Date Caramel Shortbread Squares

It might be because my home has been surrounded for fog for the past week, or that the temperature seems to be lowering down a little more every day, but I do not really feel like cooking savoury meals these days. The sole thing I am looking forward to whenever coming back home is curling up in my sofa, with a warm tea and something to satisfy my sweet tooth (a huge piece of something though!). Thus, my fridge and cupboards are filled with sweet treats and desserts, which I have the pleasure to enjoy by myself since my parents are not really into those…

The sole thing I am looking forward to
whenever coming back home is
curling up in my sofa, with a warm tea
and something to satisfy my sweet tooth

It’s been a week since being back from my short but amazing weekend in London, and apart from the serenity and peace I cultivated away from my home and routine, I brought back some amazing sweets in my luggage. Livia’s Kitchen’s shortbread millionaire bites are simple, natural and delicious snacks that you can bring with you wherever you go and enjoy at any time of the day (that because they are tasty like hell!) – they are made out of a few easy, healthy ingredients and may be found at many different places all across London. But due to a lack of space, I could only bring four bars back, which obviously have already been digested!

Just like a queen wears a crown,
those squares are topped with a cracking,
sweet and incredibly tasty chocolate layer

For these are insanely delicious, I wanted to make them myself, so that I could have a fresh tray in the freezer all year long (seriously!). I therefore created my own recipe for them – they do not taste exactly the same, which is good, but are still achingly luscious! The melting and yet firm bottom layer, with its distant flavour of vanilla, is perfectly balancing the creaminess and sweetness of the date caramel. The latter does not actually taste like dates at all, but more like a whirlwind of caramely and nutty flavours. And just like a queen wears a crown, those squares are topped with a cracking, sweet and incredibly tasty chocolate layer, which help bringing this dessert to another level. Enjoy!

Date Caramel Shortbread Squares

Portions: 20 to 24 squares.
Preparation time: 30 minutes.
Freezing time: one hour.

Ingredients

For the oat base:

125g of ground rolled oats or oat flour
150g of ground almonds
60ml of maple syrup
2 ½ tbsp of coconut oil
1 tsp of vanilla powder or extract
1-2 tbsp of water (if needed)

For the date caramel:

300g of Medjool dates, pitted
4 tbsp of almond butter
2-3 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of coconut oil
½ tsp of vanilla powder

For the chocolate layer:

200g of vegan dark chocolate (70%)
or
85g of coconut oil
55g of cacao powder
4 tbsp of maple syrup
A pinch of salt

Method

(1) Start with the oat layer. Blend the oats in a food processor until obtaining a flour like consistency. Then add the ground almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla powder and water, and pulse until the dough comes together when pressed with the hand. Line a brownie tin with parchment paper and grease it with coconut oil. Press into the tin, form a very fine and compact layer, then freeze for about 30 minutes.

(2) Move on to the date caramel. Pit the dates and blend them in your food processor until obtaining a paste. Then add the other ingredients and blend again, until smooth. You may need to scrap down the sides a few times. Spread onto your base evenly and put it back into the freezer.

(3) If using vegan dark chocolate, melt it slowly in a bain-marie before covering the caramel. If not, start by slowly melting the coconut oil in a bain-marie; then add the other ingredients and stir until glossy and smooth. Quickly pour the chocolate layer onto the date caramel and using the back of a spoon, spread it nicely and evenly, sides included. Back in the freezer for 20 minutes.

(4) Take it out of the freezer 15 to 20 minutes before slicing, to avoid cracking (or not – see pictures!).


Sweet Potato Falafels & Roasted Peppers Quinoa Buddha Bowl

Falafels need to be reinvented, redefined, and remodelled. Even though you may find a few places where they are preparing them in a healthy way, this once healthy food has now become synonym of that greasy junky food people eat because they feel less guilty than eating a burger. Usually eaten in a wrap, I am today offering you another way to enjoy those little balls of happiness: a Buddha Bowl. There is not real definition of what a Buddha Bowl is. What you’ve got to know is that a Buddha Bowl basically is a bowl which you throw a whole lot of goodness in, drizzle some sauce on top and parachute a few seeds or sprouts. Here you are.

I am almost certain you’ll find
something delectable in those

I am not trying to be bold by saying I’ll revolution them. But I am almost certain you’ll find something delectable in those. This amazing recipe transforms the sweet potato in a crispy yet mushy treat, which is not deep fried in very questionable oil but simply baked. It keeps the fat content quite low so that people that are trying to cut on fats a little may still enjoy them. They are super-healthy and you will not even see the difference!

