Papaya & Coconut Sorbet Nana Bowls

 
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It's feelin' hot, hot, hot in the tropics today and the best way to cool down? Frozen banana smoothie bowls! These are just so quick and easy to make, and you can play around with different flavours and toppings to your heart's content. For these ones, I used papaya too 'coz I'm kinda crushing on this fruit lately. Not only does it look and taste like a sweet sunset in paradise, it's full of enzymes that support and maintain digestive health. It's also a beauty food; naturally hydrating and high in skin-boosting vitamins. 

ingredients

1 fresh coconut
1/4 large papaya
1-2 frozen bananas, sliced
1/4 cup coconut water or milk (your choice!)
a handful of toasted coconut flakes
fruity toppings like: extra papaya, strawberry, passionfruit, raspberries

method

First we need to crack open the coconut to make our 'bowl', being careful to save that precious water to pop into your papaya sorbet. Holding the coconut with a towel, firmly tap it with a meat mallet or hammer, turning as needed, until the shell starts cracking in half. Split the shell, then pour the coconut water into a glass and set aside. Sounds easy, but I always need someone to help me with this!

Next place the papaya, frozen banana and coconut water into a high-powered blender and pulse until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached. It should look a bit like soft-serve ice cream now. Simply spoon the sorbet into the coconut shell 'bowls' and top with toasted coconut flakes and fruit. Consume immediately while it's still nice and cold. Yum, am I right?

 

'Sacred Goddess' Ceremonial Cacao

 
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Apart from being a superfood with a wealth of health properties, raw cacao (or, "chocolate" in it's purest form) is a powerful plant medicine that has been used for centuries for her spiritual and energetic properties. Cacao’s scientific name (Theobroma cacao) translates to ‘food of the Gods’. And it has been used as a ritualistic medicine by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans for centuries. In the mythologies of these people, cacao is said to have come from the heavens and contain the spirit of the sacred 'Goddess Cacao'. 

Because cacao is a ‘heart opening’ medicine, she aids in any transformational shift you are working towards; which is why I particularly love drinking this 'Sacred Goddess' Ceremonial Cacao during full and new moon rituals... more on those later!

WHAT HAPPENS IN MY BODY WHEN I DRINK CACAO?

Serotonin: induces the production in the brain of a substance called tryptophan linked to serotonin, creating sensations of tranquility and happiness.   

Magnesium: helps improve your mood, especially during pre-menstrual depression.   

Theobramine: acts as a diuretic and stimulates the renal system and central nervous system.   

Carbohydrates + healthy fats: induces various chemical processes after the amount of oxygen reaching the brain increases, which then results in greater mental fluency.   

Anandamide: activates certain brain receptors, inducing a pleasant wellness feeling. 

Polyphenols: protect against heart disease and help prevent degenerative diseases and slow ageing.

Sounds amazing, right? Here's my recipe for 'Sacred Goddess' Ceremonial Cacao; imbued with the magic of the chocolate love goddess herself! If you can, try to find some pure, raw Amazonian cacao powder. Take care to prepare your cacao mindfully, with loving intention. Play shamanic dance music, or recite a mantra, and reflect on your intention for the ceremony as you make the sacred mixture.

ingredients

4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut palm sugar
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup dessert tea (this can be any kind of black tea flavoured with chocolate, almond or even chai; the yummier and more aromatic, the better!)
a pinch of vanilla bean powder
a pinch of cinnamon

method

Boil the kettle and prepare your dessert tea. Meanwhile, begin by measuring the raw cacao powder and coconut palm sugar into a large teacup or clay/porcelain tumbler. Stir in the milk to make a smooth, creamy paste. Next add the tea, little by little, until a smooth, velvety consistency is reached. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and stir gently.

You may like to drink it warm, like a hot chocolate, however, I prefer my cacao chilled. If you're like me, make it in the morning, and refrigerate through the day until the sun sets. The flavours seem to intensify and the fats in the coconut milk and cacao make the drink even thicker and creamier when chilled... Translation: yum!

