chia seed peanut butter

chia seed peanut butter

I’ve tried this new peanut butter product recently and like it for it is healthy in the sense that it is low in sodium and contains Chia Seeds. At 350 g, Chia Seed Natural Peanut Butter from Mother Nature costs AU$5.50 and is available in supermarkets. Containing 38 mg of salt per serving,  it is less salty than generic brand peanut butter. Interestingly, it claims to contain Australian Oleic peanuts that have more monosaturated fats compared to ordinary peanuts. It also says on the label that if supply of Oleic peanuts is short, the company will source the mentioned peanuts from Argentina. 

Having a 5 star health rating, this product contains only 1.1 g of saturated fat. Its ingredients make up of Oleic peanuts, chia seeds and salt. 

chia seed peanut butter

The overall taste is mild, less salty and quite light while the consistency is thick and creamy. It is ideal for slathering on toast or prepared in a sandwich press with banana slices.  

Disclaimer: I do not receive any commission to write a review on this product. The content and opinions featured in this post are entirely my own, based on my personal experience using the above-mentioned product. 


ricotta spirals with mushrooms

ricotta spirals with mushrooms

Creamy pasta can no doubt be fattening. I love creamy pasta once in a while but feel the guilt after having it since it is laden with heavy cream. I decided to go for the low fat version and prepared creamy ricotta spirals with mushrooms. Yes, you’ve got it. I’ve substituted cream with ricotta. The result is tasty, sans the richness of cream. Here’s how I did it: 

ricotta spiral with mushrooms


grape seed oil 

3/4 packet of spiral pasta 

salt for boiling pasta 

1 large onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

250 g mushrooms, sliced

8 cherry tomatoes, diced

1/2 anchovy cube

250 g ricotta cheese 

1 tbsp chili flakes

pepper to taste

handful of coriander, chopped

Shaved Parmesan for serving 


1. Fill a pot with water and add salt. Boil it over medium heat. Once boiled, add spirals and cook for 8-10 mins or till al dente. Save 1 cup of pasta water, drain the rest of the water into a colander and set spirals aside.  

2. Add oil to a pan over medium heat. Once heated, add onions and cook till they are nearly caramelized. 

3. Add garlic and let it cook. Then add mushrooms and let them sweat, that is, juice oozes out. 

4. Next, add tomatoes and mix the ingredients well. 

5. Add anchovy cube and break it to form a paste. Stir the paste together with the ingredients. If you can’t find anchovy paste, you can add tinned anchovies but ensure that they are finely chopped. 

6. Add the ricotta and then add pasta water to dilute it. The consistency should not be thick. 

7. Add pepper to taste and as an option, as chili flakes. 

8. Stir the mixture and then add the cooked spirals. Blend the ingredients well. 

9. Add coriander for added taste. 

10. Serve on plate and finish with Parmesan shavings. 

This dish is easy and quick to prepare. Ensure that you use anchovy cubes or the ones in the tin for flavour. The pepper and chili flakes with lift the pasta dish to a new level. Alternatively, you can add prawns or shrimps. If you feel generous, use Shitake mushrooms instead. The result is light, satisfying, tasty pasta that keeps the whole family happy. 


fish curry noodles

fish curry noodles

I craved for fish curry noodles last week and prepared it using a variety of ingredients. Fish curry can be prepared many ways. This recipe is different from the curry noodle dish I shared many posts ago. For this dish, I decided to add a little variation, that is, pulping tomatoes and combing it with caramelized onions for an added sweetness. Use tasty, fleshy white fish like perch or snapper. The noodles used is based on preference. In this dish, I use vermicelli noodles instead of egg noodles. I suppose the latter is tastier and if you decide to use it, look for the one in the refrigerated section as it is preservative free.  

