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Happy holidays!

. Posted in Lifestyle

Money can’t buy you happiness… but investing in holidays and experiences is a totally different matter!

Book that weekend away

Studies have found blood pressure, pulse and stress hormones are reduced after just two days on holidays!

Sweet dreams

Travel is good for your sleep patterns – even after the holiday is over! Travelers get three times more of the good, deep sleep after their holidays.

Holiday performance

People who take regular holidays deal better with stress, improve their job performance and are more creative than those hanging around the office.

Give your heart a break

An annual vacation can cut your risk of heart attack by 50 percent!

Holiday romance

Couples who travel together are significantly more satisfied with their relationships, enjoying better sex and improved romance long after the trip is over.

 
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Vivaciously motivated: Adele’s inspiring plant based adventure

. Posted in Lifestyle

Adele McConnell...

From: Melbourne
Career: Enlightening author and founder of VegieHead.com – an online community with scrumptious plant-based recipes aimed to empower people in the kitchen – and in life. Mentors clients across the world with her Recipe for Life sessions.
In the spotlight: Her book “The Vegan Cookbook. Feed Your Soul, Taste the Love: 100 of the Best Vegan Recipes” is being released globally from March 2014 PLUS the upcoming launch of Vegie Head Academy, the world’s first plant-based online cooking course.

 

As told to Ingerlise Svaleng

The blogosphere is filled with tales of perfect lives that aim to inspire, but end up doing the opposite. But there are others too – amazing stories of people who when they open the door to reveal their real self, their passions and dreams, they inspire the rest of us to shed our layers and do what we were always meant to do: become the best version of ourselves. ADELE MCCONNNELL, creator of the Vegie Head community, is one of these people.

When Adele became a vegetarian at 16, she found herself subject of stereotypes and bullying. Now, her Vegie Head site has hundred thousands of monthly visits and a global book launch underway. We met to talk about life, adventures, passion and flourishing in – and out – of the kitchen.

 

We love your non-judgmental approach to veganism. Most of us are our own worst critics… How do you apply that approach to yourself and life?

Thank you! I believe that is the way to approach every situation. No one wants to be judged for their choices, so why should we judge others? It is hard to take the non-judgmental approach, especially when it comes to how we look (only we see our ‘flaws’), however what we speak about, we bring

about. So why focus on the bad? Why judge?

 

After doing Vegie Head on the side of a fulltime job for three years, you’re now self-employed. What was it like taking the step to work fulltime for yourself?

Petrifying, empowering and the best thing I ever did. I had an amazing job before I became self-employed, so I was very lucky and they supported my decision. I’ve had a few moments of fear, where ice has gripped my heart and stopped my breath (where will I get enough money this month?!) but if that old feeling pops up, I surrender to it, and let it go. I mostly ask myself ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?!’

 

…And now, you have a book about to hit newsstands in 40 countries. Time to spill the beans!

It’s so exciting! I was approached by a senior editor of a publishing house in late 2012, and completed the book in March 2013. It’s been a really long process, eye-opening, and a lot of work! It’s called ‘The Vegan Cookbook’ and will be available everywhere late March 2014.

 

I hear rumors you’re also working on an online academy?

Yes! When I first started exploring veganism, I had no idea how to find the right information without feeling suffocated by rigid moral views. I had to teach myself. And I would have loved to have a truly compassionate teacher, gently guiding me through the process. Now, I see that it was my life purpose to become that teacher that I missed so much. The Vegie Head Academy is a course for people who crave the knowledge and practical skills required for a plant-based diet. Because life is already complex, I designed the course to replace a sometimes negative charge around what you eat and why.

 

What do you love the most about being in the kitchen? Have you always loved it?

I haven’t always loved it! It wasn’t until I moved out of home that I really began to enjoy it. I love the opportunity to create something delicious out of a bunch of ingredients, and choose the food that will fuel me for hours to come.

 

What’s your favourite word?

Creation. Our lives are our creation. Create the best one you can.

Adele’s blog opens the door to reveal her real self, her passions and dreams – and in the process inspireS the rest of us to do what we’ve always meant to: become the best version of ourselves.


