Delicious, healthy no-bake energy balls

It is no secret that I cannot survive without snacks. My biggest fear is going somewhere and running out of things to snack on. For a long time, this meant a handbag full of chocolates and biscuits, but recently I’ve been more conscious of what I put in my body and how it affects me. I’ve been trying to avoid too many sugar filled snacks that leave me tired and lethargic after the initial sugar rush. Yet I’m not entirely ready to give up sweet things just yet. So I’ve been experimenting with energy balls as a quick, easy to make, healthier, energy providing alternative. I can’t say I succeeded entirely in making something healthy, but it sure was tasty!

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They’re called energy balls because the main ingredients are often oats and fruit, with either peanut butter or dates to bind everything together. Rather than sugar and chocolate, you can combine healthier alternatives to make a filling and tasty snack. Add to that things like turmeric, chia seeds or even matcha green tea powder and you’ve got healthy goodness, disguised as a sweet treat!

If you’re not too concerned about the health factor, you can just use whatever you have in your kitchen cupboards to create interesting taste combinations.

What I love about making these energy balls:
they’re quick and easy to make
made with accessible ingredients 
no stovetop/oven required
easy to pack for lunches
can be tailored to your diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan) and food allergies 

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For these energy balls, I literally used what I could find in my kitchen. The first batch consisted of a premade granola mix (rolled oats, crispy rice and shredded coconut), peanut butter and dried cranberries.

For the second batch, I substituted the cranberries for pieces of dark chocolate, and a hint of cinnamon. To be honest, I was more interested in how delicious they would taste rather than how healthy they were at this stage. But hey, dark chocolate is healthy right?

20170408_171548To make

  • Gather your ingredients (see suggested list below). You will need something like peanut butter or dates (blended in a food processor) to bind the ingredients, with oats as your base ingredient.
  • Add all your ingredients together in a large bowl and stir.
    I’m not going to give you exact measurements of what to add. I believe how much you add of each ingredient is entirely dependent on what you prefer. Taste as you go along and trust your instincts.
  • If necessary, nuts and dates may need to be blended in a food processor beforehand.
    Don’t worry about processing it too fine, you’ll want to retain some of the texture.
  • Put the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour to harden slightly.
    This is really important. Without refrigerating, the mixture may be too soft/mushy to roll into balls.
  • Once the mixture has hardened, use your hands to roll into bite size balls.
  • Eat immediately or store in a wax paper lined container in the fridge to enjoy later.

Some ingredient ideas 
peanut butter
crushed nuts: pecan, cashews and almonds are great
nutella (yummm!)
granola mix
coconut
oats
almond butter
cocoa powder
honey
raisin
dates
dry cranberries, blueberries, cherries
orange rind
apricots
choc chip
cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
vanilla
chilli
coffee

And if you want to make it healthy…
chia seeds
matcha green tea powder
flax seeds
chickpeas
turmeric
avocado

The combinations are endless, from peanut butter + chocolate, chocolate + orange, chocolate +chilli to Spicy Mocha and Chickpea Cookie Dough.

The most important part is having fun with taste combinations and enjoying the result after.

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Are you ready for a visual feast?

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Vega Hernando is a textile designer who plays with her food to create the most stunning patterns and then showcases them on Instagram. What I really enjoy is that they’re not just random ingredients; each photo is captioned with the title of the actual meal. So if you’re looking for visual and culinary inspiration, this is the perfect place for you.


These aren’t your average throw-some-items-together-and-take-a-flatlay photos; they’re made with careful consideration and an eye for detail. To be honest, I would frame some of these or even have a cute dress made if some of these prints were transferred onto fabric. The combination of colours and patterns are just gorgeous.

You can see all of them if you follow Eating Patterns on Instagram, or check out the process of creation on Vega’s personal Instagram account. 

MRP will be the death of Millenial Pink

Disclaimer: This is not an in-depth creative critique.
I’m just here to rant.

How do you tell if something has reached peak trendy/hip/mainstream/whatever-the-teens-are-calling-it?

Well my way of knowing is when Mr Price does it to death. I mean, we’ve seen it with flamingos, pineapples (I really felt sorry for my friend Niamh who truly loved pineapples before they were cool), watermelons, delicious monster leaves and now, Millenial Pink.