 fish curry in pan


1 large onion, sliced

3 large tomatoes, diced

250g snapper, cut in cubes 

3 small sweet potatoes, diced 

2 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt

1 tsbp tamarind paste 

3 sprigs curry leaves

coriander, chopped finely

cumin seeds

mustard seeds

1-2 green chili, sliced

a bunch of asparagus, slant sliced

1 can coconut milk 

1 cup water

1 tsp tumeric powder

2 tsp garam masala

3 tbsp curry powder

salt to taste 

1/2 packet vermicelli noodles 


  1. Heat oil in a cooking skillet at medium heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add curry leaves. 
  2. Add onions and cook till they caramelize.  
  3. Add tomatoes and allow them to soften to near pulp. 
  4. Then add green chili and asparagus. 
  5. In the meantime, shallow fry fish in a separate pan and set aside once cooked. 
  6. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into cubes and cook in microwave for about 6 minutes. 
  7. Place vermicelli in a pot, heat water in a kettle and then pour boiling water over vermicelli to soften it. Leave it aside for 8-10 minutes before draining the noodles.
  8. Add garam masala, tumeric powder and curry powder to the onion and tomato mixture. Mix well.
  9. Add coconut milk and stir ingredients. Add water to slightly dilute the mixture.
  10. Add salt to taste and stir.
  11. Then, add yoghurt to add depth to the taste. 
  12. Add in fish together with the oil that it is cooked in. 
  13. Add tamarind paste and stir. 
  14. Add sweet potatoes and let the curry simmer. 
  15. Lastly, add coriander and stir the curry. 
  16. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes before serving with vermicelli. 

fish curry noodles

The ingredients can easily be found in any Asian supermarket. I like to use Ayam brand curry powder for its taste and texture and Chili brand vermicelli as it is less floury and odourless. Cook the fish curry for a day’s meal as fish leftover the next day will not taste good as it will lose its freshness. This is a delicious meal that can be enjoyed with you family or when you have guests at home. You can choose to add boiled eggs or substitute fish for chicken. Alternatively, serve with rice. 



shitake mushroom wrap

In my recent two post, I shared my homemade pesto as well as shitake mushroom, beansprouts and spinach filling recipes. Today, I’d like to show you how to prepare the shitake mushroom wrap with the pesto base. I usually add avocado slices or sweet potato slices or even pumpkin  cubes. I usually peel and slice the sweet potato and then cook the slices in the microwave for 4 minutes. For the pumpkin cubes, I buy raw cubes from Woolies and then cook them in the microwave in small batches. 

First, slather pesto on wrap. I love Mission Garlic Wrap because of its garlic after-taste. You can use whichever wrap you prefer. There are a variety to choose from. 

Then, I’d add the shitake mushroom, beansprout and spinach filling over the pesto. After which, I will add avocades, or sweet potatoes or pumpkin cubes. Some times, to add variety, I’d add tofu slices or cubes.  

vegetable wrap wrap 2

Tuck in the wrap on the sides and then fold one side upwards to form a parcel. Cut the parcel into half and voila! Wrap the two halves in foil and enjoy it for lunch. 

mushroom wrap


pesto 4

homemade pesto

Last Sunday, I prepared pesto using the Nutribullet in two goes. I harvested a bowlful of basil and half a bowl of parsley that grow thick and wild in the herb garden. Since the Nutriibullet is small, I split the ingredients into two and blended the first batch. After the first set of ingredients had been blended, I repeated the procedure with the second set of ingredients. This worked just fine.  The pesto easily filled up 3/4 of a bottle. 

homemade pesto


One bowl of basil

Half bowl of parsley

4 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup pine nuts

a handful of raw unsalted cashews

3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

extra virgin olive oil


  1. Grate cheese and set aside.
  2. Blend basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts and cashews in Nutribullet. 
  3. Add olive oil every now and then, until all the ingredients turn into paste. 
  4. If paste is thick, dilute it further with more olive oil until it reaches desired consistency. 
  5. Transfer paste from Nutribullet capsule into a sterilized bottle.
  6. Store in fridge and use pesto when required. 

homemade pesto

Pesto is great for slathering on wraps and sandwiches as it adds depth to the taste. It can also be used as pasta base or as a dip.  


