8 Simple Reasons To Love Melbourne

Greetings from the land of very changeable weather, hipsters and great coffee

I moved to Melbourne nearly four years ago, four, years ago. I have no idea how its been that long but I will admit, I love it just as much, if not more than I did when we first moved here. Melbourne isn’t (as) flashy like Sydney, nor hot all year round like the far north neighbours. Melbourne is vibrant, cultural, energetic and completely unpredictable. Of course, no city is perfect, but Melbourne, for me, comes pretty close. Here’s why…

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THE GARDENS

One of my absolute favourite things about Melbourne is all of the public gardens. Although I live in the inner city, I still have many gardens and parks within a 10-20min walk. In fact, in and around the inner city there are 12 well known gardens to visit! All slightly different.

A few of my favourites would be Kings Domain/ The Royal Botanical Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and Carlton Gardens.

I think this is something that really sets Melbourne apart from other cities and part of the reason it has more livability than others. Beautiful.

THE VIBE & STREET ART

Unpredictable personality, Vibrant Laneways and hidden secret bars and restaurants are all of what makes Melbourne so unique. From an outsiders point of view, places such as Collins Street and Bourke Street at first glance are just typical city streets. Loads of people, shops and small cafes. From an insiders point of view, there is so much more.

There are little laneways which are home to small, locally owned cafes and restaurants as well as sellers of coffee utensils, sustainable clothing and probably even a hidden gym or two.

There are the famous laneways such as Hosier Lane and ACDC Lane which are always worth a look, but no matter where you go in the city, behind a random dumpster, there is probably something quite unique and beautiful.

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THE FOOD AND COFFEE

Where to even start.

Food in Melbourne is genuinely glorious. It has everything from high flying Brunch spots (Read here) to weird and wonderful (and crazy expensive) options such as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Plus everything in between. As someone who is somewhat health conscious & enjoys living the health wanker life, there are also many options available too.

Melbourne is called the coffee capital of Australia for good reason. More and more brilliant coffee shops are popping up all around. Not only in the hipster suburbs, but also right in the city centre. I will be writing a blog post soon of all my favs but for now, just do a small amount of googling and you will find some finger licking good places.

THE MARKETS

Since moving to Melbourne and living so close to a few big markets I have really become quite obsessed and going to the Market on a Sunday is a bit of a tradition.  Markets are a great place to start when visiting any new place because you get a glimpse of the local fresh produce, food scene as well finding gems from local artists and creative types.

There are a few markets in Melbourne which are definitely a must see. The first being the Queen Victoria Market. Its quite famous in Melbourne and has everything from food to vintage clothing to live bands and much more. There is also a Night Market which runs out of here at certain times of the year which is quite the experience.

My favourite markets are ones which are a little smaller. Being the South Melbourne Market & the Prahran Market. Both have a great fresh produce section as well as amazing deli’s and restaurants.

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THE NEIGHBOURHOODS

From the quirky health cafes and cozy old pubs in Fitzroy, to upmarket clothing and food boutiques in Prahran, the over the top and elegant leafy mansions of Toorak and  backpackers or wind surfers enjoying the beach vibe of St Kilda. The inner city suburbs of Melbourne really are like mini cities or towns in themselves, all known for different things.

The variety of neighbourhoods is part of the reason I never tell friends and family to only come for a weekend. You could literally spend the whole time in just one suburb or the inner city without getting bored!

TRAMS

As much as everyone in Melbourne complains about the public transport, it really isn’t that bad. Especially in comparison to other big cities around the world. In Auckland, your only option is a bus, in London, you have a really overpriced tube or a bus that takes the long way around. Here, we have it pretty good. Free trams in the City Circle which run pretty frequently and they also look pretty cool, especially the older ones. The trams in the city give Melbourne that little hint of differentness as well as just being pretty cool.

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THE DAY TRIPS

This is such an amazing bonus of living in Melbourne. Whether you like the beach, the mountains, the forrest or wineries, within a few hours on the train or via car you can have a bit of everything.

My favourites have to be The Great Ocean Road & The Otways, The Mornington Peninsula, The Dandenong Ranges and going north to places such as Mt Macedon. Which, as a side note, has a had a fair bit of snow this winter, pretty exciting.

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ALL THE EVENTS

Do you like sports? Food? Wine? Beer? Crafts? Clothing?

Well, then Melbourne is for you. There is quite literally an event for everything at some point in the year and if you get bored in between, no doubt there will be a hit band or theatre show which is bound to be interesting and make for a good night out.

You will never be bored, especially if you have a money tree growing in your back yard, which can be the downside off all these events. Melbourne isn’t exactly the most cost effective city.

To sum up. I love Melbourne, for all these reasons and more. I feel very grateful to live here and find myself realising this quite often. Even the small things, such as appreciating the cityscape at 5.30 in the morning can be enough on a bad day to bring me back to life.