 < Adele: vivacious and thoughtful, playful and spiritual.

 

For those of us struggling to get a flow in the kitchen, what’s your advice?

Finding your power is akin to finding your passion in the kitchen. In my workshops, I convey my love for food and cooking so much that sometimes that’s the only inspiration people need. Often people who struggle to cook could be blocked in a number of ways – from the way they view food, to a bad experience they’ve had with their own cooking. I teach people to start small, experiment, and be open to making mistakes. I teach them how to listen to their intuition. They already have all of the knowledge inside of them that they know. It’s just about listening to it. This is what guides me in the kitchen.

 

You’ve become an icon followed by thousands of people across the world. How does it feel?

Surreal and completely humbling. It’s a beautiful thing to be looked up to, and asked for my opinion and advice. I am truly grateful to be able to do what I love every day.

 

… And who do you look up to?

A few years back, I was the Victorian Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day. As a part of that, I contacted Joe Cross, from ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ who flew out from LA to Melbourne to join me on the day where we screened his documentary. Joe is definitely a man on a mission, and I consider him to be an amazing influence, trailblazing health.

 

If I say passion, you say….

Food. I truly believe the two go hand in hand. People can be taught food, but to have a real passion for it, that’s a very personal thing.

 

Talking about passions, I have to ask about your two cute furry friends at home. What do you love the most about having dogs?

The way they have taught me patience and unconditional love, as well as providing us with SO much happiness, is the best thing ever! We can’t imagine our life without them now.

 

That leads me to my next question. What does happiness mean to you?

Being happy with yourself and finding the happiness in every situation. We choose our happiness. We can create any life we want to, and I refuse to live a mediocre existence. I fill my days with things that light me up, make me happy, things I love to do. I know that not everyone can work a job they love – but up until July 2013 I was still working a day job! So on nights and weekends, I worked on my business which gave me so much joy (still does!) and the drive to keep going. When we are on the right wavelength with ourselves, we attract exactly what we need and it’s always perfect. So in your current situation – whatever it may be – is exactly what you need right now. What lessons can you learn? What can you change? What do you love about where you are in life? Learn to see the good, and more good will come.

Many of us get trapped by too many “shoulds” and “musts”. How do you avoid letting “shoulds” get in the way of your happiness?

I remind myself that we are exactly where we need to be, right now. The only ‘should’ in life, is that we ‘should’ choose to be happy and healthy!

 

I agree! Now, time to get girly… You always look amazing! And that lipstick…! Can you share some of your beauty routines with us?

Thank you! I am a trained Beauty Therapist, and specialized in antiaging skin treatments. I personally cleanse and moisturize with coconut oil morning and night, give myself regular facial massages and facials at home (I have some videos on my website) and choose to put the most natural products on my skin. I love mineral make up and I’m currently creating a line of organic red lipsticks. It’s quite a process!

 

You’re one of the busiest persons I know – yet you shine so strong! What’s your secret?

I make my health a number one priority. I walk the dogs twice a day for about an hour in the morning and an hour at night, I meditate and eat a lot! I’m releasing a program in the coming weeks that will have all of my secrets – food, life and love!

 

What about your online life with Instagram, Facebook, your blog, Twitter and more… Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the digital world?

Absolutely! I switch off everyday while I’m working and make it a rule that I’m not online for more than an hour at a time…Which can go really fast when you have thousands of notifications to wade through. I do have an amazing team that assists me though.

 

With such a busy day, how do you switch off and unwind at night?

I have a bath every night. I light candles, pop some crystals in the water, and use Sacred Self oils (Peace, Divine and Goddess are my faves!) to help me relax. Then I close the door and listen to either a meditation or some music. I meditate before bed as well, and often in the morning. I truly believe that it has shifted my mindset and my health. I love to read, and journal, and often find that sense of peace when I’m cooking and photographing (as long as I don’t have to clean up afterwards!).

 

What does meditation mean to you?

Sitting, breathing and just letting it all go. I have an amazing meditation teacher, Sara from The Space in Between, who has taught me that meditation is really whatever it’s meant to be. People have an image of someone sitting, cross legged, “Ohm’ing” but for me, that’s the last thing I do. I lay down to meditate. Sometimes I fall asleep, but I don’t let myself get caught up in what meditation “should” be. For me, anytime I spend simply breathing is a good time.