Photos by: Valerie Minville

 

Shakti Retreats: March Glow Weekend

 
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Well, it's just over a week since my first Glow Weekend Retreat and I'm still glowing! I recently shared a post about discovering my dharma, and feeling as if my life's purpose is to heal, transform and love – not only myself, but others too. I certainly felt like this past weekend was a great leap forward for me in realising that dream and following my heart. It has led me here, to magical Sri Lanka, to teach the healing arts; and last weekend, I was truly blessed to share a milestone moment in my journey with nine beautiful souls. What pure bliss to have these kindred spirits arrive in the jungle last Friday for a weekend of yoga, meditation, mantra, compassionate cuisine, beauty rituals, art classes and, of course, a powerful full moon cacao ceremony. I could not have been happier or more grateful!

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After a delicious welcome lunch, we began our weekend's healing journey with a gentle Yin Yoga session. The theme was 'Hanuman's Heart'. With Saturday being Hanuman's birthday, and with the intention to open our hearts and make leaps of faith in life and love, we worked deep into our hips and hearts as the energy began to flow. Next, we enjoyed a luscious 'Glowing Body' beauty ritual and tea ceremony in the shala, learning to release stress and tension with Ayurvedic facial massage and energy-imbued aromatherapy from Synthesis Organics. Completely blissed out, we enjoyed an indulgent five-course vegan dinner on the balcony, under the light of the twinkling stars.

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There was time to chill and chat in the pool with my soul sisters on Saturday, after stirring up some magic in our morning Vinyasa Flow class (dedicated to the full moon and releasing our deep inner magic and intuition). We also performed some culinary sorcery in the kitchen with a Raw Vegan 'Un-Cooking' Class, making goji berry, toasted coconut and almond chocolates and creamy chive and cheddar cheese dips. We almost couldn't fit in lunch – but, of course we did. Since we were served even more divine vegan cuisine – green smoothies, home-made gluten free kurakkan bread and berry chia jam, cheesy polenta wedges with vegetables in a light coconut curry, red rice balls with papaya salsa and tamarind jam, and papaya sorbet... I'll stop before my drool hits the keyboard!

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On Saturday evening, after a twilight Yang/Yin Yoga class invoking our inner 'Jungle Spirit' we enjoyed a Sacred Cacao Ceremony under the light of the full moon. We sipped decadently rich, ceremonial-grade cacao prepared with raw ingredients from the Amazon, inhaling the aroma of the chocolate and filling our senses as we invoked the spirit of 'Mama Cacao', releasing negative energies and setting positive intentions for the coming moon cycle. Another 5-course dinner was enjoyed with our new-found soul mates and it was off to bed to dream wild, sweet dreams.

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In Sunday morning's Hatha Vinyasa class, we explored asanas inspired by my homeland, Australia, and it's ancient 'Dreamtime' legend. After that, it was time for a Making Magic Workshop, where we practiced 'manifestation' through creative visualisation and a Yoga Nidra meditation. Finally, we took a wander through the chakra rainbow in one final guided meditation before taking up our paint brushes to get creative around the kitchen table. 

After a delicious farewell lunch (we brought out the kurakkan pizzas with beetroot hummus – yasss!), it was time to say goodbye. I honestly felt like I was saying goodbye to nine old friends, and in the quiet space that followed, I reflected on just how beautifully each and every one of us had connected. I only hope that, like me, each time they think back on this weekend, they begin to glow a little brighter!

p.s. if you'd like to experience a retreat just like this one, click here to see all my upcoming events xx

Photos by: Valerie Minville & Dushan Jayasinghe

 

Shakti Stories: Discovering my Dharma

 
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Just as the sun must shine and the bees must make honey, it is said that all beings must accept their dharma for order and harmony to exist in the world. If an individual is following their dharma, they are pursuing their truest calling, serving all other beings in the universe by playing their own unique role. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment. 

It can be difficult to grasp from a Western perspective, but I feel that living your dharma means to act in accordance with your divine purpose – you may even call it cosmic destiny. Since dharma is also closely related to the concept of duty and service to others (and in the Bhakti tradition, unconditional love), I feel that one's dharma can never be selfish.

