Foodie review – Vietnamese with an authentic twist

Time for another foodie review! B, H and I visited Than Nuong a few months back when I was still pregnant so first of all, just a quick thank you to David at Than Nuong for being so understanding of why my blog review is so delayed!! Secondly, I’ve put in my title ‘an authentic twist’ which might sound a bit contradictory but what I mean is that it’s not like any other Vietnamese restaurant I’ve visited in Brisbane. Than Nuong offers food that reminds me of when we were in Vietnam so it’s a twist for the Brisbane Vietnamese food scene and isn’t just your stock standard curry, spring roll and stir-fry offerings.

We were invited to dine at Than Nuong in Woolloongabba and arrived bright and early as we were dining with a toddler. Staff very kindly brought H an activity pack which he absolutely loved – a great little touch that was very much appreciated by toddler and parents! Sure, he was done and dusted in a matter of minutes but those were some very good distracted minutes!

We started with the mixed entrée which on the menu, said it came with an entrée salad and dipping sauce. The only salad I saw was some lettuce underneath one of the tasters and no dipping sauce. I don’t think either of them was needed, however would advise not putting it on the menu if it’s not served. Interestingly, some of items that came on our mixed entrée plate were not listed on the regular entrée menu. Having said that, everything on the plate was delicious and the size was generous, especially for the price. Each item was really delicious and I loved the variety on offer.

Mixed entree_Than Nuong_lifelovetravelfood
Mixed entree at Than Nuong
@lifelovetravelfood

There was some confusion over our drinks. The beer B ordered wasn’t available – not a problem, he happily chose something else. I ordered a large sparkling water, as listed on the drinks menu. While B’s second beer choice appeared after a while, my drink was no where to be found. We queried it with staff who informed us that they had run out and were just ducking off to buy some more. I am not precious, however would advise just letting us know this rather than leave us wondering if they had forgotten our order. A little while longer we were told they weren’t able to buy any sparkling water and would I like to order something else. I don’t drink soft drink and couldn’t drink alcohol due to being pregnant so decided against it. I then noticed there was soda water in the drinks fridge. I asked staff if I could have one of them (as it’s basically the same as sparkling water) and found it a little odd that they didn’t offer this as an obvious alternative. I realise this does make me seem a little petty which I promise I’m not, I just wanted to be completely honest with my review.

For mains, B ordered the wagu beef steak rice plate. He really loved his meal. The steak was beautifully cooked, tasty salad, well balanced dipping sauce and nice fluffy rice.

Wagu beef steak main_Than Nuong_lifelovetravelfood
Wagu beef steak at Than Nuong
@lifelovetravelfood
Rice bowl_Than Nuong_lifelovetravelfood
Rice with beef main at Than Nuong
@lifelovetravelfood

I chose the make your own rice paper rolls with chilli and coriander pork. I love the concept of making your own, they’re one of my favourite foods so I was thrilled to find this on the menu. The pork was well cooked and had a great charcoal flavour to it which I loved, however I couldn’t detect any chilli or much coriander. That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious, because it was, I just didn’t think it tasted of what was listed on the menu. The additions with the rice paper rolls were great – plenty to choose from, lovely fresh herbs, tasty noodles and nice salad additions. I really enjoyed my meal and it was extremely generous – more than I could eat but B was more than happy to help me finish the last few!

Chilli and coriander pork rice paper rolls_Than Nuong_lifelovetravelfood
Roll your own rice paper rolls at Than Nuong
@lifelovetravelfood
Roll your own rice paper rolls_Than Nuong_lifelovetravelfood
Additions for roll your own rice paper rolls at Than Nuong
@lifelovetravelfood

We had a good meal at Than Nuong, however a few minor tweaks to service could be made to make it a little sleeker. Also, a little more attention to detail on the menu is needed to make the delicious food even better. There are just a few little things needed to improve to make this place really stand out. It’s not your average Vietnamese restaurant, they’re on to a good thing here.

Than Nuong is in Woolloongabba in Brisbane. You can find out more on their website at thannuongrestaurant.com.au/

We were guests of Than Nuong and would like to thank David and the team for having us.

Advertisements

Hippy vs modern medicine

I’ve recently become ‘one of those people’ who has become interested in (ok, perhaps leaning more towards the obsessed side) essential oils. I just really love the idea that we can replace chemicals around the home with more natural alternatives. Especially bringing a new little person in to the world (we got a pink one for anyone who doesn’t follow me on Facebook or instagram!) I was keen to eliminate as many toxic products as possible, hence jumping on the essential oil bandwagon (much to my husband’s delight!)

