Teacup Cake

Gluten Free – Grain Free – Refined Sugar Free – Dairy Free – Paleo

Cooking time – 3 minutes, Serves 1

So is it a Teacup Cake or a Tea Cupcake?

A Mud Cake or a Mug Cake?

Scrumdiddiliumptious or Yumskiddilidumptious?

Some of life’s great questions. All I know is that I played around with a few healthy ingredients and ended up with the most gorgeous little cake-for-one recipe. This is perfect for when you have a sweet craving but cannot be trusted with the whole cake. This being said, it is a healthy (read; gluten free, sugar free, grain free, dairy free) recipe so even if you don’t limit yourself to just one cup you are doing okay!

I have to apologise for the photo quality… I didn’t expect to be successful so I was just playing around on my phone before putting it up on Instagram (come follow me! My user name is @oliveonblonde). Don’t worry, the photo quality is not representative of the taste. It is Delicious with a capital D.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5 tablespoons Almond Meal
  • 1.5 tablespoons Organic Raw Cacao
  • 1 tablespoon Raw Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Coconut Butter
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt (try go for an unprocessed one like Pink Himalayan)
  • 1 Egg

Optional

I topped mine with some Cashew Cream I had already made and some Cacao Nibs.

To make Cashew Cream you need raw cashews, non-dairy milk, natural sweetener and a vanilla pod. I swear by Vegan Sparkles (one of my fave bloggers and friends) fail-safe recipe – see it here. (This will mean recipe takes about 10 minutes instead of 3)

It is perfect by itself but if you want something extra but don’t want to make the cashew cream get creative… berries, nut butter and honey. Get creative!

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a teacup.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Optional: Top with Cashew Cream and Cacao nibs.
  4. That is it. Seriously.

NOTE: If you want to make a bigger cake, double the ingredients, put in a mug and microwave for two minutes!

Great for kids!!! (My husband wanted to add that he is proof that it is child friendly – even he managed to cook one!)

A Super Simple Cushion Tutorial

I am slowly but surely teaching myself to sew. It makes sense on so many levels and brings with it so many benefits – a lot of them in line with my eco philosophy’s:

  • I can source locally made and/or organic fabrics to make my own products.
  • I can create a whole heap more upcycling projects that I spy on Pinterest (follow me here) which not only have less impact but can help me be greener – produce bags… I’m comin’ for you next!
  • It will be a whole lot easier to avoid that nasty ‘Made in China’ label
  • I will have a greater attachment and pride in my possessions because I will understand all the work that went into them!

My first project to get me into the groove has been making a recycled pallet day bed (which I can’t wait to share with you next week once it is complete!). And what does every daybed need? A million throw cushions, that’s what! As this is my first time behind the machine I didn’t want to have the trouble of zips and buttons – I wanted quick and simple. I found a few blog sites that detailed how to make this pouch style cushion and I am happy to say it was easy enough for even me to master. And I mean master… I have sewed 19 of them in 2 weeks! Here are a few being enjoyed by Velcro the little stray kitten we rescued last month (read about her here).

**Special thanks and love has to go to my amazing, stupendous, wonderful and above all progressive husband here! My first attempt at sewing a cushion was after our antenatal class where I was shown all the surgical equipment that can be used during labour and was told of all the possibilities that could go wrong. To say I was emotional was an understatement. I knew so little about sewing that I didn’t know you had to even clamp the sewing foot down and I buggered up the machine and ended up face down on the table bawling. But my man of many talents cleaned me up and showed me a few basics and I haven’t stopped since. What a superstar!  

Equipment

  • Sewing Machine
  • Pins
  • Fabric
  • Cushion Insert
  • Chalk / Pencil
  • Ruler / Measuring Tape
  • Scissors (Fabric scissors are SO worth it!)

Method

1. When you buy your cushion insert you will be given the dimensions – pictured below is Size 24: 61cms x 61cms (24″ x 24″). Measure out with your tape measure a shape the same size as the dimensions. You do not need to allow for a hem or for the stitch – you want your cushion to be snug and… well… cushy!

Mark out the shape with chalk or a proper fabric pencil (obviously on the inside of the material). This may take a bit of playing around to make sure you get it square.

This piece will be the front of your cushion.

2. Cut out your front shape.

3. You then need to cut out the two back flaps which will form the pouch to insert your cushions. There is no exact science on this and there is a little wiggle room but you want the ‘flaps’ to be approximately two thirds the height of the front piece of fabric. For example both flaps should measure…

  • As wide as the front piece of fabric
  • Approx two thirds the height of the front piece of fabric PLUS 2cms (approx 1″) for a small hem

EXAMPLE: The three pieces of my fabric were as follows;

  • Front Piece – 61cms x 61cms (24″ x 24″)
  • 2 x back pieces – 42cms x 61cms (16″ x 24″)

4. You then need to hem one edge of each of the back flaps. To do this fold the material over and pin it. My hems were 2cms (approx 1″). If you want to really crease the hems  then iron them which will flatten them. Whizz it through your sewing machine and tie off the ends.