The Ultimate Nutty Banana Muffin Recipe

Because Banana Bread requires far too much self control

I made these muffins as a ‘lunchbox’ snack, to beat that afternoon lull that we all love.. They are full of only good ingredients & are so delicious. They are also fairly versatile and can be personalized depending on how you are feeling that week.

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Ingredients:

1.5 Cups Spelt Flour
3 TBSP Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder

3 Eggs
3 TBSP Coconut Oil
Splash Vanilla Extract
3 Overripe Mashed Bananas

9 tsps Nut Butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan bake.

Mix the Flour, Coconut Sugar & Baking Powder together in a large bowl
– I use a whisk to mix these ingredients together as it distributes them better

In a small pot, heat the coconut oil enough to melt it but don’t let it get to hot and bubble or start spitting.

Mash the bananas and add these into the dry ingredients along with the eggs & vanilla extract.

Lastly mix in the coconut oil. At this point you will be able to tell whether the mixture is too runny or thick. If it is too runny, add in extra flour 1tsp at a time until the mixture gets to the right consistency. If it is too thick, add in milk a little at a time until it gets to the right consistency.

Fill muffin cases half way & add 1 tsp of Nut Butter in before filling the cases to the top.

Bake for 20-25mins or until a fork comes out clean.

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These muffins come out fluffy, soft and delicious. To change up the recipe, instead of using nut butter, you could always add in chocolate chips, berries or even just some chopped nuts.

If any of the ingredients in this recipe look unfamiliar or you don’t have them, feel free to comment and I can give you some recommendations for substitutions.

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The Melbourne Brunch Guide | 6 Places You Can’t Miss!

Melbourne does love a Sunday Brunch

Melbourne is well known for being the Australian capital for all things Coffee.. but do you know what goes really well with coffee? Great food! Brunch is my favourite meal for sure mainly because it is only really enjoyed during the weekend and probably only became a thing because people wanted a glorious sleep in. So, here are 6 of my favourite pick for places to go in Inner City Melbourne.

Top Paddock – Richmond. 

The Food at this place is incredible. Not even just the range or the taste. The presentation is immaculate (‘Cough, Cough’ the Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake). There are ‘healthier’ and some more indulgent options depending on how you are feeling, however I would reccomend having a fairly big appetite when going!
The cafe itself has a really beautiful design. Its comfortable and quite open  compared to some other options in Melbourne.

Tip – Get in Early! Or you may be waiting a fair while for a table.

Pilar of Salt – South Yarra/ Richmond. 

Once again – this is a cafe that if you want a decent table and a short waiting time, get in early! I have been here a few times, early morning and after lunch and it seems no matter the time, theres a chance of waiting! But for a good reason.
Firstly. The coffee at this Cafe is seriously top notch! The cold brew however is def a go to for me as its just, good. Like, really good.
The food here is also pretty bloody good and the menu does cater to a lot, if not all walks of life and it quite veried (Would you like the Pancakes? an Eggs Bene? Or maybe an Hawaiian Poke Bowl?). The atomsphere of the Cafe itself is also really cool both inside and in the back/ outside area. On the way out you must also get one of their delicious treats from the front desk (Drooools).

Tip: Request a place to sit if you are fussy, or you may end up at a very busy and loud share table.

Serotonin Eatery – Burnley.

Seratonin Eatery

Are you the type of person who loves Smashed Avo, Vegan Pancakes or a Matcha/ Tumeric/ Cacao Coconut Latte with a Smiley Face like myself? Then you will love this place! As the name would suggest, you walk into this Cafe and you cant help but feel Happy! If it isn’t the Smiley face on the Top of your  latte, the Japanese Style share tables will seriously make you go, Wow. This Place is Cool!
The food is all Plant Based, very nutritious and delicious 🙂 Even the names on the Menu make you  smile and feel good (Positive Pancakes and Smiling Smashed Avo have to be my favs!)
My Favourite part of this Cafe however has to be the incredible comprehensive list of drinks! Protein Lattes, Coconut Cacao Lattes, Tumeric Lattes’ – ALL THE LATTES. I seriously love it and want to try them all! Even if you arent hungry, just go there for a drink!

Tip – Google map it by street view before you go or you may not find it easily ( like me and end up waaaay down the road).

Oscar Cooper – Prahran.

I have been lucky enough to dine at this cafe a few times and each time I have thoroughly enjoyed it! The atmosphere is really nice. Its cosy and warm in the winter (even when you are seated right by the door) but they also have some outdoor seating options which would be great in Summer! Their Jaffles look amazing and I have been told they certainly are. My fav dish is definitely the buttermilk & banana pancakes (dreamy).

