Whenever I bake, I tend to make things as healthy as possible. I'm usually subbing this and that out for their wholefoodie alternatives, adding things like mashed banana, raw cacao powder, maple syrup... you know the go. Often this works, sometimes it just doesn't, and then sometimes you just have to throw all of that out the window and bake some real. damn. cookies. This is one of those times. These are vanilla-y, choc chunk studded, buttery, sugary babies, ripe for dunking, chewing and crunching. I used a roughly chopped up vego bar (ugh life, so good) which I got from Sprout Market, but feel free to use any type of chocolate you like. 
What you need:

3/4 cup vegan butter like nuttelex, room temperature
1/2 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean powder, or pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1 tblsp flax + 3 tbslp water)
1 3/4 cups brown rice flour (I got mine from Sprout Market)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Vego bar or dark chocolate, roughly chopped

What you need to do:

Cream the butter and sugar together. I did this by hand, but if you'd prefer to use a cake mixer then go ahead. Add the flax egg and vanilla, and mix very well. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix until combined, then add the chocolate and stir together. Scoop mounds/balls of dough onto two separate baking sheets (again, I just rolled them by hand, but feel free to use a cookie scoop) and pop into the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius during the last 10-15 minutes of the dough being in the freezer, and bake for approx 18 minutes. They'll still seem soft when you first take them out of the oven, but once they cool they harden, so be careful not to overcook them.

Naturally, I've seen copious posts of the amazing Sarah B's life changing loaf of bread floating around the internet for a couple of years now. It's so popular, everyone's on it, it's everywhere, clearly I'm late to jump on this seedy chewy wholesome tasty bready train. But I'm on it baby, here I am.

In her original recipe blog post, Sarah emphasised how easy it is to play around with the ingredients and amounts that you use; so long as you're keeping the general ingredient gist/dry to wet ingredient ratio relatively the same, you pretty much can't go wrong. And I'm never one to follow a recipe to the last word anyway, so I knew this would be my kinda baked good. I left out the nuts that feature in the original recipe, instead choosing to add pumpkin seeds (I love my pepitas just a little bit), and I also decided to reduce the overall amount of seeds in exchange for extra oats, as a way of lightening the loaf up a little bit. This was the first time I've ever used psyllium husk but now I'm a total convert because WOw that chewy texture that it gives to the bread is next level. Finally, I added a little less oil and a little more maple syrup, because why not and yum and it's still very much a savoury loaf but I always enjoy a subtle undertone of sweetness. Enjoy!

What you need:

1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of pepitas
1/4 cup of ground flax
2 tblsp of chia seeds
2 cups of rolled oats
3 tblsp of psyllium husks
1 tsp of sea salt
1.5 tblsp of maple syrup
1.5 tblsp of olive oil
1.5 cups of water (plus a little extra)

What you need to do:

First up, I blitzed the sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a grinder/processor just to chop them up roughly. You don't want them to end up a meal, but just chopped up nicely. In a bowl, mix the sunflower and pumpkin seeds (I also added an extra small handful of each of them post-blitzing), ground flax, chia seeds, oats, psyllium, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, mix the maple syrup, oil and water. Add the wet to the dry and mix well until all the liquid has been absorbed and the dough becomes thick. You may want to add a little extra water if it seems too thick (I added probably an extra couple of tablespoons) (although it is meant to be pretty thick so don't go too crazy). Pop into a loaf pan, push down on the dough until it's pretty set in, and leave aside for at least 2-3 hours, or even overnight. This is so the chia/flax/psyllium can all do their thing and set and bind nicely.

Preheat your oven to 180 celcius. Pop into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove from the pan (you may need to stick a knife around the edges and knock it on a bench a few times) (otherwise a flexible silicon pan is always a good idea). Flip the loaf upside down and place it straight on the rack and bake for another 35-40 minutes. Let it cool completely before slicing up!

I made this divine hazelnut torte last week for my boyfriend's sister's birthday dinner. It went down an absolute treat (proclaimed to be the best-thing-I've-ever-made by the boy) and I'm already plotting when I can bake another one up. I ground up whole raw hazelnuts into a meal using a little coffee grinder that we have at home which worked amazingly, so no stress if you're unable to source hazelnut meal! I'm also sure you could easily sub almond meal instead of hazelnut, however that classic hazelnutty flavour is what I love most about this slightly chewy, dense but fluffy (seriously, I can't explain it) cake. I topped mine with toasted hazelnuts and grated raw chocolate for a little nutella-esque goodness. So so perfect for dessert, or with a cuppa; let me know if you make it!