My own dharma became known to me over the past 10 years, via little whispers from my inner voice, serendipitous connections, and transformational shifts. It has been a long and winding road but every day brings me closer. Perhaps the first time I felt that 'cosmic calling' towards the healing arts, was during my stay at Fivelements back in 2012. I had never experienced a place of healing and renewal such as this before; never had I taken a yoga class, nor tasted vegan cuisine. And, whilst I hesitate to use such a cliché phrase, it truly changed my life.

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Nestled on the banks of the mystical Ayung River, Fivelements gave me the space I needed to allow deep healing to unfold – physical, emotional and spiritual. After just 3 days I felt a clarity and purpose like never before. I was glowing, of course, from the divine healing food, the peaceful natural surroundings and beauty treatments, but I was also (finally!) able to hear my inner voice. She was calling me to make a life change; to begin healing myself and others.

On my return to Australia, I immediately enrolled in a holistic nutrition course and took up yoga. I became a vegan and, soon enough, my dharma expanded to include protecting the innocent. I felt a growing responsibility to defend the rights of our animal brothers and sisters, creating change through vegan cookbooks, pop-up dinners and my blog. Today, I am a certified Holistic Health Coach, Shakti Spirit Guide and Yoga Teacher, hosting transformational wellness retreats across Asia. I teach yoga, meditation, mantra, art therapy, creative visualisation, beauty rituals and plant medicine ceremonies – all designed to help others to heal, transform and bring more love into their lives. Every day I wake up grateful to have discovered my dharma, and I have Fivelements to thank for showing me the light.

What's even more exciting is that I'll be returning to this heavenly retreat in May – back to the place where 'Jungle Shakti' was born! I hope you'll follow my adventures in Bali next month as I take you on a journey back to where it all began.

Take me there...

Fivelements
Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa Banjar Baturning, 
Mambal, Bali, Indonesia 80352

 

Raw Vegan Choc-Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake

 
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Whoah! Wait a minute! Have I not shared this incredible recipe with you yet?? I made this last year for one of my plant-based pop-up dinners and it was a huge hit! It's also my all-time favourite vegan cake recipe. Now that's a big call. It combines peanut butter, banana, chocolate and coconut in one seriously indulgent, totally transcendental, and positively orgasmic dessert experience. Try a little experiment and serve it to some non-vegans (shhhh... don't say anything yet!). Watch their eyes widen in wonder at the deliciousness and then drop the bombshell – it's VEGAN, yo! And, better yet, it doesn't contain any refined sugar! Now, let them bask in your culinary wizardry.

Ingredients

For the crust
1 and 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts and shredded coconut
1 cup dates

For the filling
6 large sweet bananas
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
4 cups cashews
3 cups dates
1/2 cup kitul treacle
Paste from two vanilla pod
Water, as needed
1/2 cup raw cacao powder

Toppings
3 tbsp Vegan Chocolate sauce
3 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
shards of chocolate & bliss balls (to decorate)

Method

To make the crust, process the nuts, coconut and dates until they stick together. Press into the bottom of a spring form or silicone cake tin, lined with baking paper, and place in the fridge.

To make the cheesecake filling, blend all ingredients - except cacao! - until very smooth. Add as little water as necessary to keep your cheesecake nice and creamy. If you don't want to add any water, use some liquid sweetener or another banana. Now pour half the batter into the cake tin and set the rest aside (keep covered at room temperature). Place the cake tin in the freezer for at least an hour before continuing with the chocolate layer.

When ready, add the cacao to the remaining batter and blend until it's incorporated. Remove the cake tin from the freezer, and drizzle peanut butter generously on top of the vanilla layer. Then pour over the chocolate layer.

Set in the freezer overnight and then decorate with chocolate sauce and peanut butter sauce (to make peanut butter sauce simply mix peanut with coconut oil until runny). Sprinkle toasted coconut over just before serving. Serve frozen.

 

Shakti Retreats: Yoga & The Five Elements

 
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Friends, I have some really wonderful news! Do you remember back in December when I made my vision board for 2018, I included some images of me practicing yoga in the jungles of Indonesia...? Well it's only March and my vision for the year is already manifesting in spectacular fashion; even more beautifully and rapidly than I could ever have imagined! Next year, I just might have to put a crystal cave and a unicorn on that vision board...

