Lost in the Jungle 

Sitting here right now, typing this I am surrounded by coconut trees, monkeys peering through the branches and the sun casting shadows on the magical mountainside. Lombok, Indonesia, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Unlike the chaos of Bali, it seems more authentic and tied closely to the culture of this country. A close friend of mine, Tara, lives in the jungles of Kerandangan. Her incredible house sits on the side of the mountain, overlooking the array of greenery and ocean. 


My intentions when coming here was to spend time with my friend, and then head to Ubud a few days at a yoga retreat. Well those plans changed and my current experience is one where the powers of the universe have come into play. 

Tara isn’t vegan, however she is incredibly healthy and nourishes her body, while training for duathlons and marathons in Indonesia and Australia. We used to be gym buddies when I first started my fitness journey. In true Tara and Holly style, we ate smoothie bowls until they came out of our ears and devoured raw treats when we spent the day on Gilli T (an island off of the coast of Lombok). She booked us in for a vegan cooking class around the corner from her house. Both of us were so excited and keen to learn more recipes.  Upon arrive we met Dani and from there my life took a drastic turn.

Dani emitted this radiant energy, unlike anything I have seen before. She explained the reason why we shouldn’t be vegan (of course I need no persuading!) and then she delved into her specialty ….. Ayurveda. 


Nor Tara or myself had heard of this holistic therapy and way of life but we were intrigued when Dani broke down the theory behind Ayurveda. She explained her role as a Ayurvedic therapist and the successes she has had with thousands of patients over the years. She immediately read my body language and identified many issues I was having, both physically and mentally. From there I was hooked onto every word. Tara gave me that look that every good friend gives and she said that I need this. I was so hesitant and nervous. I am not one to be spontaneous and change plans on a whim but I thought at the time that maybe this was a sign, I needed to do this for myself.

So, here I am now, 2 days into my treatment. I cancelled my place at the yoga retreat in Ubud and am staying in Lombok, in the jungle, slowly healing years of pain, heart ache and physical damage. Like Dani said, it is not until I cleanse my body inside that I can achieve clarity in my mind and heart. 

What have the treatments involved? Well, first of all Dani read my pulse and identified the toxins within my body. She could tell that I have parasites in my colon and that my liver is struggling (perhaps years of excessive drinking…oops). 2 days of treatment has involved extensive scalp massages, detox baths, full body massages and full body scrubs using oils and creams, recipes of which being thousands of years old. I have also been cooked cleansing vegan meals and poured countless cups of herbal teas and detox drinks. 


After one day my skin is glowing! I have plenty of energy and the stresses of regular life seem petty in some ways. I feel less bloated and refreshed. This is the re-boot my body has desperately needed. I will check in at the end of the 5 days of treatment and update the results! 

Matcha Chia Seed Pudding

After a morning of Body Combat, coffee with my mum, a relaxing facial and grocery shopping, I decided to make a yummy Saturday treat. Behold, my matcha chia seed pudding!

Not only are these tiny seeds a fantastic source of omega 3, they are very versatile and can be used in so many dishes. Chia seed pudding is my go-to sweet delight. Quick and simple to make, with so many flavour combos! Matcha is a basically a powder of concentrated green tea leaves. It has a distinct flavour and isn’t for everyone but I am absolutely obsessed with it. Matcha powder can be expensive but I managed to buy a few packets when I was in Thailand. You can find it in most health food shops or Asian supermarkets. Make sure to find one that isn’t mixed with sugar or other unnecessary ingredients.

chia seed 2

The fruit took centre stage in this shot!

 

You will need :

-1/2 cup of chia seeds (I used a black and white mix but any will do)

-1 cup of plant based milk

-2 tsp of matcha powder

-1 tsp of stevia or an alternate sweetener

-1/2 punnet of strawberries

-1/2 an apple

chia seed 1

Method: 

  1. Mix the chia seeds, matcha and stevia together with a spoon. Pour in the milk and stir until everything is mixed together.
  2.  Set in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the pudding again. If it is too thick, then add more milk. If it is too runny, then add more chia seeds. Leave in the fridge for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could prepare this the night before and have it for brekkie the next morning.
  4. Slice strawberries in half length ways and cut the apple into thin slices.
  5. Arrange the chia pudding which ever way you like. I like to create layers with the chia seed mix and the fruit. You can make it simple or be as creative and insta worthy as you like.
  6. Find a sunny spot, lay back and enjoy this healthy treat.