Sweet potatoes have healing properties,
eliminating free radicals from the organism

Just so you know, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (with their high beta-carotene content) and vitamin C. They are powerful anti-oxidants (reducing the severity of inflammations – from asthma to arthritis) and even have healing properties, eliminating free radicals from the organism. Free radicals are chemical substances that damage cells and are usually associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and so on. And guess what? Beta-carotene and vitamin C have both been shown to help fighting those conditions. In a nutshell, eat sweet potato!

Spring Equinox Buddha Bowl

Portions: 4 servings
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the falafels:

4 to 5 sweet potatoes (around 600g), peeled and cut in small bites
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of ground coriander
2 tsp of dry basil
1 tsp of cardamom (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 tbsp of tahini
3 tbsp of chickpea flour (or rye/spelt/etc.)
Salt & pepper
Sesame seeds to coat
500g of quinoa + 1 litre of water + a pinch of salt

For the baked peppers:

3 red bell peppers, rinsed
3 tbsp of olive oil + some to drizzle
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
½ tbsp of soy sauce
Salt & pepper
A few fresh basil leaves, sliced

For the tahini sauce:

3 tbsp of tahini
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
½ tsp of ground cumin
2 tbsp of olive oil
4 – 7 tbsp of water (depending on how thick you want the sauce

To garnish:

Cherry tomatoes
Onion Sprouts
Pomegranate

Method

(1) Preheat your oven to 220°C. Place all the peeled and cut pieces of sweet potato in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer until tender.

(2) In a large mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Add the rest of the falafels ingredients, except the sesame seeds. Once nicely mixed, place in the fridge to firm up for about an hour.

(3) Prepare your quinoa: bring the quinoa, water and salt to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Cover and set aside.

(4) Take the falafel mix out of the fridge, it should be sticky, not wet. Take large spoonfuls of batter and create falafels, rolling them in sesame seeds first and then placing them on a baking tray, covered with parchment paper.

(5) Place them in the oven for about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on whether you like them crispy and on your oven as well. Check them out after 25 minutes though.

(6) While in the oven, prepare the peppers: Slice them in half, core them, and place them on a baking tray, covered with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil on top, salt and pepper, and place in the oven (if the falafels are in the middle, these should go beneath) for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the skin is nice and burnt.

(7) Take the falafels out of the oven and let them cool down. When it’s time for the peppers to come out, either wrap them up in foil or place them in an airtight container for about 20 minutes, so that you can peel them off more easily.

(8) Once peeled, slice them, place in a mixing bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix correctly to coat. Set aside.

(9) Lastly, make the tahini sauce: mix all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. As easy as that!

(10) Place some quinoa in a bowl, add a few falafels, some peppers, cherry tomatoes, spouts, pomegranate and drizzle some tahini sauce on top. Enjoy!


Cashew Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies

Those that have been sticking round with me for a while know how fond I am of winter, its comfort, silence and amazing flavours. Even though I now am on the West Coast of the United States for a little while, it is just as if my soul lingered back in the snowy mountains, smelling those scents of hot cacao, crispy fires, cinnamon cookies and gingerbread mixes. There is nothing like novelty and freshness, adventure and new horizons, but no matter my love for the sun, the sand and all those new discoveries within easy reach, my heart still belongs to my home country, Switzerland, to all those I left, those I love.

Just like there’s no weather
to enjoy a lovely hot cacao,
there is no season to enjoy
gingerbread loafs, cookies or biscuits.

This is when you tell me gingerbread is a Christmas and winter thingy – well, not for me! Just like there’s no weather to enjoy a lovely hot cacao, there is no season to enjoy gingerbread loafs, cookies or biscuits. And those babies are just going to verify this statement.

Delicious tastes of coconut, ginger and cinnamon are merging together and creating this complex flavour that gives those biscuit their originality. Two crunchy and nutty outside layers, surrounding the creamiest and most scrumptious (I adore this word) buttery heart. You’d be better off either eating them at room temperature, removing both biscuits to avoid spilling the cream all over or just out of the fridge, still hard and crunchy. Enjoy!