3/4 of a cup of hazelnut meal (or about 1/2 cup of whole hazelnuts ground into a meal)
1 cup of brown rice flour
1 cup of mylk of choice (I used rice)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of maple syrup
2/3 cup of coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp of baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius, and grease a cake tin or slice pan (the torte doesn't rise too much; it's something between a cake and a slice). Mix the hazelnut meal, brown rice flour, coconut sugar and baking powder together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the mylk, olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Add the wet to the dry, mix well. Pour into your cake tin or slice pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes.

It's now a little over a month ago that we arrived home from our travels around India and then Bali... How did that happen? I always do this thing where I'm like "on this day a month ago I had just arrived home", "on this day three months ago we had just arrived in India", "on this day a year ago..." blah blah blah. Do you guys do that too? I love reminiscing and thinking about where I was at certain points in time; sometimes I worry that it means I'm living in the past too much, but I think mostly it's great because it reminds me of how I was feeling and what I was thinking at a certain point in time, it reminds me of my growth and my experiences and, if I'm feeling stuck with where I'm currently at, it lifts me up and gives my mind a shake up and perspective shift.

On this day six weeks ago, Louis and I were in the paradise of Karma Jimbaran. Jimbaran is on the coast of Bali and is a tiny, little, quiet beachside town. Bali was quite a whirlwind for me, in a different way to India, but Jimbaran was the first place we went to that was exactly what I had hoped for from Bali; peaceful, quiet, blissed out. Staying at the divine Karma resort helped a little (read: a lot).

Karma are a luxury resort group with locations all over the world, and Karma Jimbaran is just one of them. From the moment we arrived and made our way up the driveway I was like, wowowowoowwoeeeeeow. What. A. Beautiful. Place. Just the two of us, Louis and I, spent two nights in one of their phenomenal, lush private pool villas, which meant we had the most glorious master bedroom, the biggest bath tub, the best kitchen (I'm all about being able to cook up a storm whilst travelling!), the most comfortable open plan living and lounge area, which all looked out upon our very own private pool, complete with divine frangipani trees and pool lounge chairs, and even our own bloody koi fish pond.

Having a private pool has multiple perks: going for swims literally whenever you want, getting to take photos in and around the pool without people looking at you like you're a noodle, night swims, and getting to go for skinny dips. Of course. We would begin our days with a breakfast of fresh fruit, tea, juices, smoothies and toast, and follow it with jumping between our pool and wandering down to the beach just down the road. Karma also had a really well equipped little gym which I jumped on, because I really missed being able to go for runs whilst we were travelling! We'd then wrap our days up by cooking up a storm in our beautiful kitchen and perching ourselves out with our feet dangling in the pool. Perfection.

Here's just a few photos of our beautiful villa at Karma Jimbaran!

This is my favourite ever green smoothie; so sweet and SO good for you and super easy to throw together. This recipe is taken from my recipe ebook Eat Plants Drink Mylk, and if you want more goodies like this, there's 30+ more plant based recipes waitin' for you in there.

What you need:

3 frozen bananas
1 cup of frozen mango (or fresh, if you have it!)
1 big heaping handful of baby spinach
1/2 cup of rice milk
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of maca powder (optional)

What you need to do:

Let the bananas and mango thaw for a minute or two before blending (unless your blender is A+). Simply blend all the ingredients together until super smooth. Drink, rejoice, etc. Serves 1-2.
My beautiful friend Alex posted on her instagram this morning with a caption which really stopped me in my tracks, and I'm sure stopped a fair few others in theirs too.

The caption was "I haven't really been posting a lot of food lately and the very simple reason for that is that I just haven't been thinking about food all that much. I've always loved cooking and have genuinely enjoyed taking photos of what I've been eating to show you guys over the last couple of years but lately I just haven't cared about that part of my life. It's summer, most days I go to work and head straight to the beach afterwards and don't get home until maybe 8pm where I'll have a super quick dinner and then chase the sunset or go for a bike ride or maybe do something crafty. I've been using food to fuel these things but it just hasn't been a main event for a while now.

"This is probably just a phase and it has a lot to do with my desire to spend every possible second in the sun so I'm sure my passion for cooking and food presentation will return in the gloomier months but for the time being, this feels amazing. I honestly can't tell you guys how freeing it is to feel this way. I obsessed over food for such a long time. It was the only thing I thought of for years... In developing a healthy relationship with food, the negativity went away but it was still something I focused on each day. I focused on eating enough and of all the right things and it wasn't an obsession but it still took a lot of time and energy. Being a little more indifferent to it and eating to live instead of living to eat makes me feel so normal and truly solidifies the healthy relationship with food that I now have. I never thought I would feel this way. It's nice."