Don’t stress, I’m not a complete and utter hippy just yet and here’s why. Recently, my delightful toddler brought home some even more delightful germs from daycare and so lovingly spread them to our two week old daughter. H loves his baby sister so much (which is incredibly heartwarming) he is always wanting to touch, kiss,  pat and be around her. B and I are keen to encourage this behaviour as we know transitioning from being an only child to a big brother is a huge change and we don’t want him to resent his little sister. The downside of this is him spreading his germs through his constant contact and Miss H contracted school sores quite badly. We took her to see a doctor who was…. well… useless. She’d never seen this skin issue on such a small baby and offered no reassurance whatsoever. Dr Google and some instagram Mum’s were much more helpful than this medical professional (it took a lot for me not to put professional in inverted commas) and so when she offered to prescribe a cream to treat the sores, I was NOT keen. How can you prescribe a remedy when you don’t even know what the problem is?!

lifelovetravelfood_MissH
Poor lil thing – they looked so sore 😦

Anyway, after a week or so, the sores healed on their own thank goodness and she’s now back to looking absolutely beautiful with perfectly clear baby skin. I on the other hand, also contracted these delightful sores and they were NOT fun. They cracked every time I ate, laughed or talked, re-opening and not allowing them to heal. Also as I was up doing night feeds, my body didn’t get the chance to rest and recover. I put some essential oils on them but because I didn’t know exactly what skin condition I had, it was really just a guessing game so when they weren’t showing any signs of improving, I decided modern medicine was needed. I went to the doctor (a different one!) who took swabs to test what they were (why didn’t the other doctor do this with Miss H?!) prescribed me a dose of antibiotics and a cream treatment. Sure enough, they healed within just a few days which I was so grateful for and knew it was the right thing to do. I’m now about to start a dose of probiotics to try and heal my gut as I know antibiotics wreak havoc on gut flora, and my doctor was totally on board with this as I know some doctors (and husband’s!!) are skeptical about the benefits of probiotics.

lifelovetravefood_MissH
Back to having that beautiful clear newborn skin

On the other hand, essential oils really do have their place for medical things too. Just last night I had quite uncomfortable stomach pains and cramps . I took some paracetamol before I went to bed and then three or so hours later when Miss H woke for a feed, I noticed they were still there. So once Miss H was happily fed and tucked up in her cradle, I rubbed two drops of an oil blend on my stomach before heading back to bed myself. When she woke a few hours later, I noticed my belly felt completely normal again so think this is an excellent example of when oils beat modern medicine.

I myself often wonder if essential oils have a placebo affect but for mild conditions or issues, I’m all for trying the natural alternatives. When the time comes, I will attempt to aid things like teething or tummy aches with essential oil blends but if need be, will most definitely turn to modern medicine.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on essential oils vs modern medicine. What do you think? Are you up against a skeptical husband or family member too?! Let me know in the comments below or drop me a line on instagram or on my Facebook page!

Love Dan xx

Restaurant review – Louisiana Redclaw

So this is fun! A foodie blog post that shows we DO still have a life despite having kids and we DO still go out to dinner (occasionally). Sure, it was mid-week and we were home by 7.30pm but we still went out! My blog used to be littered with fabulous places we’d visited and all the amazing food we’d tried yet these days I’m more about toddler recipes and celebrating when H doesn’t throw food across the dining room.

So when I was invited to dine at Louisiana Redclaw in Fortitude Valley by Chef Robert, I was excited by the offer. I brought along my lovely husband, B, a lover of seafood, and he was a very happy man!

We started with a serving of chips – a restaurant staple and so often done very, VERY poorly. We were offered a half and half plate – the sweet potato fries and potato fries. Perfect because B loves ‘normal’ chips and I like the ‘hippy’ sweet potato ones. The potato chips were delicious and coated in a fabulous seasoning – chips don’t normally float my boat but these were great. The sweet potato fries were my favourite (of course) and a must – delicious!

Louisiana Redclaw_potato and sweet potato fries_lifelovetravelfood
Which would you choose?
Louisiana Redclaw
Image @lifelovetravelfood

We asked our lovely waitress what Chef Robert would like us to try seeing as we were going to be reviewing, and he sent out chilli soft-shell crab sliders. I can see why these are a crowd favourite, the sauce is delicious and the crab is incredibly generous for a slider. I’m not the hugest soft-shell crab fan so B happily polished half of mine as well as all of his!