Cashew Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies

Portions: 18 pieces
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 16 – 18 minutes

Ingredients

For the biscuits:

200g of shredded coconut, reduced in flour
225g of ground almonds (almost as thin as flour)
6 tbsp of spelt flour (or else)
225g/175ml of maple syrup or honey
100g of coconut oil, melted
¼ tsp of vanilla powder
1 ½ tbsp of ginger powder
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of cardamom
¼ tsp of nutmeg
A pinch of salt

For the cream:

4 tbsp/150g of cashew butter
35g of coconut oil, melted
1 tsp of vanilla powder

Method

(1) Preheat the oven to 150°C. Mix the ingredients for the biscuits in a large bowl. Once incorporated, form a ball with the dough, roll into wrapping paper and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

(2) Press the dough down in-between two sheets of parchment paper to prevent it from sticking, on 0.5 cm approximately. With a round cookie cutter (or a champagne glass/regular glass), cut little cookie circles and place on a tray covered with parchment paper.

(3) Do as explained on point 2 until you are out of dough. Place the biscuits in the middle of the oven for about 15 to 16 minutes (check it regularly). They have to be golden-brown and the centre still slightly soft. Set aside to cool down.

(4) Mix all the ingredients for the cream and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Take a biscuit, place a tsp of cream in the centre and cover with another biscuit. Repeat until done with all the biscuits. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.


10 Qualities of Successfully Happy People (+ Tips to develop them)

There are so many different definitions of success, at least as many humans there are on this planet. However, the one that is well-spread the most certainly involves earning money in order to survive. And yet what does it mean to survive? What is the point of living a life you have to survive in? It is quite normal for a person to be unhappy, stressed, anxious & even a little depressed when having to survive! I know that this aching definition and fixity actually comes from our society’s evolution and is now embedded into what seems to be a very tricky web.

Let’s start off all together, by picturing life as a vehicle for blooming and thriving, and with “success” being synonymous of joy, abundance and happiness.

Before reading those lines, I really want you to understand that I am not claiming to have the keys for fabulous success and genuine happiness. After the deep introspection I made for myself as well as analysing people around me, I just want to share with you all the things that seems essential to cultivate to be fulfilled and that I feel like being crucial for others as well…

Therefore, successfully happy people…

See the glass half full and certainly not half empty.

The first key to one’s success and probably the easiest one to obtain is seeing things that one has instead of focusing her attention on what one does not have. That seems a bit odd to say but it truly is magical. Acknowledging that what one’s doing is great, that one has given her best, that there’s nothing to master/do/find/achieve but our personal definition of happiness.

If you ever feel that you’re focusing on the lack, take a step back and rethink the situation. Set your mind on what you have at that point. Your goal is not as important as the process of it – cause there’s no such thing as a mistake but only ways to learn more about ourselves. Focusing on the process and all the life lessons one may gather on the way is at the core of your success. At the end of the day, it will make the difference in your rush to success.

Are always positive, no matter what they’re enduring.

The more you practice the more you’ll realise it to be almost impossible to focus on our day-to-day lives, problems, stressful situations as well as trying to keep our mind steady and focused on the poses. And this is what we want. Staying in a long, hard and very demanding position or on the contrary flowing through the postures, trying to follow instructions, breathe and focus – all at the same time – will help you in facing a whole range of difficult situations.

What I’ve learnt from my illness and what I am successfully applying in a day-to-day basis is to see bad things from the bright side. There’s nothing like taking the best out of sadness or not being crushed after being disappointed. It is hard to consider a seemingly negative situation with a positive mindset – but you’ll learn and function automatically through repetition. It is very hard to stay positive in a world that is full of dreadful events, unhappy and anxious people, and frightening projection of our future world; but I promise you that by taking a step back, lightening up from the inside and brightening the earth with your small but radiant inner light, you will make a difference. Smile is contagious, and so is happiness.

Are open-minded, eager to learn & motivated.

Successful people are open to new ideas; they listen, take inspiration from others and cultivate what we could call their “smartness”. These people really listen to others’ points of view and thoughts, even though they seem not to be sharing them in the first place; they know, deep down, that there’s always something to learn from everybody, no matter their political belief, nationality, age, size or gender. They feel joy achieving something but do not do it because they are afraid of the negative consequences of their inaction. In a nutshell, they are moving towards what they really want instead of running away from what they don’t!

I am not sure how what kind of tip I could give you to develop that…if you’re still unsure about this point, the one that comes to my mind is: “Shake yourself up and move, life is short my friend, and be sure that no matter what, the universe has your back!

Are self-confident & aware of their inner beauty.