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Higher Ground – CBD

This place is #instagramgoals

If you are in Melbourne for a short amount of time and based in the CBD, after a typical Melbourne brunch. This is your place. The menu is pretty great with a wide range of options for everyone (once again has the famous pancake as it is a sister cafe of Top Paddock). The savoury dishes are also good!

I had the Lamb Sausage Roll and although the portion size was smaller, I was still satisfied. The interior of this place is actually just incredible. Its so big with a load of greenery. It IS the place to instagram.
Tip: once again, get in early so you aren’t waiting an hour!

5 and Dime Bagel

This one is a little different to the others and as you can imagine, is Bagel focused. If you like a good bagel. This is where you need to go ( or one of its suppliers). For me this ticks the box of a really good, cheap, on the go (but you can eat in) breakfast or brunch. You do need to get there early during the weekend however its so worth it. SO many options of things to have on and they actually do really great coffee to have with them!
My personal favourites are the Bacon Maple Chipotle or the Smoked Trout!

There are so many more amazing Cafes around Melbourne! This list could really go on forever! Where’s your favourite place? Where do I need to add to my list?

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Roasted Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Soup Recipe

For anyone new here, I will put my hand up… I. Hate. Winter.

For me, there are two good things about Winter. Soup and the fashion (Coats, Scarves, Boots…). You would think that considering I am a winter baby, I would be all about it. but I have come to realise that this definitely not the case!
I can not stand that it is dark by 5pm. It’s cold. It rains a lot. The days just feel shorter. But anyway…

ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND PUMPKIN – SERVES 6

This is probably one of my all time fav winter soups and its super quick and easy to make.

1/2 Whole Pumpkin Ground Spices (Cumin, Pepper, Salt, Smoked Paprika, Coriander)
1 Large Sweet Potato 2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Carrot 1 Zucchini
2 Onions 2 Vegetable Stock Cubes
2 Garlic Cloves 165mls Coconut Milk (Optional)

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Step One:  Preheat oven to 180C fan bake & Boil a jug fill of Water Step Two: Chop Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, spread on a baking tray and drizzle over olive oil and add spices of choice.
Step Three: Cook Pumpkin and Sweet Potato for approx 40mins (turn half way) Step Four: In a large soup pot, saute Onion, Garlic, Salt & Pepper
Step Five: Grate (or chop) Carrot & Zucchini and add to the soup pot Step Six: Once the Sweet Potato & Pumpkin have finished roasting in the oven, take out and add to the soup pot
Step Seven: Add in the boiling water along with the 2 stock cubes (If you had fresh herbs such as Rosemary or Thyme, you could add these in here too) Step Eight: Put a lid on the pot, turn down to a low heat and simmer the soup for 30 minutes to an hour (30 mins if you are in a hurry, longer if you have time).
Step Nine: (Optional) Add in the Coconut Cream. Step Ten: Once you have taste tested and added more salt and pepper if needed, BLEND. You can do this in an actual blender or with a stick blender (I would recommend option B).

 

WARNING: Blending hot soup can be really dangerous! So if you have time, wait for it to cool down before blending. If you can’t wait, please be careful.

Serve with some fresh sliced bread toasted under a grill and spread with Garlic or topping of choice. If you have some Sesame or Pumpkin Seeds, toast those up and put them on top too!

TIP:
If for some reason you have made the Soup too salty, you can always boil some potatoes to add into the soup – as you may not know this until the end of the process, it would extend the time it takes to make the soup, however, it will save the soup instead of having to start again!

If you try the soup out, let me know how it goes! If its good, share it with Friends and Family – It’s a great excuse to get everyone around on a Sunday for Lunch or as a Starter for Dinner.

NOTE: I am not qualified in Nutrition or anything of the kind (Yet… ;), I just love food and creating recipes!

 

2016 in Review

2016 was such a whirlwind! I feel as though I clicked my fingers and somehow its New Years Eve!

SOUTH AFRICA

Our holiday to South Africa has to be my biggest highlight of the year! It was absolutely incredible. Visiting a country that is entirely different to what you know is something amazing in itself but meeting a lot of awesome new people, Adopting a Chimp, Going on a Safari and Visiting Cape Town was something I will never forget. We only got back a little over a month ago and I already miss it so much! Take me back!

Met a Cheetah while on Safari!
Got to hang out at an amazing Winery in Franschhoek called Babylonstoren.
Adopted a Chimp called Claudine from Chimp Eden
Elephant Family walking to a water hole – Safari Experiences are the best!
Holding and Feeding a Vulture at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre
View from our accomodation in Hout Bay – Cape Town
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town
Visiting the Penguins at Boulders Beach in Simons Town
Dinner at La-grapperia in Paarl
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Chilling on Top of Table Mountain! Literally Chilling. It was Freezzingg!
Lighthouse Cape Point
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Canopy walkway, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden‎
Lions Head | Signal Hill – View from Table Mountain
Cape Point – Lighthouse
Meeting a Tortoise
View of Capetown and Table mountain from Signal Hill

GRADUATION

Both Dietmar and I went back to NZ this year to take the last step with our degrees which was Graduation. It was a pretty cool day and a great moment having that certificate in your hand to say, Well Done, you actually did it!