Reading this stopped me in my tracks because of how much it resonated with me, how much it reminded me of how far I've come, and how much it reminded me of exactly where I want to be. Reading this also came in conjunction with my mum telling me about a statistic she read not too long ago: apparently only about 30% of eating disorder sufferers recover completely and fully. That's about 70% who spend the rest of their lives stuck in some kind of negative cycle and in some kind of negative relationship with food, with their bodies, with themselves. Reading the post also came in conjunction with a lot of recent musings that I've had about control; how we as humans so often struggle with the need to be in full control of our lives, and in an ever changing, ever-growing, fast-paced world, actually achieving that control is pretty hopeless. I think, as a result, so many of us seek out smaller facets of our lives, more manageable things, that we actually can control – like food. Of course, seeking control is almost aways to our own detriment, and we'd be far better off using our energy to teach ourselves how to relinquish control and be flexible with change and find actually effective ways of dealing with our anxiety...

I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder and hesitate to say that I suffered from one, but there was a period about 5 years ago where my attitude to food and to my body was disordered. Fresh out of school, the world at my fingertips (so they said), at the start of my university years ...And I was lost, sad, confused, unsure, indecisive and felt very, very out of control. Food quickly became something that I could control, something which helped me deal with the anxiety of such an unsure time, something which helped me deal with my inability to find my feet. I highly do not recommend this method of coping, by the way, it is very not effective and very backwards. Instead of gaining control over my life, I simply gained control over my food, which left me with no time, energy or desire for anything else.

I was stuck in an obsessive rut for a while and was left with an unhealthy mental state, an unhealthy relationship with myself, and an anxiety-fuelled relationship with food. The scary thing is, as so many of us know, it was so easy to get myself into that place, and it was so damn hard to get back out. In the amazing book I'm currently reading (called Ayurveda and the Mind: the Healing of Consciousness) the author speaks of the ego self and the role it plays in the negative conditioning of our minds. He says, "our psychological problems develop in the outer mind as we try to find happiness as a physical creature or ego-self... They leave memories like scars in the inner mind" and these scars work as grooves, memory grooves in our mind, which we constantly return to. It is so damn hard to get out of those unhealthy, controlling coping mechanisms because it becomes a groove in our memory, a groove in our mind, which our minds automatically return to as a habit, and this then continues to deepen the groove. Basically, habits are habits for a reason; because we've worked them so thoroughly into the landscape of our minds. So how do we break out of these habits, out of these mindsets, out of this striving for control?

We form new habits. This takes time, this takes energy, this takes strength. But it is worth it, and it is achievable. We find new, more effective ways to deal with anxiety and with feeling out of control. I'm still on this journey, but I know for a fact that in order to form new habits, we often have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, we have to push ourselves into new experiences and routines, we have to develop awareness around our negative thought patterns, and we have to develop effective ways of counteracting those thought patterns.

In recent years, the healthiest I have ever felt have been the times when I have paid the least amount of attention to what is going into my body. Of course whatever I consume is always vegan, but just as Alex said in her post, using food to fuel your life, fuel your creativity, fuel your activity is incredibly freeing, as opposed to obsessing about what is in your meal, how healthy your meal is, how healthy your day has been. If you're focusing on eating super duper wholesome, beautifully presented food all the time, that's a lot of time and energy that you're not spending on other stuff. Like creative ventures, social outings, adventures, books, intellectual challenges. Health is not a kale salad, it's so much more than that, and if this obsession with health that has sprung up in recent times has done anything, it's that it has held us all back from true health.

Recently whilst travelling around India for two months, I felt amazing. On so many levels I felt free, liberated, strong, independent, inspired, and comfortable within the world. Often food was out of my control, because when you're travelling you eat what you can, wherever you can, when you can; food was fuel for this whirlwind of an adventure. And with this mindset, I had endless energy for everything else that was going on around me. Often we get stuck working in the negative memory grooves in our minds, and so many of us never get ourselves our of that. A lot of us. About 70% of us. And that devastates me. The amount of energy I've wasted, the amount of time I've wasted, the amount of potential I've deserted often devastates me. But I know what freedom from that tastes like, I know what feeling that freedom is, and whenever I feel my mind attempting to run its wheels back into those grooves of old habits and control, I draw strength from the experiences and knowledge that I've gained along the way to pull myself onwards and outwards.