Louisiana Redclaw_chilli softshell crab slider_lifelovetravelfood
Chilli soft-shell crab sliders
Louisiana Redclaw
Image @lifelovetravelfood

For main, we came for their signature Louisiana seafood boil. Something I’d never tried before, a seafood boil is a traditional Louisiana dish that features crustaceans boiled in fragrant broth with corn, potato and sausage. We enjoyed the Louisiana Redclaw classic platter with Red Claw Signature Zing sauce – spiced medium. It. Was. HUGE.

Louisiana Redclaw_seafood boil_lifelovetravelfood
SO much seafood!
Louisiana Redclaw
Image @lifelovetravelfood

Packed full of clams, mussels, crayfish, snow crab and colossal prawns, the platter was heaving with seafood. Everything was incredibly fresh and very good quality. Too often seafood platters have average seafood but you can tell the Redclaw team are passionate about fresh and the best possible quality. My favourite was definitely the prawns and B couldn’t get enough of the crayfish. You need the bread to mop up that delicious sauce – it was garlicky without being overpowering and spicy without leaving a lasting burn – a fine balance which Chef Robert absolutely nails. I don’t think the chilli jam was necessary on the side of the bread because the sauce in the platter was so damn good! I’d have loved more sausage in the broth, it was really good and I accidentally ate both pieces, leaving none for B to try!

Louisiana Redclaw_seafood boil_lifelovetravelfood
Louisiana Redclaw
Image @lifelovetravelfood

The bibs and gloves are a fun addition to dinner but also very necessary! Note, do NOT wear white when you visit!!

Louisiana Redclaw_lifelovetravelfood
Bib and gloves were totally necessary!
Louisiana Redclaw
Photo @lifelovetravelfood

We had an absolutely terrific meal, the staff were very friendly and attentive and the kitchen features a chef who understands balance of flavours and the importance of fresh, delicious seafood. It’s not a cheap place but you pay for quality and quality is certainly what you get. It’s a great restaurant with a unique-to-Brisbane foodie experience and one I can highly recommend.

Our meal was courtesy of Louisiana Redclaw. Thank you to the team for having us!

www.louisianaredclaw.com.au

SaveSave

Lasagna cups recipe – toddler approved!

Dinner time at our house has become a bit of a challenge. H sometimes eats everything on his plate and the next day he’ll chuck what I thought was his favourite meal all over the floor (usually on the day our cleaner has come – drives me up the wall. And yes, I realise this is a massive #firstworldproblem!) Sometimes he goes to bed with a full tummy, other nights he won’t eat a scrap of dinner. So when I find a meal he loves (and happily eats more than once), I am STOKED and am often shouting about it on my insta – this is one of those times.

Lasagna cups – yes, I could just serve ‘normal’ lasagna but sometimes I like to mix it up for H and get him excited about a new meal. Lasagna is also a perfect meal to sneak in loads of hidden veges (even if he always manages to find the spinach and pick it out, “Yucky ‘pinach. Yucky!”)

Vege packed lasagna cups
Makes approximately 12 lasagna cups

Lasagna cups_lifelovetravelfood

 What you’ll need…
for the mince
2 x tsp olive oil
1 x brown onion, finely diced
2 x cloves garlic, crushed
250g x beef mince
1 x carrot, grated
1 x zucchini, grated
2 x cups spinach, roughly chopped (you can use whatever veges you have on hand)
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
1 x tbsp tomato paste
2 x tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
200ml water (optional)

for the cheese mix
250g x ricotta cheese
1 x egg

everything else
1 x pkt fresh lasagna sheets (I used Latina brand)
½ x cup parmesan, grated
spray oil

– – –

In a frypan, heat your oil then add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the mince and break up any lumps, cooking till brown. Add the carrot and zucchini and cook for a few minutes. Add the spinach, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper and allow to simmer for around 30mins (longer is better but not essential). Add splashes of water if the mixture starts to dry out – usually only if you’re cooking your mixture for a long period of time.

Preheat your oven to 180o. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and egg. Grease your muffin tins with spray oil if you’re not using silicon molds. Cut each lasagna sheet in half and gently press into muffin tins to form a cup. Place beef mixture in to the lasagna cup, top with a spoonful of ricotta mix and sprinkle with parmesan. You can trim the edges of the lasagna cups if you like, or just spritz with a little spray oil as they will go crispy in the oven.

Lasagna cups_lifelovetravelfood

Bake in moderate oven for around 15-25mins, depending on your oven – just until the cheese has melted and the lasagna sheets have crispened up.

Lasagna cups_lifelovetravelfood

Serve with a little side salad – delish!