If you’re asking wtf Millenial Pink is, here you go. Everyone is talking about it/sharing deep articles about it on Facebook/trying to integrate it into their aesthetic (I can’t help but say that last part sarcastically in my head).

There are some fantastic articles which track its rise to popularity, and what makes it so great. A summary: it shed its feminine Barbie connotations, it’s now more associated with androgynous fashion and gender fluidity, it’s ironic, nostalgic, calming and it looks damn good on Instagram (the only place that matters).

I’m more interested in when things stop being trendy. At which point do we start going “oh please no, not that again, make it go away”? While The Cut make a good argument for why the colour refuses to go away, I firmly believe if there’s one place that can possibly overdo it, its Mr Price.

Don’t get me wrong, I love MRP because they’re ridiculously affordable. But when their usual laundry bins (ya know those dark brown wicker ones that all students have?) get replaced with these, that’s when you know.

 

If you too want to jump on that Millenial Pink bandwagon (go on, you know you do) here’s just some of the many things you can currently get from Mr Price. I’m not sure how I feel about a “statement backpack” when the statement you’re making is an Instagram caption cliche (Wanderlust), or a pink Compton beanie, or a “GRL PWR” shirt that’s afraid of vowels.

I’m also not entirely sure why in 2017 there are places still selling bermuda shorts, peplum anything and those high-low dresses. Those are trends we want to stay dead.

However, I do love that pink teacup and I definitely NEED a pink glittery bow in my life.

Heck, what do you know, I actually don’t mind Mr Price going overboard with this after all.

 

 

Feel Frida send some emojis!

We all know how hugely popular Kimojis have been because there are times when nothing else but a Kim crying face can truly express how we feel. But if Kimojis weren’t enough, there are now Fridamojis! Yup, Frida Kahlo emojis!

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via Artsy

What started as an Instagram project by graphic designer Sam Cantor has now led to the release of the Frida Moji app, which lets you choose from a selection of 160 emojis. What I absolutely love is that Frida has NOT been reduced to just a flower crown wearing woman with a monobrow. Through the use of emojis, some of her most amazing and possibly lesser known works are being celebrated.

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via Artsy

Speaking to Artsy, Beatriz Alvarado of the Frida Kahlo Corporation says that she and Sam Cantor “both wanted to channel her voice into everyday life—and, in particular, to connect millennials and centennials to her work.” Using new technologies such as social media and emojis is the perfect way to bring her work to a completely different audience.

I mean just look at these! Who needs regular emojis when Frida is just so expressive?

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via museum_ito on Instagram

Unfortunately, the app is only available to iPhone users at the moment.

How to pack the most efficient work handbag

Last year, I lived and worked in a small town where I took so much for granted, including something as banal as what I chucked in my handbag.

Work was a two minute drive, or 15 minute walk away. I could pop out whenever I wanted to get something to eat, or just go home if I had forgotten something. I also had my own office, so I always had extra jackets/food/blankets/books/everything really in either my office or in the boot of the car.

Now that I’m in a proper city, I can’t just take a walk home. I also take the train instead of driving to work because of the ridiculous traffic and kak parking fees. And I work in an open office so I can’t just leave half my life in there.

So this means that my work efficiency begins right from the moment I leave home, based on how well my bag is packed. Of course, you don’t want to be lugging a suitcase of unnecessary crap around (especially if you work as a journalist like I do) but you also don’t want to be in a situation where you don’t have what you need.

I’ve made a list of the absolute work essentials for your handbag, so that you have just what you need and nothing more.

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Coin purse Just big enough to carry your most important cards, as well as some emergency cash, but not as bulky as a proper wallet.
Earphones Whenever I hit a low-energy work slump, I turn up the volume on my favourite motivational song (without disturbing my co-workers). Also useful for plugging in at the end of the day when you use public transport and don’t want someone taking the opportunity to chat you up.
USB cable/charger Let’s be honest, no battery lasts the whole day, especially not when you’re constantly Instagramming/checking Facebook/editing photos (That’s actually my job ok!)
Lanyard I used to think these were super geeky in uni, but now my bright green lanyard is perfect for my train ticket holder, as well as my office building access card.