You’re a very spiritual person, and I have to thank you for doing an animal reading for me a few months ago. What else have you been exploring this year?

I completed my Reiki training this year, so I’m really just perfecting the gifts I already had – which we all have – and relying on my intuition to make decisions in my life. I use oracle cards a lot, but not the ones with fairies and angels on them (they aren’t my cup of tea!). I like powerful cards that have strong images and intentions set with them. I find power animals fascinating and connect with them very easily.

 

Talking about cards, what’s on your night table right now?

A few different crystals (rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone and blue lace agate), some of my favourite cards, some Calm and Clear bushflower essences and my journal for writing down late night thoughts!

 

Writing can be such a powerful release and help us articulate our dreams… And on that note, let’s talk vision boards!

Oh I LOVE vision boards. I made four in 2013 – one for each season. It’s amazing to look back over them and to see exactly what has happened. Again, where we focus our energy is where it flows, so when you are focused on your vision – no matter what it is, how big it is, how crazy or wild or expensive it is, I believe you can make it happen. We can do anything.

 

And is there anything on your current vision board that you want to share with us?

I’m in the midst of creating my first vision board for 2014. It’s going to have a beautiful picture of the beach on it. Thinking about my vision boards from 2013, they all had a beach on them – and in March, we move to Queensland! It’ll also have a 4WD – I need space for the dogs – and images of the goals I’m going to reach this year.

 

Finally, what’s the best question someone has ever asked you?

It’s also a question I ask myself everyday….’What can I do to serve the world today?’The answer is always perfect.

Bango Tango Breakfast Smoothie

“Luscious and creamy are the best words to describe this smoothie... Perfect for summer mornings!”

1 serving

PREP: 2 mins
BLEND: 1 min
READY IN: 3 mins

2 bananas chopped and frozen
2 mangoes flesh only
2 passionfruits – pulp only
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup ice

METHOD

Blend the ingredients in a mixer for 1 minute until smooth and creamy. Then… enjoy!

Sneaky Green Smoothie

“This is one of my brand new smoothie recipes… and already a summer fav!”

2 Servings

PREP: 2 mins
BLEND: 5 mins
READY IN: 7 mins

600 ml Natural Raw C Coconut Water
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp power super foods Raw Cacao Powder
1 tbsp MicrOrganics green Super foods powder

METHOD

Blend until smooth and serve immediately

 

Vegie Head Chocolate Butter

“Mmmmmm. Why opt for commercial brands when you can make your own in fifteen minutes?!”

Makes just over 2 cups

PREP: 5 mins
BLEND/COMBINE: 10 mins
READY OVERNIGHT

1 1/2 cups coconut oil melted gently in a sink of warm water
1/2 cup coconut oil melted as above
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup raw cacao powde2 tsp Maca powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

METHOD

Pour melted coconut oil and butter into a blender, then add sugar and blend until dissolved

Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined

Pour into sterilised jars and allow to set in the fridge overnight, then serve at room temperature

The chocolate butter will last about 3 weeks in the fridge 

 

Hazelnut Chocolate Tart

“This is one of my most popular recipes. Do I really need to say anything else? No… it speaks for itself!”

10 servings (35cm tarts)

PREP: 15 mins
COOK: 10 mins
READY IN: 2 hrs 25 mins

220 g hazelnuts
30 g shredded coconut
40 g raw cacao powder
50 g raw coconut sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil 
pinch salt
1x 240 ml can coconut cream 280 g dark chocolate chopped fresh berries to serve

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180.C

Lightly grease your tart pan with coconut oil and set aside

Process hazelnuts and shredded coconut together in a blender until it becomes a fine meal

Add the cacao powder, the coconut sugar, coconut oil and salt, and blitz again until combined

Press into your tart pan and bake for 10-15 minutes; set  aside to cool

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut cream to a gentle simmer, and add broken chocolate

Stir continuously until smooth and velvety and pour into tart pan

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours then top with berries and serve

 

10 Minute Thai-Viet Noodle Bowl

No time to cook?