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KITTY

Our Cat has to be a highlight. She’s a highlight of everyday. She’s Cute and Funny and sometimes a Pain in the Butt, BUT we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Found a way to sleep underneath all the car parts!

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MELBOURNE

 I love this City. It’s nearly been 2 years since we moved our lives across the ditch and for me, its one of the best things I have done. It has changed me a lot, in many good ways and I am grateful to be living here!
I made a point this year of trying to discover more of the city and all its quirks, bars, food, coffee, gardens! It really is a beautiful place and I adore it.

Visiting Hosier Lane – Melbourne has some amazing laneways
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens
Found a flower shop with an amazing Cacti room!
Coffee Stops at The Abbotsford Club

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MEETING INSPIRING PEOPLE

This year I was lucky enough to meet 3 people who I have followed for a long time for different reasons. 2 for Fitness and 1 just because shes a badass and I love it.

Meeting Karissa Pukas at Federation Square
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Meeting Nikki and Heidi at The Arnold Classic!

HAVING SOME OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVS VISIT MELBS!

I have been lucky enough this year to have some of my beautiful friends and family from NZ come over to Melbourne and visit! I do miss everyone so much back home so it really means the world whether its for a stopover for 7 hours or for a week. It really has made my year seeing some of my best friends and showing them around my favourite city!

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All in all 2016 has been an interesting year with some definite highlights! I can’t wait to see what the new year will bring! See you all then X

 

Healthy Banana Pancakes | Recipe

Because, Who doesn’t love Pancakes?

Pancakes

Serves 2

You will need:

  1. Blender/nutribullet/ magicbullet etc
  2. Large Pan
  3. Small saucepan
  4. Coconut oil / any oil for cooking

Pancake Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup Wholegrain Oats
  • 2 Bananas (ripened – aka has brown spots)
  • 4 Medium sized Eggs (or 3 large)
  • 3 Tbsp Almond milk (or regular/ any other milk)
  • (Optional) 1 scoop Protein Powder – I use Prana On – Vanilla

Berry Sauce Recipe

Put all ingredients in the small saucepan and let simmer for approx 10 mins or until pancakes are done.

  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • (Optional) Sweeteners

Pancake Instructions

1. Put the Wholegrain Oats into the blender and blend until it turns into flour consistency.

2. Add 1 Banana (mashed), Eggs, Almond milk and Protein Powder if using.

3. Blend until smooth but thick consistency. (May need to add extra Oats if consistency is too thin or extra milk if too thick).

4. Cook for approx 3-4 mins each side (don’t flip until you see the surface producing bubbles).

5.Serve with the Berry Sauce and toppings of choice!

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ENJOY!! =D

If you try out this recipe, please take a picture and tag me on Instagram & Twitter @Tracyabbott07 or on my Facebook page @tracysantics.

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Protein Balls | Recipe

Snackin’

Bliss balls are an amazing nutritious treat – whether you are living a healthy lifestyle or wanting to try something new. Most bliss balls/ protein balls on the web are very high in fructose/ fruit sugars as they are 78-80% date based. These however, are nut based.

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Bliss balls are fantastic because you can pretty much make them out of anything – Nuts, Dried fruits, Coconut etc etc and they are SO easy! (Providing you have a Food Processor/ Blender of some kind)

YOU WILL NEED

1/3 Cup Rolled Oats
2tbsp Chia Seeds
1/2 Cup Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Brazil – You choose!)
3tbsp Nut Butter (I used Almond)
1 Serving of Protein Powder (Optional)
1 Scoop Coconut Greens (or any alternative you may have)
and a swish of almond milk/ any milk depending on consistency.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add Oats, Nuts, Coconut Greens and Protein Powder (if using) to a blender/ food processor and blend until the nuts have ground down and the ingredients have mixed together.

2. Add in the Nut Butter and Chia Seeds and mix again. The mixture should start sticking together at this point. Blend until the mixture has turned into a cookie dough like consistency.

3. Add the milk if mixture is too dry – don’d add to much or it will get very mushy/ too wet.

4. Roll into balls using about a Tbsp and a half of the mixture for each (or more/ less depending on how big you would like them)

5. (Optional) Roll in Cocoa Powder/ Shredded Coconut.

6. Put them in the fridge/ Freezer to harden to the consistency you would like them.

These will last in the fridge for around a week ( if they last that long!) and a great for a mid morning/ mid afternoon pick me up, Pre-workout/post workout snack or even a after dinner treat!

If you try out this recipe, please take a picture and tag me on Instagram & Twitter @Tracyabbott07 or on my Facebook page @tracysantics.
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