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Diary/Year planner Stay ahead of your deadlines by planning your days. Also, working for a magazine means we plan each issue months in advance, so a diary is essential. Bonus: my diary has spaces to doodle and colour in, so that I can be a little creative even in meetings.
Mini notebooks/notepads We might live in a digital world, but nothing beats the satisfaction of ticking something off a handwritten to-do list. Pretty note paper is also so much more inspiring than a screen.
Enough pens and pencils Is there ever enough? Probably, but I always like to have more than I need. A fineliner for those pretty notes, a ballpoint pen for filling in forms, a pencil for taking notes in rainy weather (I learnt this from my first Journ lecturer, Gillian), and of course, coloured pencils for doodles.

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I’m not a huge makeup person, so I don’t need to carry brushes and blenders and all that jazz. I got this super cute cotton pouch, which is actually really small but somehow fits what I do use, which is just the basics. Do your full makeup at home if you must, and carry just the essentials to touch up.
Foundation Look for something with longer lasting coverage and an SPF.
Eyeshadow Choose a colour that is suitable for work, but that can also be glammed up. For me that’s a subtle bronze.
Lip balm Because chapped lips are never good.
Lipstick Again, get something that can be professional and fun (I got this deep plum shade from Clicks for just R15!)
Eyeliner/kohl If I had to wear just one type of makeup, it would be my kajal.

 

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While perfume does last linger than deodorant, you will need another spritz towards the end of the day. Mini bottles are perfect for your handbag and are less likely to break in there. My favourites are DKNY Golden Delicious and DKNY My NY.

Bonus: keep those little sample perfumes that you get free with magazines in your purse for when you don’t have your actual perfume bottle on hand.

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If you go for after-work drinks straight from the office, the last thing you want is to look like you’re still in work mode. Keep a pair of bold sunglasses, one piece of statement jewellery (like these earrings) and even a pair of goes-with-everything heels in your bag.

 

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Whether you buy lunch or take a packed lunch from home, you’re always going to need extra snacks.

Vitamin B tablets These are amazing for your energy levels
Fruit Apples and bananas can easily be chucked into a bag, and are not messy to eat at work.
Cereal bars I love these because they give me the satisfaction of eating a chocolate bar but they’re slightly healthier.
Instant cappucino/mocha sachet For when you don’t have time to get takeaway coffee.
Water I have only just realised the importance of staying hydrated when you’re running around.
Sweets Because sometimes you just need sugar.

And there you have it, everything you need to pack the perfect work bag so that you can be your most efficient you. Let me know if there’s anything else you think should be on this list.

Getting engaged, getting out of town and getting real about life

During the past two months (November/December), there has been SO MANY exciting, fun, totally Instagram worthy things that I’ve had to share. Yet instead of doing so, I went totally AWOL in terms of blogging and writing. I’ve taken some time to recap, and address why sometimes it’s bloody hard to talk about life.

In November, I GOT ENGAGED. Capital shouty letters because it was pretty exciting and now I get to call my boyfriend my “fiance” and that makes me giggle a little.

Also I have the most beautiful ring!

In December, pretty much everything in my life changed (for the better). I finished studying (well almost, I am still finishing up my thesis), I (finally) got my driving licence and moved to a new city full of beauty and opportunities and all round wonderfulness.

You’d think with everything happening, there would be so much to write about. But after two intense months of packing/planning/saving money/travelling/unpacking/exploring, I’ve finally had some time to reflect.

I recently penned a thing on Facebook, quite possibly the most personal thing I’ve ever written. So much of our lives goes up online, mostly edited and curated to show only the very best. And while I’ve had many opportunities to show off all the good happening, I realised that I couldn’t because in reality I spent the last two months feeling too exhausted, too stressed and too anxious to even begin to talk about it. Perhaps this is why I’ve also struggled to write consistently, because there’s this pressure to only talk about the good. So for once in my life, I spoke about the bad. Here goes:

