Recipe: Cacao maca smoothie

Confession time: despite being Peruvian, I don’t like maca. I do try to get some in my diet because it’s meant to help with hormonal balance, but I have to find ways to disguise its flavour. I’ve been making a smoothie mix with the dry ingredients listed below, which I multiply 3 or 4 times and store them in a jar, making it easy to chuck in the blender in the morning.

Smoothie mix, coconut milk, avocado

I’ve used avocado and/or coconut milk for thickness and fat content. I don’t use any sweetener (IMO you don’t need any if using coconut milk, anyway) but that might be overkill for you, so go ahead and add your sweetener of choice.

Cacao maca smoothie
Yield: 1 serving

Cacao maca smoothie


Dry ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder
  • 1 tablespoon collagen hydrolysate
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon greens powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla powder or essence

Wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/2 avocado or 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • optional sweetener, to taste


  1. Mix in a blender until smooth.

recipe, chocolate, cacao, maca, smoothie, avocado, breakfast

Product review: Campos dark city coldpress coffee

Cold drip/cold brewed coffee is my new thing. I enjoy the smooth taste and less acidic character, compared to long blacks. Last time I was in Campos I noticed they had bottled coldpress coffee in black and milk varieties ($5). I haven’t tried the milk one but the black is pretty good. It is bit less diluted than others I’ve tried, so you can add some ice without watering it too much.

Campos cold press

I think you can only buy the bottles in their cafes, but will keep an eye out in case they start selling the online.

Campos Newtown
193 Missenden Road
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9516 3361

Campos Coffee on Urbanspoon

Food for thought: Karmic inflammation

I just came back from a hill sprint session in Sydney Park. After 108 repetitions of a physical meditation that involves the whole body (knees included). After 2 days in a row of training, including back squats both days. There’s no way I could have done that when I was younger.

Paul McCarthy - SydneyPark (cropped)

I started having knee pain when I was a child. My detail-oriented mum noticed that I would get it every time I had tonsillitis, which happened a few times per year in the beginning and once every few weeks until I had my tonsils removed. Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t fix the knee pain, because the inflammation was still there. It became chronic and the pain got more intense over time to the point that some nights I would lay in bed crying, unable to sleep (and I’m not a crier).

My family had a few theories of what caused my pain. Some said it was me throwing myself on the ground and landing on my knees when I was a kid. But how could that become a bigger problem later on if I did it a handful of times when I was very young? Some said it was the taekwondo. But I only did it for a few years in my mid-late 20s.

In my opinion, what was the root of my inflammatory problems was my diet. I did a big change from a Westernised diet to a healthier diet (by conventional wisdom standards) in my mid 20s, which helped tackle some digestion issues and improve my body composition, but didn’t help with inflammation. Reflux got worse, knee pain got worse. It wasn’t until I removed the pro-inflammatory stuff out of my diet that my symptoms disappeared.

I’m not saying that everyone should eat what I eat, but I think it’s sensible to give it a shot. I’m not saying that diet is the only underlying cause of inflammation, but it’s quite possible that what you consistently choose to put in your body can have a big impact in your health. The cause and effect relationship might be difficult to see because your everyday behaviour is habitual, but it adds up. Small consistent habits of the past have shaped your present. It’s like karma. It is karma.

Finally, why hill sprints? Running on grass and uphill are great ways to reduce the load on the joints (see items #13 and 15 here). Additionally, the uneven terrain forces your body out of its comfort zone (learn more about this here).

Review: Pavel and Co (Sydney CBD)

I found out about Pavel and Co via my boss, who used to get his coffee there. But what really grabbed my interest was Raff’s review of the food. Particularly the word “crackling”.

The CBD eatery is big and it gets busy. Service is pretty fast, though.

Pavel and Co

There are pretty good hot sauces on every table. I reckon they should invest on fancier salt shakers to match ‘em sauces.

Hot sauces, salt

Liquid caffeine came in the form of a Coke zero for Sebastian and a long black for me, which was sadly not one of my favourite brews in the area.