These can also be frozen so make in bulk and keep some handy in freezer for those nights when you just can’t be bothered for you AND your kids!

– – –

Let me know if you make this recipe and if your little person likes them too! Tag me on instagram @lifelovetravelfood if you do try them! Also, if you have any foodie requests, drop me an email lifelovetravelfood@gmail.com or leave me a comment below.

Love Dan xx

SaveSave

Chocolate for breakfast – it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo AND vegan!

I love breakfast but it wasn’t always like that. I used to eat the same thing every day (often cereals I thought were healthy but were actually full of sugar and evil little additives) and found it SO boring. Slowly but surely, I’ve introduced new, delicious recipes into my morning routine and now, it’s by far my favourite meal of the day.

Cacao buckwheat granola_lifelovetravelfood
Yes, the jar was half gone by the time I took a pic – guilty!
@lifelovetravelfood

This recipe was inspired by Sarah’s Day – a YouTuber who I’m a little bit obsessed with. It’s chocolately (let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast?!) fills you up and it’s healthy! So here’s my new breakfast fav for you all to try.

Cacao buckwheat granola
Recipe inspired by Sarah’s Day

cacao buckwheat granola_lifelovetravelfood
@lifelovetravelfood

 What you need…
* 500g raw buckwheat kernels (see note)
* 1 cup raw nuts – almonds, macadamias, cashews, walnuts
* 1/4 cup dried fruit – apricots, low-sugar cranberries, sultanas
* 1/2 cup mixed seeds – pepitas and sunflower
* 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
* 1 cup coconut chips or shredded coconut
* 2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/3 cup rice malt syrup

Now what…
Pre-heat oven to 180o. Place buckwheat kernels on a tray covered with baking paper, and roast for around 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop your nuts and fruit then place into a large bowl. Add the seeds, cacao, coconut and cinnamon. Add the cooked buckwheat and stir everything together until well combined.

Drizzle over the rice malt syrup and mix well. Give it a taste and add more syrup if you think it needs to be sweeter (keeping in mind you have the dried fruit and will probably serve your granola with berries or banana).

Cacao buckwheat granola_lifelovetravelfood
What it looks like before baking @lifelovetravelfood

Place the mixture on two lined baking trays and spread out evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes (be careful not to burn it) then allow to cool completely before placing into an airtight container and store in the pantry.

Serve with milk (I love almond or coconut milk) or yogurt (or even better, coconut yogurt) and fresh berries or banana. YUM!

cacao buckwheat granola_lifelovetravelfood
Some of my favourite things to add to my granola
Coconut milk – Pure Harvest
Probiotics powder – Pono Probiotics @lifelovetravefood

– – –

If you make my current breakfast obsession (that I will admit, I ate for lunch and dinner two days in a row!) please let me know, I’d love to see your creations! Tag me @lifelovetravelfood #lifelovetravelfood

Note: I buy my buckwheat kernels from Woolworths – it’s the cheapest price per 100g that I’ve found so far AND it’s organic! Win.

raw buckwheat_macro_lifelovetravelfood
The brand of raw buckwheat I buy
@lifelovetravelfood

Love Dan xx

Dealing with the loss of our littlest love

star in sky_image from google

This blog is a little more serious than most of my food-filled, toddler-story blogs but it’s something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now.

As many of you already know, we are incredibly excited and lucky to be pregnant with baby #2, due in July 2018. What many people DON’T know is that in late 2017, we lost a baby. If this is a topic that is too personal or upsetting for you, please stop reading now – I do not want to cause any upset for anyone, this is just my way of coping with losing our baby.

When we made the decision to start trying for our second baby, we were thrilled to discover we’d fallen pregnant straight away. Amazing! All was going well until one day, it just wasn’t.

I was at work and started to bleed. I tried not to panic, immediately messaged my sisters and asked if this had happened to them. They were my rocks, tried to reassure me but mine was quite heavy so deep down, I knew something was very wrong. To be honest, I should have gone home but I tried to make the situation as normal as possible so as to not freak myself out about it.

I continued to bleed through the day and in my heart of hearts, knew I’d lost the baby. To make matters worse, B was working away so I had to go to the doctor’s on my own and that was REALLY tough. My parents and sisters were amazing – they gave me so much support, as did B who cut his work trip short to get back as soon as he could.

The doctor told me it was likely that I had miscarried but would need a scan to confirm it. So my Mum came with me (there was no way I was going alone) and they couldn’t see anything. They tried to reassure me that because I was early on, it didn’t necessarily mean the baby wasn’t there, but I knew Baby Bun (the nickname we’d given to bubba) was gone.