wrap shitake

shitake beansprout and spinach filling

Vegetables need not be boring. If you prepare it the right way using the right condiments, vegetables taste great. On most weekdays, I’d prepare a sandwich or wrap for lunch in the mornings using prepared filling. One of my favourite fillings is shitake mushroom, beansprout and spinach combo filling that can be stuffed in wraps or in sandwiches. This will be the base ingredients and I will add others that take my fancy such as sweet potatoes, avocadoes, tomatoes, cucumber, just to name a few.

 shitake beansprout and spinach filling 2 shitake beansprout and spinach filling 3


2 packets of shitake mushrooms, sliced

half a packet of bean sprouts 

half a packet of spinach

3 tbsp oyster sauce

pepper to taste

fresh chilies, sliced or chili flakes

some butter or margarine


  1. Add some butter or margarine to a hot pan over medium heat. Let the butter or margarine melt. 
  2. Add sliced shitake mushrooms to the melted butter or margarine, mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula and let it sweat and soften. 
  3. Next, add beansprouts and then spinach. Mix them thoroughly till the spinach wilts. 
  4. Add oyster sauce and mix the ingredients well. 
  5. Add pepper to taste and chili flakes. If you prefer to add fresh chilies, you should add them after the mushrooms have softened. 
  6. Remove ingredients, place them in a bowl and let them cool. 

This filling should be placed in the fridge. It lasts a week. While it is great to be used as fillings for wraps or sandwiches, it can also be served with rice. Enjoy!


Paperback Vs Hardback VS Kindle: Which Would You Choose?




Have you been faced with the dilemma of choosing between paperback and hardback when deciding to buy for yourself or as a gift? I’m an avid book reader who can’t find enough time to read. I try to devour words on paper or kindle during my commute to work and on weekends. I have about 15 minutes of train wait and a 40 minute commute every weekday morning to enjoy this moment of bliss. This is when I take time to read. On Friday after teaching, I’d look forward to going to a cafe just to snatch at least half an hour of reading time while sipping hot mocha. That is my moment of peace and that space is sacred. It is a luxury. 


At times I feel I live for moments to be with my characters and the setting and get involved in the plot. If I were to read non-fiction which I regularly alternate between fiction, I am totally absorbed in the words, ideas and new pieces of information that I hang on to in a way that I can ponder throughout the day. I usually share my readings on Instagram – emmiethyst. I share my love for books, crystals, nature, interesting places, architecture, food and other things of interest. I’m not a narcissist, so you won’t find photos of me there. 

Anyway, to get back to the topic, I was recently confronted with choosing between hardback and paperback. I had a long list of books I wanted to purchase but eventually decided on 3 books: two hardbacks and one paperback. Here’s why:

1) I buy paperback fiction written by my favourite authors

I stick to this rule of buying paperback fiction only written by my favourite writers. I adore fiction by Daphne Du Murier, Ernest Hemingway, Maeve Binchy,  Jhumpa Lahiri, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel and Isabel Allende. Rule of thumb for me is to buy paperback from these authors so I can keep them for sentimental value after reading them. I can read these books again and again when I feel so inclined in the future. 

2) I buy fiction by other authors on kindle

I buy fiction on kindle by authors other than my favourite ones listed above. This is because books on kindle are cheaper, at an average of AU$10 a copy. They are also read just once and buying them digitally means they don’t collect dust and save storage space. They are also convenient to carry around.  

3) I buy non-fiction paperback in general

I have always bought non-fiction books on paperback. At times I buy them on kindle if there are newly arrived and too expensive. I find that it’s worth buying paperback non-fiction as these are the books I constantly refer to when I need to find inspiration or a new idea or a relevant quote in my writing. 

4) I buy non-fiction hardcover if I really want them quick and get a bargain

Of late, I’ve bought newly published hardcover non-fiction books as they are reasonably priced and the difference in cost is slight when compared to the kindle version. Why didn’t I wait for the paperback ones to be published? Apparently, I can’t wait to own them and when I can get a good discount, I will jump on the opportunity. 

These are hardback books  I recently purchased:

Silence in the age of noise

silence in the age of noise


The gist of this book is to find pockets of silence and destress during a commute or walking through nature. It talks about learning to listen and reflect.  

 Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life


This book is about how having a strong sense of ikigai—the place where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect—means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire. I guess I’m curious to find out. 