The Forever Approach – Dr Kat and Body Confidence

I have been MIA lately, in fact 2 months out of action on the blog. So much has been going on, from recovering from extensive surgery to taking over a Year 6 class at my old school here in Perth. It has been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least but over the recent long weekend I experienced an event that was life changing.

Dr Kat is dubbed the Oprah of body confidence and oh my gosh does she live up to that title. The Canadian sweetheart first came to my attention when she was featured on a Jungle Body insta page. I first met in her person when she ran a short session at a pilates studio in South Perth. She shared her raw and relatable story with her issues with eating disorders and body confidence. Dr Kat did not hold back and she made me feel normal! That I wasn’t the only one who was suffering.

dr kat

So, after that short session I enrolled in her Body Confidence retreat which ran for 2 days at Perth Zoo. Nervously, I walked into the conference room to be greeted by a wall of flowers, goodie bags and a comforting hug from Dr Kat. Immediately I felt at ease and began to chat to the other women at my table. Over the next 2 days I was challenged to question why I repeat certain behaviours when it comes to controlling the types of food I eat and how I approach exercise. We delved deep into our ‘whys’ and were able to ‘fart’ the issues and aches we felt in our hearts to those around us. Dr Kat is real, authentic and so caring. She isn’t selling a product or a quick fix. The aim is to change our mind set to one where we appreciate our bodies and follow the 7 pillars to help us become healthy, inside and out.

Was it confronting? Yes.

Was it a struggle? Yes.

To be honest, when I came home after the first day I broke down and felt even worse about myself. It has taken a couple of weeks, but I am slowly processing what I learned over those intense two days and am making small changes to my life.

I feel as women we can be so hard on ourselves and put so much pressure to fit into the what society deems as ‘acceptable’. We need to be kinder to each other but most of all to ourselves. For more information go to Dr Kat’s website.

Thank you Dr Kat xx

dr kat 1

My personalised reflection journal

dr kat yoga

The beautiful women I had the pleasure of meeting at the retreat. We did a yoga session with the elephants!! What a treat.

 

 

‘Treat yo self’ vegan cupcakes

Easter is the best excuse to take a little break from  the clean eating routine and indulge in yummy treats. It’s all about balance y’all and as the famous Parks and Rec quote goes, ‘Treat yo self’. These vegan vanilla cupcakes are sweet, indulgent and very addictive. Treat yo self Easter 2017.

cupcake 1

This recipe will make around 20 medium sized cupcakes so if you want to make a smaller batch then halve the measurement of ingredients.

Dry Ingredients

-3 cups of flour (I used plain whole meal flour)

-2 cups of stevia (you can use regular granulated sugar or another alternative)

-2 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

-1 ¾ cups of almond milk (or other plant based milk)

-1 cup of canola oil

-1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

-1 tbsp vanilla extract

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan setting)

 

  1. Combine and whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl

 

  1. Combine and whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl

 

  1. Slowly whisk wet mixture into the dry mixture bowl. The consistency should be smooth with no lumps. Be careful not to over mix though!

 

  1. Pour the cake mixture into cupcake patties ¾ of the way up.

 

  1. Place into the oven and check after 20 minutes. Use a skewer or sharp knife to pierce a cupcake to ensure that it is fully baked. If it comes out wet then leave the cupcakes in for a few more minutes.

 

  1. Once cooked, remove and place on a cooling rack.

 

  1. You can leave the cupcakes ‘naked’ or if you’re feeling really indulgent then decorate with icing and other bits. Woolworths sell a vegan pre-mad icing mix which is what I’ve used or you can make your own version. I also grated dark chocolate on top, which I bought in Aldi. Dairy free and delicious!

 

cupcake 2

Mandurah (Western Australia)

Flics

Upon return to beautiful WA I have been staying in the quiet coastal town (well technically city) of Mandurah, an hours drive south of Perth. A few years ago vegan options here were as rare as a unicorn but alas with the vegan trend sweeping through Perth it has also trickled down to Mandurah.

Flics is a busy, trendy cafe on the foreshore, overlooking the estuary. The menu caters for all with a detailed drinks list and variety of breakfast lunch and dinner meals.