After so many years of focusing on my physical health, on glorifying the importance of physical health, mental health is my focus this year. May we learn the art of letting go, may we learn the art of self-love, may we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into our potential for creativity and growth.
We hopped back on the fast boat from Gili back to the mainland and headed to Canggu in time for New Year. We found a gorgeous villa on AirBnB which was pretty cheap, within walking distance of a bunch of great cafes and the beach, and had an amazing pool. Time flew by in Canggu; we spent about a week there, going to amazing cafes, walking and swimming the days away. On New Year's Eve, while there were many NYE parties going down at all the beach clubs, we decided a nice meal, some wine and a chill night was the go, including watching the copious amount of fireworks being set off by local kids all night.

Next up, we headed down the coast to Jimbaran, a beautiful and quiet beachside town, where we were lucky enough to stay at the amazing Karma Kandara Resort. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger towns and cities in Bali was perfection; we basically spent our time here hopping between our pool and the beach just down the road. More of this in a future blog post.

Our final stop in Bali was the amazing, isolated little cliffside village of Bingin. Bingin was a hidden gem, an unexpected slice of paradise, and exactly what I'd hoped for from Bali. We stayed at The Sun and Surf Stay, which is an adorable little B&B right on the beach at the bottom of a cliff (yep, a lot of stairs were involved) made up of converted little surf shacks. This was the ultimate chill out place; beach, sun, surf, sand, sunsets from the hammock on our balcony, and there was even a veggie/vegan restaurant no more than 10 metres away with the perfect sunset viewing balcony to perch on (Swami's Stay and Cafe, in case you're interested). Bingin is also super close to Uluwatu if you're after another surf break, or an amazing Nalu Bowl (get the Uluwatu Bowl, holy moly I dream of it).

And that's Indonesia! And our travels! But I'm already dreaming of our next adventures, so stay tuned...

I'm sure there are a million blog posts about vegan eats in Ubud floating around the internet. You know why? Because there are about a million vegan eats in Ubud. Ripe for the pickin', spoiled for choice. But regardless, here's another guide to vegan eats in Ubud, because I love food and you love food and we all love great food, so let's just roll with it.

Kismet Restaurant and Lounge

My favourite restaurant in Ubud, easily. The serving sizes were generous, the food was fresh, and the flavours were amazing. My absolute favourite thing to get was the Dragon Bowl with tempeh skewers; red rice, greens, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, roast pumpkin, roasted mushrooms and capsicum, with a lemongrass tahini dressing. The tempeh skewers were honestly the best tempeh I've ever had, ever. We also had the Asian Bowl, which was so fresh, made up of red rice, greens, veges, avocado, nori, sesame, kim chi and other goodness, and we opted for the satay seitan skewers. The rice paper rolls were filled to the brim with marinated rice noodles, tofu and fresh veggies, and came with a delicious peanut sauce. All so good. The wait staff were attentive and warm, constantly topping up our water glasses with delicious cucumber infused water, and the general atmosphere of Kismet is relaxed and classy. We came here for my birthday/Christmas dinner as they also serve cocktails and wine, and it was such a wonderful evening. Go, go, go, get the dragon bowl with tempeh skewers, go.
The Elephant

Another favourite in Ubud, we loved the vibes here. We had a delicious lunch starting with the best rice paper rolls that we found in Ubud which were filled with rice noodles, crumbled marinated tofu and raw veggies, served with chilli sauce and peanut sauce, both delicious. I had the white tiger bowl which was a big veggie filled bowl with tempeh, roast pumpkin, greens, fresh veg, and a tahini dressing. Louis had the Japanese bowl, also veggie filled deliciousness with tofu and nori etc. We also had an iced sencha green tea (so refreshing in the Bali humidity) and an iced coffee on cashew milk; yum! We came back a couple of times, and spent a fair amount time lounging around in their egg chair, soaking up the fresh air, the good music playlist, and the beautiful green view. On other trips we also had a hibiscus iced tea which was tart and refreshing, and the tofu larb (fresh, crunchy, tofu goodness), and a good old fashioned long black coffee.
Puspa's Warung

Cheap and cheerful, this is a classic Indonesian warung with a beautiful homemade touch. Puspa is right there in the kitchen next to you whipping up your lunch, proudly offering vegan options for any menu item, serving up red rice, and only using coconut oil in her cooking. The serving sizes are quite small (for a big eater like myself), but the prices are so low that you can always go for seconds, or get a couple of extra rice on the side. We had the vegan nasi campur which came with an amazing jackfruit rendang, corn fritters, tempeh, and other delicious things, plus the vegan curry, a coconut milk based yellow curry with veggies, tofu and tempeh. We also had fresh coconuts that were larger than our head.
Seeds of Life