I am looking out for the novel ‘Go, Went, Gone’ by Genny Erpenbeck that tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. This book is available on hardcover now, so I’m waiting for the paperback version or mayl get it on kindle since it is a fiction. 

Another book I’m looking out for in paperback is ‘Dear World’ by Bana Alabed. It’s written by a seven year-old Syrian girl, with the help of her mother, who describes the horrors of war. 

So many books, so little time. Yes, I want to devour as many books and since I have little time to spare, I will take precious pockets of time to indulge in books. Paperback, hardcover or kindle, the choice is personal. What are your thoughts on this? 


rose bush

tulips Moidart


So I spent the long weekend in Bowral, in the Southern Highlands. There are two beautiful gardens worth visiting there, Moidart Garden and Milton Garden. These gardens are within close proximity to my accommodation at the Biota. 

Moidart Garden 

Moidart Garden is very English, tucked away in the folds of the highland which is part of the Great Dividing Range that spans from NSW to Queensland. The name Moidart is actually a district on the west coast of Scotland. It was built by Mr James Burns in the early 1930s.  

The garden features mature deciduous trees which provide a stunning display of autumn colours. Specimens include giant sequoia, red oaks, golden elms, chestnuts, london plane trees, copper beech, dogwood, tulip trees and cypress.

close up tulips moidart

I fell in love with the setting in front of the huge house. Graceful white tulips have been planted in neat rows in front of the residence which look like a country manor.  

sunken rose garden

Sunken Rose Garden

To the east of the house, surrounded by manicured hedges, is the famous sunken rose garden. Here a formal layout of beds bordered by box hedges, a central flowering crabapple and gravel paths provide a setting for a magnificent display of classic roses from spring through to autumn.

bluebell walk



rosebush 2

The Terraces

I enjoyed walking past blue bells on either sides of the garden. The place is very tranquil and I never tire looking at the flowers around me. There are also rose bushes that add vibrant colour to the surroundings amidst the blue bells.  

milton park

Milton Park 

Milton Park started off as a property for breeding fine cattle. It was purchased by Anthony Hordern in 1910. In 1960, Milton Park was bought by King Ranch Pty Ltd. This company was responsible for the import of Santa Gertrudis Cattle to Australia in 1952. Cattle breeders from all over Australia converge at this annual sale of top quality stock at Milton Park annually. 

The property has been converted to a hotel in 1984. The place has been refurbished and the garden has been restored to its former glory.  

tulips Milton


tulips 2 Milton

Strolling in the garden feels like what the landed gentry in England must have enjoyed doing in the 19th century. Sans parasols and calico dresses, the stroll was leisurely and everything I saw was a feast to the eyes. There was bound to be something of wonder in little pockets of the garden that is full of character. 

milton gate

The blue bell wood was like a whimsical place tucked in the far corners of the earth. It lay in the shadows of huge trees and a fallen log or two added some character to the place, replicating the scenery at the woods. 

milton trees

The rainbow lawn was dotted with colorful tulips. It was a welcome sight and punctuate the monotony of greenery with colour. 

milton property

We could have spent hours in the garden as the tranquility and beauty were therapeutic. By the end of the walk, we felt refreshed and calm. We were ready to venture to our next destination. 

New Age Tips 

Have you ever wondered why gardening is so therapeutic for many? Just being amidst greenery is an antidote for the soul. Doing mindless work like planting, weeding and watering takes your mind off your worries. Harvesting your fruit or herbs or vegetables gives you that unexplainable satisfaction. 

If you live in a unit or apartment and are fortunate enough to have  a balcony, consider starting a vertical garden. It is not only practical and utilises the amount of space you’ve got, but is also cathartic. 

If you live in a house with a garden, consider planning a layout for a small garden. Before long, you’d be into it and find deep satisfaction in growing your own plants. 

If you have neither a balcony or or space for a garden or garden visits to the highlands are not on the cards, try scoping out gardens or parks in your area and take walks every now and then. You will find that such a simple activity does wonders to your body, mind and soul. 


boiled chick peas


healthy snack

Talking about calories these days, I’m proud to say that I have lost some weight. Weighing 53.5 kg, my aim is to maintain it. Boy it is a challenge. I must say, a lot comes from being conscious of what goes into my body and having self-restraint. My goal is also to lower my cholesterol level by year end when I have my annual check up. 

