I admit it... In the past I have been guilty of pre-holiday 'saint hood' followed by a vacation of super indulgence with a side of slothness. Then I would return home and all any promises I had made to get straight back on the healthy eating and exercise wagon seem to be forgotten in a haze of fat, sugar and laziness.
While I'm not quite ready to claim perfection this time around I can see a definite change in my habits. My eating hasn't been exactly on pointe (cut straight to the end of this post for proof!) but I can confidently say that my exercising has remained firmly on track.
Despite getting lost on my first run, I was not deterred and I have headed out as per my usual Sat/Mon/Wed/Thu schedule. I even brought Jillian along with me to make sure I could get some strength training in while I was away from Barrecode. I've actually found that on my less active days - like Rest Day Friday's - I end up feeling pretty amped up and antsy by the time the afternoon rolls around.
My sister, in true older sibling fashion, has been looking out for me and found a great activity she knew I would love (I swear, she must feel like she has three toddlers to entertain having me around). On Wednesday we headed out to the Dandenong Ranges to do the 1,000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk.
The 1,000 Steps Walk is basically what then name implies - a walk consisting of many, many steps that takes you 1.5km (3km return) uphill through beautiful bushland.
Created in the early 1900s the 1000 Steps Walk was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the climb a little easier. These were replaced by wooden palings before the more permanent concrete steps were installed in 1950.
I didn't count but apparently the steps come in a little short of the 1,000 mark. Whatever the case it was a pretty popular little area! The path and picnic areas at the start of the walk were bustling with people– tourists, fitness buffs, families and school groups. The signpost at the start of the walk warned me that the climb was steep with reasonable fitness required and had an estimated completion time of 1.5 hours. Challenge Accepted!!
While my sister stayed at the park near the starting point with LM and LL I set off, water in one hand, iPod in the other. It wasn't long before the combination of the steepness and the rising temperature had me busting out a sweat.
I got sick of trying to pass people on the narrow steps so chose to walk mostly on the gravel road beside. Handy little signposts along the way were king enough to remind me how far I had gone and therefore, how far in still had to go.
It took me thirty sweaty minutes to reach the top of the stairs. From there you had three choices of trails - Up, across or back down. Not keen to keep my sister waiting too long and definitely not looking to bust out more sweaty kilometres going up I decided it was time to head back down.
Going down was obviously a lot easier so I decided to up the intensity a little and jog the 1.5km back to the bottom. Things got a little dicey in some of the steeper sections where I was sure I was going to lose my footing and end up on my bum but I arrived back at the start unscathed.
The 1,000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk is a challenging yet enjoyable hike which is proven by its popularity alone. I saw people of all shapes and sizes out there giving it a go - I even saw two ladies with a toddler (personally I think it may be too hard going for such little legs) I like to think I have slightly higher than average cardio fitness and I finished in just under 45 minutes which included me jogging back down so I think the estimation of 1.5 hours is fair.
My sister was definitely on the money with this one and if you are in the area I would definitely suggest giving the walk a go!
What I don't recommend however, is celebrating your achievement with Choc Chip Cookie Cake. Bahaha, who am I kidding!? Celebrate away!
I took the chance to put a vegan spin on this recipe that I had spied on Pinterest while I had three adults and two hungry toddlers to act as guinea pigs. The substitutions were simple and the results were dangerously delicious!! Like I said, my eating has not been A+ for the last ten days!
This cookie/cake hybrid combines the best of both dessert world. The centre is reminiscent of a moist, fudgey choc chip cookie while still being thick and slicable like a cake. I used rainbow choc chips which just happened to be vegan too! SCORE!
LM and LL referred to this one as 'birthday cake' which I think would be the perfect occasion for making it. The frosting here is completely optional although it is a very tasty addition and with the right piping tip, the frosting as described would be a great consistency for writing whatever special message you wanted on top of your delectable creation!!
Frosted Choc Chip Cookie Cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes (including chilling
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert vegan birthday cake cookie
Ingredients (1 Giant Cookie)
- 3/4 cup vegan spread (I used Nuttelex Lite)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup applesauce (or use apple puree baby food!)
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
- 2tsp corn flour
- 1tsp baking soda
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups vegan choc chips
- 1/4 cup vegan spread (I used Nuttelex Lite)
- 1/4 cup shortening (I used Copha which I melted slightly before creaming)
- 2 cups icing (powdered) sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl cream the sugars and spread for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the applesauce and vanilla.
Add in the flour, corn flour, baking soda and salt. Add in the Choc chips and stir until evenly mixed (remember we are making a cookie cake so the mixture will be quite thick!)
Put the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray a 8 to 9 inch baking tray with spray oil and spread the dough into the tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before then remove from the pan and allow to cool completely before frosting.FROSTING
Beat the shortening and the spread until smooth and creamy.
Add in 1 1/2 cups of the icing sugar in half cup increments beating until well combined.
Add in the vanilla and mix well before adding the last half cup of icing sugar and beating until fluffy. Add in any colouring you want at his point too.
This frosting recipe makes quite a lot and I found that to do the decorating I did I only used about half of this mix but the leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week.
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