I went with my omni parents who are, like most of their Irish bred generation, used to their comfort foods and afraid to try the unfamiliar. They settled with a safe yet well cooked eggs benedict.

Being the ‘vegan’, Mum was concerned there wouldn’t be anything for me but alas she had nothing to worry about! The vegan brekkie option was tempting although I opted for the less filling coconut yogurt pot.

flics

At the base was home made coconut yogurt, followed by crunchy granola, fresh pineapple, scatterings of blueberries and on top was a scoop of mouth watering mango sorbet. Each flavour in the pot worked together. Savouring each bite I enjoyed the crunch of the granola and the smooth sweetness of the yogurt.

Visually pleasing and filling (4/5)

Raw Nutty Cheezcake

Anyone who knows me is aware of my obsession with nut butters. It has gone so far that I even have to get my friends and family to hide it from me if it’s in the house! Zero self control. There are special occasions when I blow out completely and my belated birthday celebration was one of these. Hence, my decision to make a scrumptious raw nutty cheezcake.

The recipe today requires a variety of ingredients. Some are quite pricey to buy however the savvy consumer in me always looks for bargains and specials in store. I went to my local whole sale grocer (Spud Shed for fellow Perth readers) and scoured the health food isles of chain grocers (Coles and Woolworths in Australia).

17021412_1323300637709063_305209248445647216_n

Base Ingredients

-1/2 cup of medjool dates

-1 cup of organic unsalted peanuts (you could also use cashews)

-1 tbsp maple syrup

– 1/2 tsp cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Cheezcake filling Ingredients

-1 ½ cups of soaked cashews (soak in a container of water overnight)

-4 tbsp maple syrup

-3 tbsp coconut oil (melted if solid)

-3 tbsp organic peanut butter or other nut butter of your choice

-1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Nutty Bark (topping) Ingredients

-1/2 cup of soaked cashews

-3 soaked medjool dates

-1/4 cup of almond milk or other plant based milk alternative

-2 tbsp coconut oil (melted if solid)

 

Method:

  1. Blend all of the base ingredients. I did this in a Ninja blender, however a food processor might easier. You can make the consistency as rough or smooth as you like. I liked having chunks of peanuts in my base.
  2. Grease a loaf tin or small round cake tin with coconut oil.
  3. Press the mixture into the tin and keep in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  4. Drain the soaking cashews and place in the blender.
  5. Add the other filling ingredients. It is that simple! Blend until it is a smooth consistency. No one likes a lumpy cheezcake.
  6. Pour the filling on top of the base mix. Place in the fridge and try not to dip your finger into the tasty mixture! Lick the spoon though.
  7. The ‘nutty bark’ is an added extra and isn’t necessary for the cake but it does add a wow factor to the completed dessert.
  8. Blend the ingredients together.
  9. Grease a shallow tray or container. Pour the mixture in and place in the freezer until it is solid (about an hour should be perfect!).
  10. When you are ready to plate up the cake take the bark out of the freezer. Cut into small triangular shapes and arrange on top of the cake.
  11. I find the cheezcake keeps well in the fridge or freezer, although it never lasts long in my house! I always find myself in my Nigella inspired moments, sneaking another bite at midnight.

 

cheexcake

Barcelona

A few weeks ago a girlfriend found cheap flights to Barcelona for the weekend so in true wanderer fashion we clicked confirm sale straight away and started to plan our Spanish adventure.

When I imagine Barcelona I don’t think about the beaches, bowls of paella, sun kissed cheeks or adoring football fans. I think about the La Boqueria food markets and the rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables on offer. Like a kid in a candy shop, my eyes lit up at the amazing fruity delights. Pink dragon fruit, exotic star fruit, juicy mangoes, sweet plums and never ending punnets of berries. I had no qualms spending 20 euros on a bag full of fruit.

thumb_img_3923_1024

How can you not love these colours!?

With my friends being meat eaters we compromised that I would find a vegan restaurant for one of the nights. After searching through many options I came across Teresa Carles. Although not a fully vegan restaurant I still had many options to choose from. I started off with mushrooms in a thick gravy with potatoes. Nothing over special or unique but tasty non the less. We then shared a few different cakes, each taking their own spin on classic flavours.