As it turns out, in yet another example of the tremendous power of attraction, I'll be returning to my beloved Bali (the place where Jungle Shakti was born!) this June, for what I know will be another incredible, transformational experience. I've been invited along as a guest teacher for Light & Bliss – a travel and wellness company providing soulful retreats and luxury adventures in exotic destinations across Asia. Together with my kindred spirit, soul sister and fellow wellness warrior, Nina, I'll be hosting a 5 night retreat at B. Saya in luscious Ubud.

This retreat takes it's inspiration from the five elements – fire, air, earth, water and spirit. The program is curated with activities that will immerse us in these elements, taking us on a journey that is both light and fiery, allowing you to explore and deepen your practice. 

The Five Elements

Earth | a grounding practice that involves nature and meditation walks, scenic landscapes within Ubud

Water | water temple ritual, yoga flow practice, waterfall and hidden canyon exploration

Fire | a powerful practice, Balinese cooking class, herbal sauna experience

Wind | gong bath meditation, yoga nidra, a celebration of music

Spirit | an art workshop allowing you to create something out of nothing

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What's Included

  • 6 days, 5 nights of immersive yoga and outdoor adventure
  • Daily Yoga and Meditation
  • Delicious, Healthy Meals 
  • Stay in a secluded and hidden tropical villa by the rice paddies, yet only a few minutes from town
  • Purification bath ritual at Tirtha Empul
  • Trek to waterfall and hidden canyon with an outdoor picnic lunch
  • Sound healing session
  • Balinese cooking class
  • Meditation at a Balinese temple
  • Outdoor herbal steam sauna experience with access to a natural salt water pool and bonfire
  • Cultural and art immersion workshop
  • Soothing and relaxing 2.5 hour session of Ayurvedic Healing Chakra

It's hard to say what I am looking forward to the most? Connecting with others on their spiritual path? Hell yes! Exploring a side of Bali that I have never seen before? For sure! Deepening my practice? Always! But then, let's get real for a minute and admit that I'm also really, really, really keen on trying out the local vegan cuisine and floating around in that gorgeous pool whenever possible. Ha! You knew I was going to say that, right?

Anyway, I truly hope to see you here in paradise in June. I would love to see some Jungle Shakti fans attending, share a green smoothie and practice yoga together in this exotic shala. Please click the link below to learn more about the retreat and book. Ooh, and don't forget to mention JUNGLESHAKTI when booking to receive $100 off.

Take me there...

Yoga + The Five Elements
B. Saya Ubud
June 21st

 

Shakti Stays: Kurundu House

 
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Just as it always seems to happen in serendipitous Sri Lanka, little surprises like Kurundu House appear by accidental "island magic" (like an oasis in the desert!), just when you need them the most! Nestled into the scenic hillside on the southern shores of Kandy's Victoria Lake lies a tranquil oasis for travellers seeking a place to unwind and rejuvenate in blissful privacy. A boutique design hotel, with just four rooms, Kurundu House is carefully crafted by Jeffrey Bawa Award-winning architect Pradeep Kodikara. Situated about 45 minutes from Kandy in the serene village of Nithulemada, it feels like a secret hideaway – and was exactly what I needed!

The contemporary design blends seamlessly with the surrounding environment, the open lounge and dining area dissolves into an impossibly clear infinity pool with a view of the lake beyond. The rooms too invite nature in, with a beautiful semi-outdoor shower that allows you to enjoy the tropical breeze whilst you wash your hair.

Hubby & I were lucky enough to spend a few days relaxing by this pool, practicing yoga facing the sunrise each morning, and being truly pampered by our hosts Herath & Udeni – Sri Lankan hospitality at it's finest! I could write an entirely new blog post just about Udeni's incredible cooking. Each dish was lovingly prepared by her own two hands, from the red rice string hoppers and light carrot curry, to the mung kiri bath (milk rice) and coconut sambol. Over the three nights we stayed, she spoiled us until we almost burst. Good thing we were doing our daily yoga practice, or we might not have fit back into a tuk tuk! After such amazing hospitality, it seemed only right to dub them our second "Sri Lankan Mum & Dad" and vow to return to visit as often as possible.