This is not to be mixed up with being vain or egocentric, not at all. This is rather about being self-aware, knowing one’s passions, flaws, qualities… Having faith in one’s own capabilities and powers. Once you get there, you’ll see that achieving great things and goals that you’re proud is going to be so much easier and rewarding. And if there’s anyone standing in your way or criticising you, it is not going to matter for you to reach that goal. And remember this: it’s good to be a dreamer, but you got to become a doer!

What really helps from a physical and then mental point of view: Before doing anything that might create anxiety within your mind (an exam, a test, teaching, a date, etc.) Standing tall, with your feet hip-distance apart, arms wide open and chest up and bumped, for about two minutes. Long deep breaths through the nose and the abdomen. Stand in your power and embrace yourself fully. You’ll feel strong, resourceful and confident, ready to kick some asses! Meditation and positive affirmations (repeating the same sentence every day, long enough for your brain to internalise it).

Take good care of what they eat.

This might actually be one of the easiest as well, it is just the first step that’s hard. Integrating a little health in one’s life is such an easy thing, especially nowadays. Start by cutting off junk food and processed sugars but even more importantly, EAT MORE PLANTS! Vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fruits, natural sugars, nuts…the list is endless and full of so much goodness and colours, it would be hard to resist. And you’ll see the changes directly: no digestion caused fatigue, no guilt after some excesses, a whole lot of energy and so much more. I am not saying that my way of eating will make everyone better off, but successful and happy people do not choose their food by default, but rather because they feel good with it and so does their organisms!

Only look back to see how far they went.

What really is important when willing to create that space for happiness and success to happen in one’s life is not to focus on the past. Once able to let things go and not to have any regret whatsoever, working on the present to influence the future is just going to be a piece of cake. Successful people focus on their creation and not on the things that lead to it.

Try to set your mind on your goal, whether this is a skill you want to develop, or a special project you’ve fancied for a long time, focus all your time, energy and thoughts on it and feel what it’s like to get closer from achieving something that is important to you. And remember to embrace the process on your way up there!

Focus on building strong and everlasting relationships.

Successful people know that by binding to others, they will get stronger and reach another level of happiness. There is a certain harmony in the human development that may only be achieved by creating relationships to others; that makes people not only more powerful, but more confident, open, reliable and sparkling, which will lead others to feel comfortable in their presence. And comfort actually is the key to someone’s trust, which could definitely lead to being successful and happy!

Dare to go out, to events, classes, workshops that you’re interested in. Open yourself to others, dare to talk and ask questions, cause the people in front of you might be in the exact same situation where they want to interact but don’t know where to start! There’s no risk in trying to communicate and create bonds with other people.

Challenge their preconceived notions.

I would add to this that they believe in the power of change. People usually stay in the same posture or keep their job/current situation as it is because they are afraid or do not know what else to do. It is those very same people that usually are unhappy in their job. And indeed someone’s work might not be her passion; therefore, she will create space for creativity and imagination, take time to nourish herself from many other things, fight against our society’s stereotypes and ultimately, if brave, after figuring out what she wanted, start creating it.

Change and instability are frightening yes. But you know you are transforming when things start to get uncomfortable. Step out of this comfort zone we are taught to create for ourselves – you don’t want to live a life of danger but nor of idleness. We, as human beings, have a definite number of breaths we can take in the life – make the most out of them.

Focus their attention on the physical and mental health.

For successful and happy people, health actually is their wealth. As our body is the vehicle for life, the envelope that enables us to enjoy the most beautiful gift of all (that sounds weird, yogic and philosophical but at the end of the day, isn’t true?), it needs to be worshiped and taken good care of. Moreover, no physical or mental limitations are not preventing successfully happy people from evolving; instead, they are taking action to change them and to go beyond, without defining themselves by these. They understand the need to slow down and listen to those vibrations within, this intuition.

It is essential to take care of oneself, one way or another, by incorporating a few healthy rituals for example (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, drinking more water, working out or doing an activity that pleases you everyday or at least three times a week, connecting with yourself or others, etc.)

Believe that abundance is measured from
what one gives and not from what one collects.

Successfully happy people usually love sharing their gifts and talents; they do not want to keep anything for themselves but rather have everyone else happy as well. Whether this is by volunteering, supporting someone you know or a complete stranger, loving people or helping them, sharing truly is the key to inner peace, richness and happiness. Being gentle to others and to ourselves also is a way to evolve and be a better person. Therefore, by cultivating gratitude and sharing our wealth, we will not only feel brighter but also shift our mindset, feeling empowered and clear in our intention.