5. Then pin all your pieces together ready for sewing- which for the amateur sewer can be confusing at first. Lie your cover piece flat on a table with the pretty outside of the cushion facing up. Then place your first flap squarely onto it so that the ugly inside of the fabric is facing up. Repeat with the other piece therefore completing the back square.

Pin along the edges securely. Make sure you pin the edges of the flaps down to ensure that they don’t get folded while you sew.

Sew along each edge and tie the threads off.

6. Once you have sewed all four sides turn your cover inside out and stuff your insert into it. Give it a bit of a plump and a fluff until it looks deliciously inviting and voila! You have a sturdy, simple cushion!I hope that made sense! I have had great success with them and have used all sort of different materials with them. The best bit is, your average store-bought, mass-produced cushion seems to retail for $50 these days. That is an absolutely HUGE mark up. If you want your life filled with beautiful cushions, this is the way to go!

 

Olives’ Healthy Anzac Biccies! (Vegan)

Vegan

Preparation time – 10 minutes; Cooking time – 10 minutes

Makes 12 big beautiful biscuits

Finally… after literally years of deliberation… I am ready to plant seedlings into our veggie patches. Helping me with the job is my delightful sister-in-law and my beautiful niece and nephew. So how does one ply a 2 and 3 year old to actually assist with the planting rather than setting themselves to ‘distract and destroy mode’? Well, surely you can’t go past a good old Aussie biscuit for that job? So I quickly make a batch of my version of Anzac Biscuits. While they aren’t super-duper healthy they are free from dairy and are a million times better than anything you are going to find in a packet. Instead of being chock full of butter I used coconut oil and I slightly reduced the flour content by bulking it up with sultana’s instead. Best thing – they took 10 minutes and are delicious.

Such an easy way to create a waste-free healthy treat! And I think it is safe to say that my bribe worked and the little gremlins were all too happy to help with the planting afterwards…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup wholemeal self-raising flour (if you use plain make sure to add 1 tsp baking/bicarb soda mixed with 1 tablespoon of boiling water + 1/2 tsp salt at Step 3)
  • 2/3 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 Cup sultana’s
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2.5 tablespoons golden syrup

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease a baking tray in preparation.
  2. In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients: oats, flour, coconut, sultana’s and sugar.
  3. Melt the coconut oil and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat. (if you have used plain flour add the bicarb mix now!)
  4. Pour your golden syrup/coconut mix into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Roll the mixture into 12 even balls (I used a soup spoon to measure them out). It may be a little crumbly so just squeeze it tightly into a ball with your hands.
  6. Place on baking trays and softly press the center of them down with a fork so they are slightly flattened.
  7. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
  8. They will still be very soft when you remove them from the oven – don’t let it fool you into putting them back in. Everyone loves a soft biccy! Let them cool before removing them from the tray.
  9. Take your prompt from John and… NOM!!!

Nom nom nom

Upcycled Tin Cans

Since cutting plastic out of my life I don’t really have to deal with too much wasted food packaging. However, I am English which means there is some packaging that will never be truly banished from my world: the humble aluminium casing that temporarily houses my baked beans! Due to my jacket-tatty-with-beans addiction I have accumulated quite a few of these cans and while they are recyclable I much prefer to reuse where I can. Then while I was cruising the interwebs I spied the below picture and got all inspired…

What a sweet and clever idea! So I decided to expand on that and instead cover my cans with pretty paper – because my cans would not look as gorgeously rustic as those pictured… it would literally just be a big collection of Heinz beans cans! Either way I think the results are gorgeous and this would make a gorgeous eco solution for a wedding centerpieces which would hardly break the budget (the whole project cost me $12). Best thing about this project – it was unbelievably quick and simple.

What You’ll Need

  • Washed tin cans
  • Pretty paper (a standard can will get use half a sheet)
  • Ruler (Steel ruler would be best for accuracy)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun

Method

Wash all your tin cans thoroughly and remove labels. Having little remnants of paper is fine – they may even help with the adhesion of the paper.

Without glue, wrap a sheet of paper around the width of the can (to see the amount you will need). I always allow for a 2cm overlap.

Fold the excess amount back over itself. You can then cut along the crease line.

Then measure the length of the can as accurately as possible. If you want to have a little leeway make sure you cut the paper a little thinner rather than leaving it a little too wide – you don’t want the paper taller than the can as it will fray and get messy.

Now you are ready to roll (literally). Apply a stripe of glue along one end of the paper (the shorter end that will go across the height of the can).

Carefully place and stick the paper onto the can keeping it as straight as possible.

Once the paper is stuck to the can, flip it over so that you can see the underside of the paper and apply 4 lines of glue – along the top, middle, bottom and side of the paper. Carefully (and as quickly as possible so the glue doesn’t dry) roll the paper around the can.

If the edge of the paper is not completely stuck down apply small blobs of glue to the corners. You don’t want the blobs to be too big as they may squish out and look untidy.

And Voila!!! Repeat this for each of your cans until you have a beautiful assortment of colours and patterns.