Take me there...

Kurundu House
Nithulemada Rd, (Off Victoria Golf Club Rd),
Digana, Sri Lanka

 

Jungle Shakti's Glowing Body Beauty Ritual

 
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Mukha Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic tradition of oil-based, nourishing facial massage. It focuses on the Marma Points in the face, head and neck to reinvigorate the tissues, detoxify and tone, and refresh the senses. The word Abhyanga has been translated from sanskrit origins to mean ‘glowing body’. Massage nurtures us on all levels, inducing physical, mental and even spiritual wellbeing. Regular massage;

  • Relaxes muscles and improves tone
  • Stimulates internal organs
  • Increases lymphatic drainage
  • Eases tension and stress
  • Calms the mind and nervous system
  • Supports restful sleep
  • Promotes longevity
  • Eliminates fatigue
  • Activates digestion
  • Lubricates the joints
  • Improves circulation and more!

Together with Synthesis Organics, I've designed this 'Glowing Body Beauty Ritual'. Based on ancient massage techniques, and combined with my favourite vegan, organic, energy-imbued skincare from Australia, this simple self-care ritual will release layers of stress and tension, promote balance, and evoke the youthful radiance of an overflowing heart.

Step 1. Brew your tisane

Start by brewing a pot of caffeine free herbal tea (I love to use Synthesis Organics Brighten Beauty Tisane). Close your eyes, put both hands on your heart chakra and take several deep breaths, feeling the pulse of the life current through your whole being. This is your moment to nurture yourself and give some love to your beautiful body and spirit. Pour one cup of tea for yourself, taking a few long, leisurely sips, and then another cup into a small bowl to make a simple cleanser.

Step 2. Cleanse 

Add a few drops of virgin organic coconut oil to the tea (you can also use essential oils here, but be mindful not to use peppermint or anything too strong) and stir gently. Moisten a clean facial cloth in the mixture and use it to massage the face and neck, cleansing away all makeup and 'waking up' your skin. Leave for a minute, allowing the precious oil to nourish the skin and the eyelashes before rinsing off. Gently pat dry with a clean wash cloth.

Step 3. Massage

Apply a facial massage oil of your choice. I love to use Synthesis Organics Soothe Cleansing Oil  or you can also make your own with 1-2 teaspoons of coconut or almond oil plus 1-2 drops of essential oil. Massage the oil into your face and neck via the fingertips. Take a deep breath.

Neck – Lift your chin up and massage your neck using upward strokes - from the collarbone to the base of the chin.

Chin – Start from the centre from under your chin, move your index finger under your jaw, outwards to the ears.

Mouth – With circular movements, apply pressure to your chin, around your mouth. Massage along the lower lip outward and upward. Then move your attention to the upper lip, outward and upward and then with light tapping motions, or ‘fairy fingers’ from side to side.

Cheeks – Stroke from the corners of your mouth to the ears. Use one hand on each cheek and move them both out together in a circular motion.

Nose –Massage the tip and sides, back and forth, accentuating the upper movement, then slide your index fingers along the sides of your nose from the bridge down.

Eyes – Stroke in a circle around your eye sockets with your middle fingers, taking care not to get the oil too close to the eyes. Stroke firmly and evenly from the bridge of your nose out over your eyebrows, pressing on your temples, then glide lightly under the cheek bone

Brows – Follow the eyebrows in a smooth motion and massage the ridges of the brows.

Forehead – Stroke from the centre of your forehead to your temples, pressing gently on the temples. Place both index fingers on the bridge of your nose and make short, firm strokes upward. Fap gently ten times on the middle of your forehead, directly above the eyes. Finish by pressing firmly on your third eye.

Crown – Finally, finding the crown chakra, press firmly before moving to the the base of the neck and hairline. Finish with your hands on your heart, eyes closed, feeling the warmth of your energy moving through your face and body.

Make it part of your weekly (or better yet, daily!) routine for a glowing mind, body and spirit. Don't forget that you can use the code JUNGLESHAKTI10 for 10% off all Synthesis Organics products (they ship internationally!). It's like a little care package from Australia!