Coke zero, long black

Coke zero ($?), long black ($3.50)

On the food front, there are three categories: sandwiches, lunch boxes (salad + brown rice + meat), salad (+ optional meat). When you get the salad, you can choose up to 2 different types. I got the crunchy raw beetroot (beetroot, carrot, red onion, parsley, mint, walnuts, fetta) and roasted cauliflower (cauliflower, kale, pickled raisins, pepitas, parsley, mint) and added roasted pork (with crackling!). It was perfect in size and flavour.

Crunchy raw beetroot salad + roasted cauliflower salad + pork

Crunchy raw beetroot/roasted cauliflower salad ($9)
+ pork ($5.90)

Sebastian ordered the Mexican slaw (red cabbage, corn, white cabbage, carrot, red onion, jalapeño, coriander) with grilled salmon. He thought the salad needed more dressing and tanginess.

Mexican slaw + grilled salmon

Mexican slaw ($9) + salmon ($5.90)

I will definitely go back when I need a feed close to work. I’m keen on trying the grass-fed beef and lamb. On that topic, I don’t get why they make an effort in sourcing grass-fed beef and lamb, and yet their pork is grain-fed.

Pavel and Co
1/222 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9146 0716

Pavel & Co on Urbanspoon

Review: Cow and the Moon (Enmore)

No, I’m not one of those people who is willing to queue outside a gelato shop just because they won a “best gelato in the world award” recently. We had been to Cow and the Moon a couple of times, a long time ago, before the queues.


The good news is that they don’t have a gazillion flavours and so service is pretty quick. Especially for me, because you can count the sorbet flavours with the fingers in one hand, and I prefer staying on the dairy-free side of things whenever possible.


I had a small cup with chocolate and apple sorbet. Both pretty good, but very sweet. To be honest I don’t know which chocolate sorbet is my favourite and I’m thinking I’ll have to run a blind test one of these days to find out.

Chocolate sorbet, chocolate + apple sorbet, Mandorla affogato

Left to right: chocolate sorbet, chocolate + apple sorbet, Mandorla affogato

The award winner Mandorla affogato was, from what I heard, worth trying.

Mandorla affogato

Cow and the Moon
181 Enmore Road
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 9557 4255

On Facebook

Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato on Urbanspoon

Review: Campos Coffee cupping session

My great sister gave me a gift voucher for a coffee cupping session in Campos for my birthday. She knows me very well.

I attended the session in my local branch (Newtown). The session is held upstairs, in a dark room with lights directed to the bar table where the magic happens. Each person has in front of them 5 latte glasses with different varieties of ground coffee. Cupping is essentially like wine tasting, only that coffee possesses many more aromatic compounds than wine.

The green beans differ in size depending on the climatic conditions.

Green beans

The session starts with us smelling a commercial “flat” coffee. You can totally tell the difference in complexity with Campos’ specialty coffees.


After smelling, water below boiling point is poured in the glasses and the coffees are left to brew.


A “crust” forms atop the coffee.



When the brewing process is over, we grab a spoon and “break” the “crust”, coming close to the glass in order to capture the smells. Then the experts remove the crust and we’re finally ready for cupping.

Ready for cupping

The actual cupping consists in taking a spoonful of coffee and slurping it vigorously so that it sprays inside your mouth. Not glamourous, I know. You can spit it in the provided paper cup (wine tasting-style) or just drink it. Two glasses of water are provided to rinse the spoon between coffees.


It was interesting to try coffees that differed so much between them. At the end of the session, the varietal and origin were revealed. I wasn’t surprised to learn that my least favourites came from Africa, and my favourites from Latin America. We received a bag of beans of our favourite coffee from the session.

Coffee bags

You can learn more about cupping sessions in Campos’ website (below).