Once you have your assortment of cans fill them with flowers and/or tea lights and use them as a centre-piece for a table or a beautiful feature on a side table or shelf.

If filling them with flowers here are two things to consider;

  1. You will have to be very careful with water as the new coating is paper and will ruin if it is wet
  2. Try to avoid cut flowers from stores! As I explained in this post they are often imported and wrapped in plastic. The ones I have used in this picture are a mixture of weeds from the verge-side in my suburb or a few flowers from my own garden. I can’t wait until my lavender bushes really kick off for this very purpose!

Anyway… here are a few more pictures. Happy crafting!

Add some tea-lights for some extra pretty mood lighting!

Since completing this project I have seen that loads of people have done similar with their old tin cans. You can follow me on Pinterest here but for the moment here are some special mentions of some other gorgeous tin can upcycling projects…

Such a stunning arrangement for a baby shower from Bump Smitten.com

Pretty pen pots from Craft Gawker.com

More storage tins… this time with ribbons! From The Ornament Girl.com/blog/

Classic White Votive Tins from One Womens Haven.blogspot.com.au

Raw Fruit and Nut Chocolate

Vegan – Sugar Free – Gluten Free – Paleo

 Preparation – 10 mins; Freezing time – 1 hour

Makes a massive block! 

Insanely yummy!

And just like that… my life will never be the same again! Everyday, bang on 2pm, I find myself with an all-consuming urge to seek and destroy all chocolate products within a 5km radius. Instead of denying myself though I wanted to try and make my own healthy version. Then I was reading a post on the Wellness Warrior’s blog where she provided a super simple chocolate recipe with just 5 nutritious ingredients and 6 easy steps. Surely it can’t be so simple? Well… IT IS. This is the best stuff I have ever made and both my husband and I took stashes into the office to experiment on our colleagues. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Woot woot! This will only take you a few minutes and is so deliciously indulgent that I can guarantee you will be hooked as well!

Where To Buy

If you can do a regular shop at a health food store or one that allows the bulk purchase of things like grains and flours then you will find all the ingredients you need in the one place. It’s also great for you to take your own container and go plastic free! Otherwise you can check out these alternatives…

  • Dates, Almonds and Maple Syrup – can all be found at supermarkets and grocery stores.
  • Coconut Oil – I have recently heard that Coconut Oil is available in supermarkets  in the Asian food section.
  • Raw Cacao Powder – I have only seen this at health food stores or bulk style shops.

Ingredients

  • 110 grams raw almonds
  • 170 grams coconut oil (try cold pressed, virgin if possible)
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao
  • A handful of medjool dates, chopped (I will use more next time… probably 15. But I LOVE dates at the moment).
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (make sure it’s 100% pure – not just flavored syrup)

Method

1)   Line a baking tray with baking paper or alfoil and place in the freezer to chill.

2)   Grind almonds in a blender / food processor until they are finely chopped (not quite a powder though).


3)   If your coconut oil is solid, gently warm in a saucepan until it is all liquid (do not boil!).

4)   Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients; almonds, raw cacao, dates and maple syrup.

5)   Pour the mixture onto your tray and spread it out evenly then put into the freezer until it has set. This won’t even take an hour!

6)   Chop the chocolate into chunks or rough squares. For Christmas pressies I am going to try and set the chocolate using cookie cutters shapes too!

NOTE: You’ll need to keep this stuff in the freezer between snacks. That is if you can hold out on the nom nom nom…

NOTE: That is a pregnant belly… not a chocolate belly!!!

 

DIY Avocado Hair Mask

While it may seem (and feel) a little odd to be mushing avocado into your lovely locks, it is actually a tried and tested beauty trick! Avocado’s are a very oily fruit and this oil actually forms a protective barrier on your hair which promotes elasticity… basically it makes your hair soft, flexible and hydrated. This nourishment also means that your hair is less susceptible to breakages and becoming dry – great for the other blondies out there!

I think the best part about it though is that you avoid using nasty chemicals that are found in your standard products, it’s cruelty free and reduces wasteful packaging. Also, a very common ingredient in your average hair products is Palm Oil which is incredibly damaging environmentally (read about that here).  So get ready to have a laugh and give this super simple beauty DIY a go!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 3 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 drops of lavender or rosemary essential oil
  • A good sense of humour

Method

1. Mash avocado. Then add lavender and olive oil and mash again.

2. Apply to hair, focusing on the ends. If hair is still a little dry then put a put of olive oil on hands and run through.

Ewww… there is salad in my hair!

3. Leave on for 10 minutes. (Good time to do a face mask as well. Go on, do the full pamper thing… you deserve it!)

4. Then I just washed and combed (while in the shower) and left it to dry. My hair really felt conditioned and healthy. I think you’ll agree that the results were amazing…

Of course I am only kidding about the last picture but I definitely did feel the benefits of the treatment. It was so nice applying a mask to my hair and knowing that it was made of organic, natural ingredients rather than synthetics, parabens and artificial fragrances.

Are there any natural beauty secrets that you use? Would love to hear in the comments.