I used to treat myself to unhealthy food especially on Fridays after work, to mark the start of the weekends. I’d sink my teeth into chips or juicy Big Mac. I had to have cheese in my sandwiches. Mind you, they are high calorie cheeses. I ate a lot prawns that contributed to my high cholesterol levels. 

Fast forward, I’m now mindful of what I eat. I do crave for sinful food at times, but I’m able to manage my cravings. These days, I’d prefer to have small, light food portions and feel full easily. I cringe at the sight and taste of sugary food and my taste buds have low tolerance for food containing high salt content. How does all that happen? Well, I would taking food with low sugar and salt content over a long period of time somewhat trains your taste buds to go for healthy food. 

When I trawl the supermarket aisles, I’d tune in to my radar to look for less guilty snacks. I would get enticed to Pringles and other chips on discount but my mind would go ‘How would you feel when you’ve eaten these?’, ‘What are the side effects?’ blah blah blah. Yes, it takes a lot discipline to go past these tempting snacks. 

I’d substitute Tim Tams for dark chocolate bars (70% -78%) which contain no biscuits and low sugar content, chips with corn cake crisps and hummus dips and other high salt content snacks like sweet potato crisps with boiled chickpeas and edamame beans. My taste buds cannot take milk chocolate now that I’ve substituted my cravings for chocs with plain dark choc bars or buttons. 

So, I will be going for a weekend escape to Bowral today and have packed boiled chickpeas and edamame beans for my road trip to the Highlands. 

boiled chick peas

How to Soak Chickpeas

how to soak chickpeas

I buy raw chickpeas in packets from the local supermarket and empty one packet in a big bowl. Soaking the chick peas overnight will ensure that less boiling needs to be done the next day so that the chick peas are soft enough to chew on. You will notice that the water level will reduce as you soak the chic peas for some minutes. Pour away the water and replace it with fresh water to re-soak. This is drain away the starch from the chick peas. You will notice that the colour that is drained away is dark amber. Continue to drain the water and replace it about 4 times throughout the day. Leave the chickpeas in water overnight. You will hear crackling sounds coming from the chick peas and that’s common. 

Boiling Chickpeas

Drain away the water one last time and fill a sauce pan containing chick peas with fresh water. As you drain the water away, the colour is noticeably light yellow. Pour a tea spoon of sea salt into the water and mix through. I use sea salt as it is known to be healthier than table salt as the latter has additive in it to prevent clumping. Boil the chickpeas for about 20 minutes, till chickpeas are soft enough to eat.   

For me, munching on chickpeas can be additive. I chew them away guilt free knowing it contains low calories and contains dietary fiber and protein. Chickpeas also control blood sugar levels, increase satiety, improves digestion, helps protect against heart disease and cancer and provides essential vitamins and minerals. 

Boiled chickpeas are easy to prepare and makes a healthy snack for the family. I can go on my road trip and munch on my chickpeas and edamame beans which also contain lots of fiber and protein without guilt. Have a good weekend and I will fill you in on my Bowral trip which includes visiting gardens and parks. What a great way to enjoy spring! 



                                                                                         Source: Gem Select

Today, I’d like to share with you my experiences with larimar crystal. Have you heard of this special crystal? If you have not, I’m not at all surprised. This crystal is a special one that is rare. I have been attracted to this special crystal lately as I have anxiety issues. Carrying the right crystals have helped me to contain my anxiety and stay calm throughout the day. 

On hindsight, I have always been fascinated with crystals and have gradually been collecting crystal pieces for healing and their aesthetic properties. I have collected spheres, hearts, eggs, pendants and rings as well as raw specimens. I know this is crazy but it is an addiction that not only makes me happy but is beneficial metaphysically. I do reap its benefits and I will describe in detail what each of my favourite crystal brings. 