I strongly believe the first step before sharing is to be grateful for the gifts of life, for all those powers we have but usually take for granted. And then, once we’ve realised how lucky we are, it will also be easier to feel compassion and share our abundance with others.


8 Best Reasons Everyone Should Start Yoga & Step on the Mat

It’s been five years since I’ve stepped into the yoga world, blooming from my mat and shading light on my life and this path I am creating for myself. Going back through my teacher training notes, I found the eight reasons I love yoga. And I had to share them with you cause they came from the mouth and spirit of a to be teacher, who was just beginning his adventure on the mat. Without further ado, here are the eight reasons I am in love with yoga…

1. Yoga will help improve your diet, sleep and overall health

Once your yoga practice starts to become quite regular, you’ll quickly notice that your lifestyle is going to follow. Focusing on the breath, yin postures as well as yang postures will realign your organism on its natural pattern; you’ll be surprised to become quite regular in your meals, in the hours you start to sleep and so on.

Combining bodywork as well as a mind work is a great vehicle for drastic but healthy lifestyle changes. But remember, this is what I experienced and it might not be the same for sure – so relax and just go with the flow. Follow your intuition. Being healthy does not mean avoiding a good glass of wine, a piece of cheese or anything you actually like, it’s more about harmony and balance. Plus, there are as many yoga as there are people on this planet!

2. Yoga relives stress and enable to breath better

The more you practice the more you’ll realise it to be almost impossible to focus on our day-to-day lives, problems, stressful situations as well as trying to keep our mind steady and focused on the poses. And this is what we want. Staying in a long, hard and very demanding position or on the contrary flowing through the postures, trying to follow instructions, breathe and focus – all at the same time – will help you in facing a whole range of difficult situations.

Even though life will challenge you way more than standing on the mat does, staying grounded and focused in uncomfortable positions will train yourself to be at your best when you need it the most. And you’ll learn how to properly breathe. A deep and aware breath will not only relieve unnecessary tension and stress through its effect on the nervous system, but it will also have an effect on the digestive, cardiovascular and immune system. Activating your breathing muscles and being aware of their actions will enable you to improve your body posture, cleanse and detoxify the cells by oxygenating the body, quiet your mind and making it more alert as well as improve memory and creativity. And this is just the point of the iceberg…

3. Yoga helps developing a deeper awareness
of our body, mind, qualities and flaws

The more you practice the more you’ll realise it to be almost impossible to focus on our day-to-day lives, problems, stressful situations as well as trying to keep our mind steady and focused on the poses. And this is what we want. Staying in a long, hard and very demanding position or on the contrary flowing through the postures, trying to follow instructions, breathe and focus – all at the same time – will help you in facing a whole range of difficult situations.

With time, hard work and dedication, you will start noticing body changes. And your knowledge about it as well. You might start to feel tension in a certain joint or compression somewhere in the body, which indicates that you should try to work on this exact spot a little more. You might succeed in making a posture you were never dreaming of achieving, which would most certainly boost your satisfaction. In any case, what you will end up with is a better awareness of what your capabilities are, and how you body moves and evolves into the environment. These skills you develop might be applied in a day-to-day basis, whether physically or mentally speaking. And that is for me the best practical benefit of yoga. Just remember that your body is different today from how it was yesterday and how it will be tomorrow – work towards acceptance and self-love, that would be my best advice. And this is only the point of the iceberg.

4. Yoga helps keeping our body in shape, flexible and strong

Yoga includes poses and sequences that are very powerful and aimed at strengthening and opening one’s body efficiently and most importantly, safely! The only thing that is required to become more flexible and stronger is patience (and a regular practice of course). Flow classes are my favourite classes for this reason (and the ones I actually like teaching the most): they combine everything from breathing, focus, movement, and elegance to deep muscular work.

What’s great in yoga practice is that it requires us to use every single muscle of our body. Yoga is an answer to our society’s illness, which is the body’s deterioration because of deskwork and idleness. Your entire body will get a proper wake-up call, and by combining strength, flexibility and a good sweat, you will be more mobile, stronger in the greatest shape ever.

5. Yoga is the best practice for the mind
as well as for focusing on the inner self

The main reason I reinforced my practice and tried to deepen my knowledge on yoga is that it is one of the variables that helped me getting through anorexia (read my story here). Having a regular practice, with its own regularity and requirements in it, as well as keeping my mind focused on my postures, alignment and breath really did the trick for me to avoid thinking about thinness, beauty, food, calories and so on.