We challenge you to try this quick & easy bowl of goodness!

Serves 2

1 zucchini, diced
1/2 small eggplant, diced
1⁄2 small sweet potato, cubed
1 cup diced button mushrooms
1 tsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red chilli, sliced finely (optional)
2 cups boiling water
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chilli sauce (optional)
210g dry udon noodles
Fresh mint and coriander
Bean shoots to serve

METHOD

In a medium sized saucepan, add the zucchini, eggplant, sweet potato, mushrooms, ginger, garlic and chilli. Top with the boiling water and bring to a high simmer. Add the tomatoes, chilli sauce and udon noodles, stirring, and bring to a boil.

Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes or until sweet potato is fork tender and noodles are cooked. The noodles will release a ‘starch’ to create a thicker sauce.

Add salt if needed, top with mint, coriander and fresh bean shoots.

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If you’re going to San Francisco…

. Posted in Lifestyle

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Here are 10 things not to miss!
1. Feel small next to a Muir Wood tree. Most of the redwood trees are between 500 and 800 years old, and at 79 meters tall you can’t even see where it ends! 
2. Indulge your senses at the museum, grown up style. Music, creatures and cocktails come together in a mix you can’t miss at California Academy of Sciences’ weekly Nightlife at the Academy.
3. Jump on the cable cars. Say no more. 
4. Eat (at) Greens. The New York Times named Greens “the restaurant that brought vegetarian food out from health food stores and established it as cuisine”. It still proves why.
5. Get some exercise. Cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, a pristinely beautiful seashore area where the rugged trails of Mount Tamalpias meet funky houseboats and trendy restaurants. Added bonus: picture-perfect views back to the city skyline!
6. Celebrate all things organic. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is renowned throughout the US as one of the top farmers markets – and we can see why.
7. Throw away your city map, jump on a bike, and see where you end up.
8. Go crazy over the genius Farm-to-Bar concept, where local bartenders incorporate a touch of fresh produce from a local farm into their signature drinks. Mmmm.
9. Find a treasure. The Treasure Island Flea Marketplace is a scoop for repurposed and up-cycled goods, shabby chic and French garden pieces, emerging designers, art, specialty food and much, much more.
10. Fall in love with Sonoma’s bohemian vibe and 170 intimate wineries.


TIP! Too much sightseeing?
Treat yourself to a visit to one of the most luxurious places in the city, the Nob Hill Spa in The Huntington Hotel. Indulge in a quiet start to the day at the spa; whisk away any stress in the zen room with some organic herbal tea and a magazine; or better yet, book in for a massage with one of the spa therapists. Five letters: b-l-i-s-s.


Where to stay? Why not pick your bed based on your favourite TV show!
You love: True Blood
You’ll love: The Nobb Hill Hotel
True Blood fans will adore the quirky décor of this historic building. First established in 1906, the Nob Hill Hotel brings you back to the era of alabaster chandeliers, ornate ceilings, Victorian antiques and velvet beddings. Retreating to our burgundy painted room, a knock on the door from Alexander Skarsgård was the only thing missing from my True Blood fantasy. Budget tip: Don’t miss the free wine & cheese tastings between 5.30 and 7.30 daily. www.nobhillhotel.com 835 Hyde Street San Francisco. 

You love: Mad Men
You’ll love: The Huntington Hotel
If Mad Men is more your style, look no further than The Huntington Hotel. This San Francisco institution will make you want to forget about the city and simply take in the atmosphere in the oversized luxurious rooms, or even better, the fireplace bar where live piano tunes make you feel like the real life Donald Draper. And just like in Mad Men, this is a hotel with a history of strong women! In the 50s, Eugene Fritz gave the hotel to his teenage daughter Dorothy. She was one of the first women in America to own and manage a hotel, and what a job she did! Today, the hotel’s Big 4 Restaurant is celebrated as one of the best dining rooms in America. Sipping a smoky red wine at the candlelit bar, surrounded by the rich and the famous, is a moment that stays with you long after you’ve returned from your holiday. www.huntingtonhotel.com 1075 California Street San Francisco.

