SWEET POTATO NACHOS (with quinoa & bean mince)

This is what happened when my love of sweet potatoes met my love of nachos… a delicious plant-on-plant combination, that’s satisfying, protein-packed, tasty and very sharable.

As sweet potatoes and quinoa featured heavily in my recent cooking workshop, I thought it would be nice to share another family favourite with a wider audience while dedicating it officially to the lovely course participants (thank you, guys!) who may well have some sweet potatoes and quinoa leftover.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week so far and that you’ll enjoy this dish if you try it! Oh, and here’s a link to the recipe video on Instagram if you want to cook along with me (at super speed 😀 ).

❤ Marisa xx



Makes: 2-4 portions depending on hunger level


6-8 sweet potatoes (I recommend 2-3 per person)
2-3 tbsp olive (or coconut) oil


1 packet organic crushed tomatoes (around 390 g)
460 g black beans (2 tins), rinsed
2 roasted red bell peppers/capsicums chopped
4-6 sundried tomatoes finely chopped
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
200 ml quinoa, cooked in vegetable stock
A pinch of coconut sugar (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dairy-free cheese (or cheese of choice)
Fresh herbs (cilantro/coriander or parsley)
Fresh chilli
Cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat your oven to 200-215°C. All ovens are calibrated a little differently, and if yours has known hot spots, opt for a lower temperature. Line a baking tray with foil or baking parchment.
  2. Peel and slice sweet potatoes (into discs of a thickness of approximately 1/2 a centimeter). Pop slices into a bowl and drizzle over oil. Toss to coat evenly.
  3. Lay the slices out flat and ensure they do not overlap. Pop the tray in the oven and bake the slices for around 20 minutes, checking after the first 10 minutes to see if you need to turn the oven down a touch.
  4. Add all mince ingredients to a large frying/skillet pan and simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. When sweet potato slices are done, arrange them on a plate as you would corn chips and top with quinoa and bean mince and additions of your choice. Serve immediately.


*The mince can be made well in advance and even frozen for later use. Will keep for a week in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.

7-DAY PLANT PANTRY MEAL PREP WORKSHOP- save time, save money & cook with me! Starts July 19

It’s not often that I post announcements on my blog, but I’m breaking with tradition today as my very first online cooking workshop goes live tomorrow! How does delicious, wholesome, budget-friendly food – prepped to save you time – starring 2 inexpensive, healthy pantry staples sound? All recipes included in the workshop are made with real food ingredients and are vegan-friendly, white sugar-free and gluten-free. What’s more, running this workshop in conjunction with Live to be enables all participants the opportunity to cook and engage at their own convenience, regardless of schedule or timezone.

Interested? Read on! And I hope to cook with you soon!

❤ Marisa xx

What will you learn?
Join me for a week as we make some of my honest-to-goodness favourites (and my family’s)!
Learn my key to eating well while balancing career, creative pursuits, travel and 3 children and chat with me daily for support, encouragement and tips.

What will you receive?

  • Recipes, advice and information
  • A suggested meal prep plan
  • A shopping guide specific to the workshop
  • Support in the form of direct communication
  • Encouragement from me and your fellow participants
  • Grass-roots meal prep tips to save you time & money
  • Permanent access to all recipes provided



Everyday you will receive a recipe/s + cooking tips on your mobile device.
Cook in your own time and share your experience in the group chat.
Ask questions and receive warm, personal support in the chat or in private.


Register here http://bit.ly/MM_workshop and download the free Livetobe_ app on your phone. Easy!
Day 1 is free. If you like what you see, you can continue cooking for the 7-day period.


We’re welcoming the warmer weather here in Sweden with this somewhat healthier spin on an old-fashioned British treat. If you’re not from the UK or familiar with the term Knickerbocker Glory, you’ll no doubt be curious as to what kind of concoction it is. Supposedly invented somewhere down by the English seashore in the 1930s, this layered ice-cream dessert is still popular with modern-day Brits. Traditionally made with fruit, vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream and a fruit sauce, the dessert is almost always topped with a cherry.

Give this one a go if you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side of indulgent. And by all means, share with someone you love. We actually shared this one as a family. Yes, all five of us!

It was my graduation day celebration treat (I had to go out on a fancy note!).