And there is nothing better than meeting incredible people and having teachers that believe in you, motivate you and unconsciously help you, to feel valued and beautiful. Moreover, yoga is focused on the individual and her well being, an activity where you dig further into one’s mind to discover all the beauty and capabilities within. There’s also a whole philosophy of life behind it, which may help people getting over various life issues and answering big questions that were wandering into one’s mind. And this is not something you’ve got to embrace entirely, but choose to hear and sometimes apply, as I did with a few things only. As my favourite yoga teacher says, “Yoga is a great vehicle for inner change”. And this is where the magic is.

6. Yoga will make you meet incredible people
& is the fountain of youth

Yoga is not a mere sport; it’s much more than that. Once one has started practising a little more, one will notice that yoga is a way of life, of thinking, of seeing others and the environment. By gathering into a room and sharing a practice as well as small-talks and cups of tea even, people certainly do make friends with others that share their point of views, opinions or lifestyle’s choices. The energy that is created in a class brings people together and make them feel like they need to share, socialize, laugh and talk. Whether it is your yoga teacher, who could become an inspiration, or people you just met but feel like knowing for years, yoga will most certainly open your heart and make you realise the beauty in others…and I am speaking from experience here.

7. Yoga heals any kind of pain and injury

You would be surprised to hear how many people come into a class, as a beginner, with injuries and pain, particularly in the knees, back or joints. And these people most certainly started yoga because they were told that it would cure them. And it does.

It’s not only about alignment, breathing or movement; yoga is about identifying discomfort and pain, understanding our bodies and its range of movement. A good practice does not require for someone to push beyond the boundaries, just to trigger the edges and see where that may lead. Furthermore, there’s always a variation or modification for those who cannot do a pose or are afraid to start with the full posture, and this without preventing progress.

However, yoga works just like medicine – it is great when taken with good care and awareness of one’s body, but become a poison when taken badly. Last but not least, many poses are thought to be worsening someone’s injury, though they actually are the best thing to do in such a case – the “Reclining Hero” and its amazing effects on our knees’ health is the best example of this!

8. Yoga promotes gender equality and is a non-competitive
and non-performance orientated practice

Even though women are still the majority on the mat nowadays, men are starting to make their way into this lifestyle, and appreciate it a whole lot as I notice. The more I teach the more I see men joining my classes – this makes me extra-happy cause I want yoga to be accessible and appreciated by everyone. Men and women benefit equally from a yoga practice. What’s even better is that there is no competition or rivalry whatsoever, because yoga is focused on the self, on someone’s own practice, challenges and mind. The beauty of it is that all these differences and various practices melt together into a powerful energy that renders every single class even more beautiful than the previous one. It makes people more compassionate, more accepting, nicer and happier; and I believe these are things that are going to be needed in our future society.


Guest Recipe: Susan's Victoria Sponge with Chia jam and Coconut Cream

Susan Jane is blessing us with another of her absolutely scrumptious recipes. If this cake is not a sign from the universe that you should start dancing on the healthy baking path, I do not know what you need…maybe cakes shooting stars ?! This Victoria Sponge is the very first recipe I have ever made when starting my plantbased diet. I remember it vividly – not only were my birthday party’s guests a little shocked to learn about what truly was in that cake, but I also was delighted to see that I could indulge myself with delicious treats while not feeling guilty at all. And all of this while still being fully aware of all the benefits of the food I was eating. There is nothing boring about healthy food – we are justing thinking out of fear because we have been taught that food (aka. survival) is about refined and animal products. This is how we have been raised because the society we’ve grown in has worked that way for decades (if not centuries). Susan Jane and I, as well as all the healthy food bloggers out there, want you to come with us on this health journey and to open yourself to new possibilities and ways to approach food and nutrition. Without further ado, let me introduce you to a little piece of heaven: Susan’s Victoria Sponge Cake!

Not the traditional butter, cream,
sugar and bleached-flour variety.

This Victoria Sponge will make your taste buds fist-bump and your health insurer applaud.

Make it for a group of Brits, and you’ll have friends for life.

PS: Find her blog + cookbooks here!