You love: The Office
You’ll love: The Mosser
Looking for functionality and space efficiency? Without further introduction, The Mosser is like the Ikea of hotels: Functional, smart and simple. www.themosser.com 54 Fourth Street, San Francisco.

We love... SF Airport! The new T2 is every traveller’s dream; a relaxing yoga room (!), express spa, Napa Farm Market and chilled out wine bars. Yes, you read that right – with the genius Farm to Flight concept you can stock up on beautiful local and organic produce right there in the airport.

 

 

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The big (green) apple

. Posted in Lifestyle

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New York – the city that never sleeps. So how do you make sure you stay awake and alert to enjoy every moment of your Big Apple experience? Naturally Australia went on a tasty mission to uncover how to refuel your body (and soul) while exploring NY.

1. Sun In Bloom, Park Slope
You’ll feel like a true local at this beautiful organic, vegan and raw food eatery. Founder Aimee Follette’s mission is to nourish the community with food for (happy) thought – and that’s reason enough to visit! All the food is made from scratch in their kosher kitchen, and if you’re in town for more than a few days, why not try the Sun In Bloom’s 3 or 5-Day Organic Juice Cleanse? 460 Bergen Street, Brooklyn http://suninbloom.wordpress.com/ 

2. Cinnamon Snail Food Truck
Who would have thought that one of the best organic places in NY comes on four wheels? Since Valentine’s Day 2010, The Cinnamon Snail Food Truck has been serving NYC vegan goodies – and it’s true bliss. The menu is seasonal, but if you can, try the Ticket in Crimes Square Raw Salad with sage and dulse walnuts, fresh figs, arugula, kale and French mustard dressing. Visit their website for locations and times. wwww.cinnamonsnail.com


Naturally loves…
It’s nearly impossible to select a NY favourite, but if you only have time to visit one place, look no further than the beautiful Blossom in Chelsea. Because long after you’ve returned home, this is the place you dream back to… remembering not only the organic sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, jicama, carrots, tamari-toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with ginger teriyaki dressing, but also the beautiful setting in an old townhouse with waiters that made you feel like a long lost friend. Thank you, Alisha Myrden! 187 Ninth Avenue, Chelsea www.blossomnyc.com


 3. Candle 79
If you’re looking for a bit of NY lux, this is it. Candle 79 is a two-floor fine dining oasis with vegan, organic cuisine – and its very own stylish organic wine and sake bar. This is organic with a sophisticated twist, and what a twist it is! Don’t miss the ecococktails – try “Reforestation” with VeeV Açai spirit, wheatgrass infused Crop vodka, muddled mint, ginger-agave, lime, soda and ice. And why not go for a second and make an environmental difference at the same time? For every Reforestation cocktail ordered, a tree is planted in your honor! 154 East 79th Street at Lexington Avenue, www.candle79.com

 4. Dirt Candy
One of the few Michelin-recommended vegetarian restaurants, this is a candy you don’t want to miss. Think Portobello mousse, truffled toast pear & fennel compote… enough said! 430 East 9th Street, between Ave. A and First Ave. www.dirtcandynyc.com/ 

 5. Pure Food & Wine
What superlatives should we use to describe NY’s first upscale raw vegan restaurant? All of them! The entire menu is plant-based with no processed ingredients, and even meat eaters will fall in love with the scrumptious creative and seasonal dishes. Don’t believe me? Just order the Cauliflower and Sweet Corn Polenta with Bourbon Maple Peaches and Radicchio, served with cherry tomatoes, purslane, candied pistachios, cashew cheese, and avocado pistachio vinaigrette… Yes, that’s what I thought! 54 Irving Place (between 17th and 18th Streets) www.purefoodandwine.com

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Naturally loves… Pura vida, surf style

. Posted in Lifestyle


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Far away from the gringo trail, the sleepy surf village of Nosara lives and breathes with the tide of the Pacific Ocean. Time doesn’t matter. The tide does. Leave your watch at home, slow down and get ready for pura vida, surf style.