For now, I’d like to talk about larimar and the benefits I receive from wearing this crystal. In order to appreciate this lovely blue crystal, let’s come to understand its origins. 

Origin of larimar

Larimar is a sky blue stone consisting of pectolite. It is found only in a mountainous, inaccessible area in the province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic. 

Interestingly, it is believed that Norman Rilling, a member of the U.S Peace Corps and Miguel Mendez, a Dominican found pieces of Larimar along the beach. They were puzzled as these pieces were not ordinary stones. It was hypothesized that the stones were washed up by the waves from elsewhere. However, the men then followed a river upstream and found more blue stones. Years later, the blue stones were traced to its source – in the depths of a dead volcano. The name of the stone was concocted by Mendez. It was a combination of his daughter’s name Larissa and the Spanish word for sea, Mar. Interesting huh?

It is now known that larimar is produced by volcanic movement, when hot gases push crystallized minerals up through volcanic vents. Through the process of soil erosion, some pieces broke off near the crater of the dead volcano and were washed by rainfall. They got deposited into the river and got washed by waves when the river reached its mouth. Such stones then got deposited along the beach. 

In order to mine and extract larimar, the miners must first identify the vent and dig deep, as deep as 300m into the old volcano. During the cyclone season, mining halts for the time being. Larimar for that reason, is found in small quantities and can be expensive. Local miners sustain their living from mining for these precious stone and make a better income than previously despite the risk that their job entail. For that reason, I’m thankful for their contribution to crystal collectors and those in need of healing, like myself.    


Larimar is said to enhance communication. It is beneficial to those who use their voice in their career such as teachers and singers. It strengthens the voice and soothes the nerves. It also makes one more connected with nature. 

larimar pendant

My experience 

I wore a larimar pendent yesterday and on hindsight it draws me towards nature. Here is my story. So long story short, I took a trip up the Blue Mountains yesterday. I’ve been wanting to travel to the mountains by train but have procrastinated. It took 2 hours for the train to wind its way to Katoomba, a small mountain town. 

I had breakfast and coffee when I arrived there as I was famished after the long trip. I was disappointed as the cafes I wanted to visit were closed that day. Anyway, after breakfast, I decided to window shop. I hopped into book shops and curio stores and left the shops disinterested. I then made my way to a vintage emporium. I was bored within minutes. Across the road, was Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books that sold knick knacks and second hand books. I stepped in, expected to be enthralled. This store has numerous good reviews on Tripadvisor. However, I ambled along its alleyways of vintage collection, clothes and books feeling dis-spirited. 


I then decided to hop onto the train and alight at Leura, a stop away. Leura is a quaint village known for its eclectic shops. Shop after shop I walked into. I browsed products on sale without interest. I guess I wasn’t entertained by crass commercialism.  I then walked out of the village after having a second cup of coffee for the day and not so fantastic banana cake. 

Bygone Beauties

Low and behold. My feelings gradually changed. I felt lighter when I saw cherry blossoms and other flowering plants along the road, flanked by quaint houses. I then unwittingly made my way to Bygone Beauties, a curio chop and cafe I’ve been to years ago that is known for its Devonshire tea and tea pot collection.  

Bygone Beauties


Bygone Beauties


Tea Pot from Bygone Beautys

I was gobsmacked. I spent about half and hour marveling at the tea set collection over the ages and from various continents. The shop layout has changed. It now has a museum corner displaying all sorts of tea pots and tea-related paraphernalia. It was amazing. When I finally stepped outside, I took in deep breaths of the fresh mountain air and the soaked in the colourful sights of flowers. I was drawn by nature. I believed that was the effect of larimar. It draws one to nature and a sense of wonder .I felt happier being amidst the trees and colourful flowering plants. That was the highlight of my day. Looking back, I wish I could see more of the mountain views and the cascades that snake their way through its lush vegetation. 

Time did not permit. Alas, I had to take the train home and jostle with the commuters.  

To determine if a crystal works for you, observe your feelings and their triggers throughout the day and record them. Identify any consistencies or disparities when using or not using them. That way, you’ll know if the crystal works for you. 

Have you got similar experiences with larimar? I’m more than happy to read about your take on it.