It was hard. REALLY hard. It still is. It’s incredibly difficult to explain how you can be so attached to someone you’ve never met, and who you’ve only known about for a few short weeks. But that was our baby. A little person we created and he or she was gone in the blink of an eye. I immediately started to think about all the things I did wrong and what I could have done better. Was it the feta I ate in my salad or the drinks I had on our anniversary dinner when we didn’t know we were pregnant. But you can’t blame yourself and should never, EVER beat yourself up over losing a baby because it’s just natures way of saying, this wasn’t our baby. This wasn’t out time.

It took me a good few weeks to feel ok about it all and to ‘move on’ (which sounds incredibly cold) but I knew my body had told me this wasn’t right and our baby was still waiting for us.

star in sky_image from google
Image from google

One in four women will experience a miscarriage in their life but that doesn’t make it any easier. As part of my grieving process, I felt it was important for me to write about losing our baby but that’s very personal to me – I enjoy writing and feel it helps me create beautiful memories and ensure that Baby Bun will never be forgotten.

The next steps in our story are a lot brighter. When I felt ready, we decided to try again and were truly amazed that we fell pregnant very soon after. We are expecting baby #2 in July this year and I normally stay away from this phrase but feel we are so, SO blessed, grateful and happy. I am not taking anything for granted and trying to enjoy every moment of this pregnancy (which at times can be VERY hard!) because I realise how incredibly lucky we are. Not everyone is this lucky so we are counting our lucky stars.

So that’s the story of our Baby Bun and why Baby M #2 is our special little rainbow baby. Never forgotten, always in our hearts.

Love Dan xx

heavenly, healthy chocolate (sweet potato) brownies

sweet potato brownies_lifelovetravelfood

A recipe by request and this is one I’m more than happy to share. In high school, chocolate brownies were my signature dish. I made them so often, I got seriously sick of them and even back then, the amount of sugar and butter in them made me feel a bit ill!

Enter the sweet potato brownie – vegan, dairy-free, wheat-free (can be gluten-free too) egg-free and refined sugar free. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it… to give you an example, I made these for my Dad, brother-in-law and husband, and didn’t tell them what was in them until AFTER they all declared they liked them. And I promise you, none of them sugar-coat their feelings about my healthy cooking – they can all be BRUTALLY honest! So let’s get to it – if you make them, please let me know and tag me on Facebook or instagram cause I’d LOVE to get your feedback!

Sweet potato brownies
Recipe adapted from Deliciously Ella

sweet potato brownies_lifelovetravelfood
YES! It even LOOKS like a real brownie!
@lifelovetravelfood

 

What you’ll need…
500g sweet potatoes (about two medium)
* 20 dried, pitted dates (or 12 medjool dates)
* 100g ground almonds
* 100g oats (use gluten-free oats for a fully gluten-free brownie)
* 6 tbsp x raw cacao powder
* 2 tbsp x melted coconut oil
* 3 tbsp x pure maple syrup
* a pinch of salt

for the icing…
2 tbsp x coconut oil
* 2 tbsp x almond butter (or pure peanut butter)
* 2 tbsp x maple syrup
* 2 tbsp x cacao powder

Now what…

Pre-heat oven to 180oC (fan forced). Peel and chop the sweet potato into chunks and place in a steamer to cook for around 15-20 minutes or until really soft.

If using dried dates, soak in boiling water for 10 minutes then drain and discard the liquid.

Once the sweet potato is cooked, add to a food processor along with the dates and blitz to combine. Add the remaining brownie ingredients and blitz again until well combined (mostly so the oats have combined well).

Place into a lined baking pan and cook for about 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Check them after 35 minutes as you don’t want to overcook them.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about ten minutes – don’t skip this step because the brownies need time to cool and stick together.

While the brownies are cooling, make the icing by simply melting the ingredients in the microwave and stirring well to combine. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then into the fridge for a further 15 minutes to firm up.

sweet potato brownies_lifelovetravelfood
You’re welcome
@lifelovetravelfood

Remove the brownies from the pan and leave to cool completely before icing. Spread the icing on top, cut into squares and try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.

sweet potato brownies_lifelovetravelfood
Two pieces missing… for quality testing purposes of course
@lifelovetravelfood

* This recipe is originally by Deliciously Ella – I have just amended the recipe as I found the original too sweet but I definitely cannot take credit for these amazing beauties!

ENJOY!

Love Dan xx

SaveSave