Just as we could spot the Pacific Ocean through the forest in the Guanacaste province on the far northern part of Costa Rica, our four-wheel drive came to a sudden halt. As the yellow dust from the road settled enough for us to see what was going on, the driver turned around and smiled. “Un momento”, he said and pointed at the snake that slowly made its way across the road. A few days later we understood just how typical this was for Nosara, where animal life has been protected for more than 30 years. The monkey-filled trees are protected by their stature as national parks and the local community are dedicated to harmonizing development with nature conservation. The result is a thriving yet sleepy community of like-minded people living the ocean-green dream in harmony with nature. Or as the locals say themselves: Pura Vida, surf style.

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Lessons from a whistling duck
To soak up the best of Nosara without disturbing the gentle balance between tourism and nature, we headed to Harmony on Playa Guiones. This eco-wellness resort is all about surf and yoga culture, including a deep connection to nature and others. As proof, the wellness oasis boasts a five-leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainability Tourism with solar panels, local staff, a greenhouse and farm for the kitchen, raw food composts, not to mention native plants that provide shelter for local animals. In this eco-luxurious environment, even the pool was designed to care. Stepping out into the ironfiltered oasis, the water felt thicker than normal. It caressed the skin gently, nourishing it as we cooled off in the shaded depths. Opening my eyes underwater as I swam the length, the colour was intense emerald. Maybe that’s what attracted an unusual visitor? Every afternoon during our visit, a whistling duck stepped out from nowhere, strolling over to the pool and with the elegance and ownership of a true diva, slinked into the water. The saying “like water off a duck’s back” came to mind as I watched droplets of water slide gracefully from its back. I took it as a sign – and a challenge – to let unwarranted worries slide off my back just as the droplets sliding off that worry-free duck. As Chi Kung Master Stig Hanson had told us weeks earlier, it’s our responsibility to control what we take in and not. The mind – which the Chinese monks call “muddled water”– easily latches onto criticism, negativity and uncertainties. But would I be any  better off ruminating about the future and letting it get in the way of what was here, right now? Watching the water droplets continue to slide, I decided that there was no place better than Harmony to embrace the concept and learn the difference between useful or deteriorating thoughts. I wasn’t the only person grappling questions like this. Harmony seemed to be full of people taking steps to mindfully lead the life that was right for them – and the sense of community and harmony made it impossible to embrace anything but the real version of yourself. At the emerald pool, new friendships were formed over stories of morning surfs and yoga insights, while locals and yoga students sipped green smoothies and snacked on raw basil brownies at the Juice Bar.


3 ways to get all Harmony’ed
DRINK
The mint and pineapple spritzer – all locally grown
EAT
The raw ginger and basil brownie at the Juice Bar
RELAX
Gaze into the deep jungle as the sounds of geckos and birds punctuate the silence at the open-air yoga studio at The Harmony Healing Centre. Want an after-yoga pamper session? Watch the therapists prepare an all-natural skin treatment with local fruits and plants right in front of you, making this a skin treatment that’s so good you could – and can – eat it!

Plan your next holiday! www.harmonynosara.com


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Surf’s up!
During our three days in Nosara, the biggest and strongest swell in months built along the coast. The beach transformed from playful to thrilling to terrifying, and as the swell built, so did after-surf chats at the pool, of those either ripping it up or being ripped to pieces. I belonged to the last category, so the next day we headed 30 minutes by car down the coast to the protected bay of Samara. The normally gentle beginners beach was pumping with six feet waves crashing right on the shore. In the background “The Blender” reef break demonstrated how it got its name. I quickly swapped my board for a sunbed, and lazily watched my boyfriend join the locals on the ‘fast rides’ from the safety of the soft sand. I felt the sun on my skin, the breeze in my hair, and as I took a deep breath to let the sea air fill my lungs, I realized this was it. Pura vida, surf style.


Playtime!
Nosara is a heaven for an active holiday. Surfers and yogis flock here to indulge in nature, and you can also fill your days with horseback riding on the beach, visiting the Lagarta Lodge Nature Reserve or taking on a river-safari. Gaze at nature’s wonders at a Ostional Sea Turtle Excursion, go on a sustainable coffee tour in Hojancha or zipline through the canopy.


 Did you know... National Geographic has named Nosara one of the world’s top twenty surf towns