We went here a few times for cool drinks, to escape the humidity. The green juice was so good, slow-pressed and very healthy good for you green vibes delicious. The smoothies were cold, thick and sweet; a big tick in my book, because there is nothing worse than a warm or watery smoothie and I've come across far too many in my travels. We did decide to order a smoothie bowl one day which was exceptionally underwhelming, just a smoothie in a bowl with literally (I swear I'm not even exaggerating) a teaspoon of raw granola on top. In saying that, some of the raw wraps and bowls I saw coming out looked good.


An Ubud institution that everyone has raved about as a must-go for as long as I can remember... A little underwhelming? Maybe it was all the hype? We had some tasty smoothies (banana, spinach, pineapple) which were flavoursome, cool and refreshing, as well as a choose-your-own smoothie bowl and a salad bowl. For the smoothie bowl, we chose a papaya banana smoothie, plus the standard fruit toppings, granola (which was yum and crunchy), chia seed pudding (which was really liquidy) and coconut flakes. It was sweet, the fruit was high quality, the toppings were good (minus the chia seed pudd), but what is with warm smoothies??? Not down with it. Our salad was also yum and fresh, with greens, a raw pad thai, a raw Indonesian-inspired zoodle-y type salad, tomato, and marinated veggies. Good flavours, fresh, very healthy... I don't know you guys, am I missing something here??? Why was I so underwhelmed?
Earth Cafe

Another well-known cafe in Ubud which I'd had on my go-to list for a while, which ended up being quite expensive for what it is and a little underwhelming. The nori rolls were delicious and cured my sushi cravings, but five dollars for sushi??? The nasi goreng was nice enough but a small serving size (Louis had to buy some tofu gado gado from a little warung across the street afterwards to supplement). They do have a make-your-own salad option, where you fill out a sheet and tick all the things you want and choose your dressing which was awesome, super fresh, and definitely one of the best things about Earth Cafe. Louis ordered the acai bowl one day and it was warm and watery and flavourless, which was pretty disappointing. Earth Cafe is good if you're after a simple, relatively unassuming meal but definitely didn't live up to the hype!
So there you have it! My true and honest opinion of vegan Ubud eats. There are plenty more cafes and warungs that I wanted to try but didn't make it to; if you have anywhere that you loved in Ubud, let me know!
We kind of spontaneously decided to go home from India via Indonesia, because why not, right? So we left India a couple of weeks earlier than our original plan and hopped on a plane over to Bali. Bali was definitely a change of pace from India, one which came as both a relief and a strange emptiness all at once. India's charismatic chaos is one that you settle into (a sink or swim kind of situation), a life of dodging traffic, turning down eager tuk tuk drivers, finding the cheapest dosas in town, and avoiding being roped into buying something from the bloke on the street's friend's brother's shop. One that I had begun to thrive in, awake and energetic. Bali slowed us right back down.

We began in Ubud, where we stayed a couple of nights in the beautiful Puri Gangga Resort (which I've written about) followed by a week in a great Air BnB called Bhuana Shanti Cottages, overlooking rice paddies and run by the loveliest of people. It was here that we celebrated Christmas and my twenty-third birthday, sharing gifts on our balcony, sipping on pitaya smoothies, day tripping to the phenomenal Tegenungan waterfall, and sipping wine and feasting on the tastiest food. The days all seemed to melt into one another in Ubud, filled with so many vegan cafes and restaurants, rice paddy trips, multiple waterfall swims, and of course the odd Balinese massage or two.

Following Ubud, we hopped on the fast boat to Gili Meno, a tiny little island close to Lombok, so small that you can walk around the circumference of the island in not much more than an hour. From one side of the island you can see across to Gili Trawangan (the bigger, busier, party island), and from the other side you can see across to Gili Air and further across to the heavenly volcanic mountains of Lombok. Of the three Gilis, Meno is the quietest and least developed, with dodgy wifi, sea water showers, traditional little bungalows, and no cars or motorbikes whatsoever. The snorkelling is amazing, a whirlwind of rainbow fish in amongst the pure blue water, vivid blue starfish, quirky coral, but the best of all is that the surrounding reefs are home to a collection of sea turtles. We only spent three nights on Gili Meno; the food was a bit stodgy there, and to be honest, a small tropical island isn't my idea of heaven (is that weird?) and I need my surroundings to be a little more wild to make my soul happy. To be continued...