The brunch venue was a show stopper! On Sunday morning we left our hostel famished and ready for a wholesome meal to get us through the journey home. After much research (thank you Google!) I found Brunch and Cake. The rave reviews grabbed my attention, as well as the promise of a few vegan options. The line was winding around the corner and upon arrival we were welcomed with the promise of a 40 minute wait. Through some intervention of some kind we managed to grab a table within 5 minutes (maybe because we didn’t mind squeezing three of us into a 2 person booth).

After much deliberation and pondering I decided up on the acai bowl. I don’t say this often but it was the BEST ACAI BOWL I have EVER had! On top of the blended acai and banana mix was a combo of fresh strawberries, banana slices, passionfruit, apples, kiwi and their homemade peanut granola. It was a dining experience I never wanted to end. Along with my meal I chose the blueberry smoothie which was mixed with coconut and other complimentary fruits. A unique twist I enjoyed was the layer of chia pudding at the base of the glass. Each of their smoothie options have a chia pudding which is flavoured to add to the fruits in the smoothie. Mine was mango.

10/10 for a weekend trip of delicious food!

 

London Feasts – Borough Markets

My final weekend living in London brought me to the Mecca of food stalls in the city; Borough Markets. Here you can find a plethora of delicious gourmet vegan treats hidden amongst the abundance of animal based products. If you spend some time searching the many stalls you can be pleased to find handmade Turkish delight in an assortment of flavours (all vegan!), baked goods and much more.

My nose and hungry eyes led me towards a sign stating Vegan Burgers and I joined the winding line straight away without hesitation. The buzz of excitement in that line was encapsulating and affirmed even more the positive vegan movement that is taking over this side of the world.

london-burger

 

 

The menu had chickpea burgers, seitan pulled BBQ ‘pork’ burgers and even a breakfast ‘sausage’ option. I went for the old faithful burger with cheese. The patty contained buckwheat, mushrooms and other ingredients to add to the mouth watering experience. Crammed in the seeded bun was also fresh salad and veganaise. I savoured every delicious bite.

Although my stomach was bursting at the seams, I still managed to eye off some vegan oat date slices on the way through the stalls. How can you say no!?

London Feasts – Black Cat ; Hackney

London is quickly becoming a vegan paradise in this part of the world. Independent eateries are popping up everywhere with hordes of excited vegans and others wanting to try new creations. The very first vegan fried chicken shop has even opened up and the line of eager customers winding around the corner strongly indicates their rapid success.

The demand is high and many cafes and restaurants are catering to all. One cafe in particular has been high on my list since I moved to London. Black Cat in Hackney is one of the most well known and popular vegan eateries in East London. Not only do they offer a range of delicious drinks, salads, comforting warm dishes and tasty desserts, they also have vegan products that can be purchased here as well.

My friend and I arrived on a hazy, dull typical Saturday afternoon to discover the cafe buzzing with energy. Once we were lucky enough to grab a table we soon decided what to order. The menu offered a simple range of choices, each one suiting a variety of taste buds.

I immediately eyed off the falafel salad bowl, which at only £7 was a bargain. What arrived was a bowl filled to the brim with a variety of fresh salads (green salad, quinoa, coleslaw and red cabbage), a generous dollop of humus, 3 large, crispy falafel balls AND 2 huge pieces of flat bread.

thumb_IMG_4124_1024.jpg

Even MORE salad underneath the flat bread.

My friend (a meat eater but lover of all types of food) ordered the Mexican bowl. This arrived with generous servings of different salads (similar to my dish), two large pieces of toasted sourdough and toppings of Mexican beans and zesty guacamole. Every mouth full was savoured as the flavours all complimented each other.

thumb_IMG_4122_1024.jpg

Mexican Bowl – generous and hearty serving. Almost could be shared between two (if you want to share that is!).

Although my stomach was bursting with joy and I was ready for a little food nap, my friend and I let our eyes take control of ourselves yet again.. and we somehow wandered towards the cake display. The plethora of vegan sweets amazed me; croissants, cookies, chocolates and a range of cakes. We settled on the bounty cake and blueberry chocolate cake, which we savoured with a pot of peppermint tea.

thumb_img_4125_1024

The bounty cake and blueberry chocolate cake. 

For only £12 for a main meal, tea AND dessert I left with a happy wallet, full belly and content spirit. Well worth the visit!