Campos Newtown
193 Missenden Road
Newtown NSW
(02) 9516 3361

Campos Coffee on Urbanspoon

Review: Urban Cat Cafe (Erskineville)

Urban Cat is one of those places with split personalities. They are a regular cafe by day and serve Georgian cuisine by night. Not only that, but the name is totally misleading. Still, it’s a stone’s throw away from home and my housemate had already sent me some interesting pics from a meal he had there. I had to find out for myself.

Urban Cat Cafe

We ordered what he had: Georgian-style fish. The whole deep-fried trout, served with spicy (pickled) onions and a Georgian beetroot and walnut salad, was smaller than expected but juicy and only needed a pinch of salt or two.

Georgian-style fish

Georgian-style fish ($26.50)

Our second main was Les Calamars a la luzienne, a dish influenced by the Basque cuisine. The calamari was perhaps a bit on the chewy side but the flavourful tomato-based sauce was excellent. It would have been great with bread (if we had some paleo-friendly at hand) or mash. Instead, we ordered boiled potatoes with butter. We could have done better on the sides, I think.

Les Calamars a la luzienne

Les Calamars a la luzienne ($22)

Boiled potatoes with butter

Boiled potatoes with butter ($4)

Urban Cat Cafe
106 Erskineville Road
Erskineville NSW 2043
(02) 9557 9448
On Facebook

Urban Cat Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Organica Raw Superfood Bar (Petersham)

Right across the road from The Oxford Tavern sits Organica raw superfood bar. They offer coffee, cold-pressed juices, smoothies and outsourced raw desserts.





Because we were stuffed from a meat fest (see previous post) I didn’t order anything but tried Alvaro’s free radical fighter, with watermelon, lime and mint. Perfect for a very hot day.

Free radical fighter juice

Free radical fighter juice ($8 regular)

Oh… one more thing: don’t order a juice if you’re in a hurry.

109 Crystal Street
Petersham NSW 2049
(02) 9045 4455
On Facebook

Review: The Oxford Tavern (Petersham)

When a friend tells you they’re craving meat, The Oxford Tavern is a great place to go. On weekends from noon they fire up Black Betty (the smoker) for American-style smoked meats, sold by weight.

The Oxford Tavern


We got some beef spare ribs, lamb ribs, pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken. All orders come with coleslaw and soft rolls (not for us).

They charge for weight, this platter for 3 costed about $65 and we had more than enough. I liked everything and would order the exact same thing again. Perhaps special mentions should go to the melt-in-your-mouth beef rib and the tender and juicy chicken. Note: the meats are marinated in BBQ sauce, so they have sugar, nightshades (watch out if you have inflammation issues), and possibly gluten and soy. Having said that, I didn’t have any adverse reactions.


Clockwise from top left: chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket, coleslaw, lamb ribs, beef spare ribs, pork ribs

The Oxford Tavern
1 New Canterbury Road
Petersham NSW 2049
(02) 8019 9351
On Facebook

The Oxford Tavern on Urbanspoon

Food for thought: Eyes on your own plate

I love this advice often given by Liz Wolfe and Diane Sanfilippo in the Balanced Bites podcast. It is very easy to get in the trap of being judgemental about other people’s food choices. It seems this is not constrained to health-conscious people (whatever that means). Everyone has an opinion of what everyone else is eating. If they happen to be eating the exact same meal, then it’s the portion size, whether they mix the components of the meal or not, etc. It’s not easy to let go of this habit but it’s useful to remind yourself to keep your eyes on your own plate, worry (not too much!) about your own food choices and how they affect your health, performance, happiness, etc. The others are adults and are entitled to make their own choices. Also, be polite and refrain from making comments about how disgusting is what other people are eating.

I’m not saying “never ever look at other people’s plates again”. Once again, it all depends on the intention. If you’re following people on social media because their food photos motivate you to eat healthier, inspire you to cook new dishes, or help you find out where’s the best burger in the city, that’s totally fine in my books. But if your intention is plain negative criticism, do yourself a karmic favour and save it for yourself.

PS: As everything else I write on this blog, this post is primarily a reminder to myself.