Healthy Victoria Sponge w/ Chia Jam & Coconut Cream

Portions: 10 servings. Double to serve 20.
Preparation time: 45 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

1/2 cup coconut flour (65g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup ground almonds (23g)
1/2 teaspoon mineral-rich salt like Pink Himalayan
4 medium (not large) eggs
2 tablespoons natural soya yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
just under 1/2 cup unscented coconut oil, melted (120ml)
1/2 cup light agave or honey (125ml)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the chia jam filling:

2/3 cup frozen raspberries, defrosted (125g)
1-2 tablespoons chia seeds
Squeeze of lime (optional)
3 dates, pre-soaked and stones removed (or use medjools)
Coconut yoghurt to spread (or see my online recipe for DIY organic cream cheese)

Method

(1) To make the chia jam, let the raspberries thaw first. Then whiz them in a food processor or hand-held blender with the chia seeds, lime and licky-sticky dates. Allow the chia seeds to thicken the jam for 40 minutes before using.

(2) For the sponge, you’ll need to oil an 8×8 (20cm x 20cm) brownie pan, or a 10-inch (25cm) circular tin. It’s also important to preheat your oven to 170 degrees, 150 for fan-assisted or 325 Fahrenheit. I find the best oil to use for greasing is unscented (as opposed to extra virgin and raw) coconut oil. Unscented coconut oil won’t turn the edges of the sponge infuriatingly dark. The meat of the coconut is lightly steamed before pressed, in order to remove the strong coconutty aroma from the oil.

(3) Take out two large bowls. In the first bowl, sift your flour with the baking powder. Stir through the ground almonds and some salt.

(4) In the next bowl, whisk the eggs and yoghurt together, adding a splash of vanilla extract. Then pour in the melted coconut oil and sweetener, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps. Gradually drizzle in the lemon juice, whisking all the while.

(5) Scrape this gleefully sticky mess into your prepared tin. Level with a spatula. Then bake for approximately 20 minutes, depending on the circumference of your tin (I use a regular 8×8 brownie tin). The deeper the tin is, the longer time it needs. If you leave it in longer than 30 minutes, I will throw a tantrum.

(6) Remove the sponge from the oven, and admire. Let it cool for 60 minutes before ejecting from the tin. Then carefully slice the sponge in half (of course you could always double the recipe, and make two tiers instead). Smother great big clouds of coconut yoghurt over one half. Parachute a little chia jam on top of this. Then crown with the other half of the sponge.

(7) Serve on a plate with many napkins and giddy fingers. And a side of Sinatra.


Almond, Chocolate & Sweet Potato Blondies

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. And when you need to reduce your sugar intake, well, you come up with the most delicious ideas. Because (healthy!) sweets truly are bare necessities in one’s life. For someone that usually eats energy balls on the reg, that prepare choc brownies when invited for a dinner party or just because he fancies it, that has a love/hate relationship with honey, maple, dates and so many more healthy sugars, it truly was a great challenge to bring new twists to my regular desserts and snacks.

As I was preparing some sweet potato puree for the fam and our “Buddha Bowl” evening, I wondered if I could use this sweet-tasting puree for dessert purposes. Knowing that it was working with brownies, why wouldn’t it with blondies?! It took me some time to define the right ingredients and to pair the nicest flavours together but I guess I have found my happiness so far.

Those blondies are THE absolute best

when it comes to eating sweets.

They are soft and chewy, which is totally indispensable; very sweet despite their low extra-sugar content (it makes a little less than a teaspoon of maple by portion – great right?!), since the sweet potato itself already is very sweet-tasting. These babies are a powerhouse, nutritionally full of healthy fats, vitamins A, magnesium, potassium and calcium, and some plant proteins. I am quite sure you could make them even more interesting by adding superfoods – maca, baobab or other powders – or other adaptogens – lion’s mane, ashwagandha, etc. I absolutely adore those as an afternoon pick-me-up, to fill me up for the rest of the day, or as a dessert obviously. And if you’re afraid it will taste like vegetable – well I promise it does not!

Moist, decadent, satisfying,

full of textures and flavours,

you’ve just been served by the heavens!

