Add the sugar to the egg yolk and beat till frothy. Add mascarpone and beat well. Fold in the whipped cream. Beat the egg white in a separate bowl and fold that in, too. 
Begin the layering process. First mix in the liquor into the cooled coffee. Dunk the lady fingers into the coffee mixture and let them soak for 1-2 seconds (just to absorb the flavor and moisture). Organize the ladyfingers on the bottom of the serving dish. Once fully covered, spoon the cream mixture on top until it forms a uniform layer. Dust with cocoa powder. Repeat this process, but don't dust with cocoa powder this time. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight; the longer it sets, the more the flavors will settle and fuse together, bringing out a wonderful taste and texture. Finish with a sifting of cocoa powder just before serving. 

Classics are best kept simple and elegant, so the only addition I would suggest is a few berries by the side. Always remember, there is no need to overdo an already perfect dish. It is best consumed within three days, but it probably won't last that long anyways, so no need to worry! Last, but definitely not least, enjoy :)


The Ever-Famous Flour Bakery in Boston

Last summer, my family and I drove around the East Coast of the USA, touring colleges and catching a glimpse of a part of the USA we had not visited before. As an avid viewer of Food Network, I came across Flour Bakery and Cafe, which was mentioned on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Flour bakery is a small chain started by Harvard graduate Joanna Chang, who also now happens to be one of my inspirations after I went to Flour and read more about her. Once I knew we were coming to Boston, I was determined to do whatever it took to come and find this little place. After over an hour of walking, we arrived at one of their three locations. It was afternoon and the perfect time for a little sweet pick-me-up treat. 

I am in love with fruit tarts, so naturally, I chose the fruit tart. However, it was a tough decision between the fruit tart and their sticky buns (speciality) that were shown on Food Network. I do, still, have a picture of the gooey, caramel-y, decadent sticky buns, because my mom chose them. Covered in pecans and an excess of sticky sauce, these sticky buns are to die for and a must have. As for the fruit tart, they were good for someone like me who loves fruit tarts, but were not the best option on the menu, so do make sure you try the sticky buns if you ever make it to Flour Bakery.
We throughly enjoyed our first experience, so two days later, we headed to one of their other locations, where we ate lunch. The salmon and cream cheese sandwich I ate was, hearty, scrumptious and mouth-watering just like everything on their menu. Long story short: GO VISIT FLOUR BAKERY. You will thank me!


Cranberry Loaf

This aromatic cranberry bread gives off the most amazing smell when baking. Your home is sure to smell like a wonderful combination of cranberries and orange juice. I love eating this cranberry bread as a snack in school or after I come back home.

It is super simple, nutritious and can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.

Cranberry Bread
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder, divided
3 1/2 tbsp neutral oil, divided
1 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of the oil and mix to coat the dry ingredients. Add the orange zest and dried cranberries. The flour mixture should completely coat the zest and cranberries. In a separate mixing bowl, mix the remaining oil, water and baking powder. Add the orange juice to this mixture. Pour the wet ingredients and maple syrup onto the dry flour mixture and stir just enough to combine all ingredients. Do not overmix. Pour into a loaf baking dish lined with baking paper. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

As always, this is best served warm but really tastes good at any temperature and at any time of the day.  Serve it with a pat of butter, jam, a glass of milk or a cup of tea/coffee. Eat it for breakfast, tea or just sneak a slice when you're in the mood.


Best Soft Serve on the Planet

This summer, my dear family and I embarked on a journey to explore the Scandinavian region... In Bergen, Norway, I was introduced to undoubtedly the best soft serve ice cream that could ever exist. Called Softies in that part of the world, this soft serve is out of this world - it has a super-duper creamy consistency, the perfect sweetness and just the right amount of vanilla flavor. The best part, however, were the topping options that came with these softies (oh, and the fact that the serving size is absolutely humongous - which is just even better!). The toppings ranged from hot fudge, to sprinkles, nougat, caramelized nuts, crispy butterscotch, licorice, peppermint, chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder and many more. They do not skimp with the toppings either; in fact, each softie is rolled around in the topping so that the entire exterior of the softie is coated in the topping(s) of your choice. We spent three days in Bergen, and I ate a softie on every one of these days. Below are my three creations :)
A softie with butterscotch and cocoa. 
A softie with sprinkles. Let me assure you: these are no ordinary sprinkles. 
Now, let's be honest; regular sprinkles look nice and add color to any dessert, but they lack flavor.
Not these sprinkles - they are fabulous: sweet, crunchy and completely unique.
A softie with caramelized nuts and hot fudge. 

No, I can't pick out my favorite because all three were genuinely awesome. But one thing's for sure - they beat any other soft serve any day. (Also note the cool colored spoons). If you ever venture out here, you don't need to go searching for these softies - they are served at any ice cream or coffee store and even at mini-marts. This does not mean they are not special - DO NOT underestimate them in any way.