“I want to say it’s been a good year because I got engaged to James, started a new life and in many ways challenged myself beyond what I imagined I could. But honestly 2016 has been fucking difficult. I had to do multiple jobs while also writing my Masters thesis (don’t ask me how that’s going). I had to deal with the feeble hope, the fear and the disappointment that comes with having issues with a parent. I had to lecture to a hall of students, despite my anxiety. I had to deal with the horrible soul crushing realisation that I had no passion for where I was or what I was doing, or that at 23 I already felt old and tired. I had to use up all my money to move to a new city with no real plan, no family here and no job (because I couldn’t bring myself to go back to a place I associate with toxic family issues). I had to drive the 870km here, despite getting my licence just the week before. And I had to spend the festive season alone (which no amount of wine can fix).
I don’t think 2017 is going to be any easier. I’m so broke I’m not entirely sure how I will remain here. I have no clue when I’m going to see James again because we’re from different countries. And I have to somehow find my place while being alone in a city that feels so foreign to me. But despite all these uncertainties and difficulties, I am here and I have survived so far. I’m writing this publicly to remind myself of that because sometimes the thought of what you still have to deal with makes you forget what you’re already capable of. Whatever happens next, my only option is to thrive. I can’t afford to fail. Stumble, maybe, but not fail. Somehow it’s going to be ok. And sometimes just being ok is more than enough.”

I don’t have any resolutions for 2017, but I would like to commit to writing, writing and writing some more. I want to write the creative and the exciting, but I also want to write the tough and the not so glamorous. I want to write life. 

This is the start. 

When work involves food…

This week, Makana Sharp! published our food edition which I had a lot of fun designing and taking photos for. I also got to eat most of what I photographed, so that was an added treat!

While designing for a newspaper supplement is a lot more enjoyable than a standard newspaper format, I do feel restricted in that it still has to look like a newspaper and have multiple articles on one page. I would much rather be working on a magazine where you can dedicate more space to visual content, as well as leave more breathing space around the articles.

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5 Instagram accounts to follow if you love leaves

2016-04-09-05-23-45-1To say that I have a love affair with leaves and want to constantly be surrounded by them may sound like an absurd statement, but let me clarify.

In fashion and in decor, regardless of whether you think it’s kitsch or not, florals are always around. Be it in a floral dress paired with a leather jacket, a wall featuring floral wallpaper or even some scatter cushions, you can’t deny that flowers dominate. While I think flowers are beautiful, I think leaves on their own are wholly underrated and deserve to shine.

I’ve committed to investing in foliage for my house which will last longer and look stunning on my shelves as opposed to bouquets of flowers that hang limp after a few days.

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New plants for my temporary home

Unfortunately, my house is tiny and I can’t fill it with giant elephant leaves so I have to settle for eyeing other peoples’ spectacular home jungles on Instagram. Here are a few of my favourite accounts to follow:

thejungalow

The Jungalow obviously gets first mention as it is the most fantastic collection of plant photography. From simple to eclectic, it never fails to inspire me!

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leafandjune

Lisa Muñoz is an interior plant designer (can you imagine a more glorious job?) and documents the beauty that she creates through plants.

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houseplantssociety

While Kara Riley does feature a lot of flowers as well, her Instagram account is well worth following for the gorgeous leaves peppered throughout.

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urbanjungleblog

Like The Jungalow, Urban Jungle Bloggers document mini jungles within peoples’ homes. It’s amazing to see how an abundance of plants can look so natural in even the tiniest spaces.

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leafandclay

We can’t all have green thumbs, so for those who are prone to killing your plants within days, perhaps being inspired by succulents may be better. Leaf and Clay also have great ideas for how to display these beauties.

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Flatlays for newspapers

Recently I’ve been working with a team of student journalists on a mission to bring a breath of fresh air to our local weekly newspaper. In between the usual news articles, we’ve been creating themed pull-out supplements. In our DIY edition, one of our writers looked at DIY healthcare using what you already have in your cupboard. Usually I just post flatlays on Instagram but this time I got to use it in the design of the article. This was just a start but here’s hoping I get to do a lot more of these!

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Champion MEN deserve champion beer?

I recently ranted about the perceptions of women who drink beer, and in particular the gendered associations with specific beers. I was going to blog about it but here it is in my local paper.

I dedicate this one to all the men who order “girly” drinks for women because 1. you’re clearly incapable of buying yourself a drink and 2. the drink you need is definitely a pink Brutal Fruit *insert sarcastic eye roll*

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