Almond, Chocolate & Sweet Potato Blondies

Portions: 16 pieces
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

1 tbsp of coconut flour (or arrowroot flour alternatively)
50g of brown rice flour (or spelt)
125g of almond meal (almost with a flour texture)

Wet ingredients:

2 tbsp of chia seeds + 1 tbsp of milled chia seeds + 4 tbsp of water
175g of sweet potatoes, cooked and pureed
125g of almond butter (or the one you would prefer)
50g of dates, mashed to paste
3 – 4 tbsp of maple syrup
2 dl of plant milk (almond, oat, spelt, etc.)
125g of crushed pecans
100g of dark chocolate, sliced in little nibs

Method

(1) Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line up a brownies tin with parchment paper. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

(2) Peel and cut the sweet potato in cubes. Place in a large volume of water, bring to a boil and cook until very soft. Puree and take only the amount you need for the recipe (eat the rest!). Mix the whole and mix chia seeds together with the water and let sit for about 10 minutes.

(3) In the meantime, mix the dates in a food processor (or with a fork!) and add the almond butter, maple syrup, plant milk and sweet potato puree. Mix until fluffy.

4) Serve immediately, with the toppings of your choice. I personally love some more maple, a few frozen or fresh berries, some nut butter & a few seeds on top. Enjoy!

(5) Spread nicely in your brownies tin, evening out the surface. Place in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes up until 30. A knife inserted in the centre must come out clear and the surface must be hard to touch and golden brown. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.


8 Ingredients Pancakes For Those Who Want A Quick But Delicious Breakfast

I am a breakfast person. And as far as I know, I do not believe there is something trendier than pancakes for breakfast. Even though some other breakfast ideas do attract the spotlights, such as chia puddings, healthy granolas or smoothies, I’ve never seen so many pancakes on my Instagram feed or on the Internet. And the reason is we, food bloggers, are creating healthy versions of them, which do attract people’s attention more and more every day. I’ve been asked multiple times to share a pancake recipe on the blog, and I guess those people’s dreams have come true! (For a non-vegan recipe, you can click here !).

There is nothing else
you would want to wake up to

There is nothing else you would want to wake up to; there is nothing else you would want to pour maple syrup on; there is nothing else you could sacrifice your sanity for. Well, let’s be honest, if you have got someone to prepare them for you, that’s even better. Waking up to those beauties is like discovering a hundred banknote in the side pocket of your favourite jeans. Not only are they fluffy as cotton clouds, but they are sweet and perfectly balanced at the same time, firm and yet very tender. What you could do if you’re running out of time in the morning is preparing them ahead (do not prepare the dough ahead, as it will become way to dense the day after) and simply grab them in the morning.

Food is Energy, Your Body

needs Energy, Your Body Needs Food

I am doing doing all that fuss about breakfast because it actually is the most important meal of the day. Not only is it the time where your body needs to refuel, as it’s been starving and using some energy through the night (because your brain stays active during the night, and even if you’re sleep, it is your entire body which regenerates. And to do that, it uses the rest of power and energy you’ve gather throughout the previous day). To give proper energy to your muscles, cells and entire organism, you need to have a proper breakfast. A good balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, to offer your body all the chances it gets to crush its day! It is in the morning that we create our energy and intention for the day. Changing habits takes time indeed, but when it comes to the body functions, it is even simpler. If you’re not hungry in the morning, start eating even if not hungry or waking up earlier (so that your digestive system wakes up too), and slowly but surely, your body will adapt to this new rhythm; you’ll just need to deeply want it. Keep that in mind folks! 

Buckwheat, Oat and Banana Pancakes

Portions: 2 servings.
Preparation time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 15 minutes.

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

100g of buckwheat flour (spelt would work too)
70g of oats
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp of psyllium husk (optional)
1 banana, mashed
200ml of plant milk (almond, oat, spelt)
1 – 2 tbsp of maple syrup
Coconut oil to fry

For the toppings:

Frozen or fresh berries
Banana slices
Maple syrup, honey or date syrup
Nut butter
Any type of nuts
Any type of seeds
Dried Fruits (gogi berries, dates, figs)
Granola

Method

1) Start by blending the oats until obtaining a very fine flour consistency. Add the buckwheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and psyllium to the food processor or blender and blend just for a few seconds to mix.

2) In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana, and add the milk and maple syrup. Pour the dry ingredients in and mix correctly. The dough must be shiny and runny (but not too much).

3) Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a frying pan, and turn on medium heat. Spoon out some dough (one heaped tablespoon each) and form two to three pancakes at the same time. Cook for about 2 minutes on this side, or until bubbles start appearing at the top. Flip them all and cook for one more minutes. Place them on a plate, heat some more oil and start again, until you’re out of dough.

4) Serve immediately, with the toppings of your choice. I personally love some more maple, a few frozen or fresh berries, some nut butter & a few seeds on top. Enjoy!