Happy weekend, all!

❤ Marisa xx




with vegan nicecream, nectarines & a sesame wafer

Makes: 1 large sundae

One nectarine, chopped in a dice fashion
A handful of fresh raspberries
2-3 scoops of chocolate nicecream (recipe below)
Melted dark chocolate
Whipped coconut cream
1 cherry
1 sesame wafer (recipe below)


  1. In a tall sundae/milkshake glass add chopped nectarine.
  2. Pop raspberries on top.
  3. Melted chocolate can be drizzled either around the inside or outside rim of the glass.
  4. Top the raspberries with three scoops of chocolate nicecream.
  5. More melted chocolate can be drizzled over, if you like.
  6. Top the nicecream with whipped coconut cream. Place a cherry on top and add the sesame wafer.
  7. Serve immediately with a long ice cream spoon.



125 ml birch sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp rice malt syrup
100 ml sesame seeds
125 ml organic flour (gluten-free or plain)
A tiny pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line baking trays with baking parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar/birch sugar, coconut oil, rice malt syrup & vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Remove pan from heat, and add dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
  4. Now there are a couple of ways to form your crisps now; either roll out the still-warm mix between 2 sheets of baking paper on a tray and baking it as a “slab” to cut up while warm from the oven or break up into shards when cool… OR cut into shapes of choice prior to baking and arrange on a baking parchment lined tray with at least 3 cm separating each piece before baking (they will spread slightly).
  5. Bake until crisp and golden, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size, thickness and desired level of goldenness.



1 large banana (or 2 medium-small ones), chopped and frozen
2 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut cream
A pinch of vanilla powder


Blitz all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with professional travel photographer, Søren Thuesen


A conversation with creative explorer, Søren Thuesen, aka s1000

With his eye for incredible composition and tone, Søren has been among my favourite travel photographers since I first came across his work on Instagram. His captivating imagery seems born of an intuitive understanding of the visual impact of scale, geometry, line and colour within a landscape. As a freelance photographer and designer, he travels to the places dreams are made of and captures moments in a manner that teleports you, heightening your sense of wonder… and provoking feelings of reflective solitude.

Working on projects involving the diverse yet related skills of design, photography and front end development, Søren has partnered with brands such as Opel, Olympus, Adidas, The Food Club, Royal Copenhagen, Georg Jensen and Bang & Olufsen.

Impressed? So am I!

Let’s find out more about the man behind the camera…

Marisa: Where did you go on your last assignment?

Søren: Actually my last project was a local assignment; road-tripping in the North of Denmark in an Opel Crossland X with my mom. Opel wanted a set of photos with a domestic touch and my first thought was to take it to the beach, since that’s allowed on certain stretches around the west coast in Denmark. That came out super fun!

Marisa: When heading to a new destination, what’s something you hope to find? (e.g., compelling scenery, a new culinary experience, a friendly local bar, a comfy bed or what have you…)

Søren: All of the above! Most of the time I’m lucky enough to travel with my wife, so preparation for a new destination always results in a mix of everything from great food to great landscapes.

Marisa: What’s your camera of choice? And are there other photography related items you simply cannot be without when travelling?

Søren: I’ve been carrying a Canon 6D (primarily shooting wide on a 16-35 mm) for a long time – it’s great for both landscape and street photography, but for everyday use I’m often bringing my less heavy Olympus EM1 or simply my trusty iPhone. Lately my favourite camera is sitting on a drone though. 😀

Marisa: As the other half of the dynamic duo behind wholesome cookbook Vegetar (made in creative partnership with Ditte Ingemann), I assume you must share a love of nourishing food. Do you have any travel-friendly healthy food hacks?

Søren: Best tip: marry wisely! I definitely share the love of nourishing food, but the real hero on any trip would be the other half of that Dynamic Duo; she will never run low on healthy snacks, water or places to eat while on the road.

Marisa: Expanding on that last point, do you have any general tips for maintaining health and balance while on the road?

Søren: Again, marry wisely! Being on the road with a co-driving food magician definitely helps getting through the day in a healthy manner.

Marisa: Is it possible to stay grounded and present in a moment of enjoyment while also trying to capture it photographically?

Søren: Personally, no. I’m like a kid at Christmas when I find myself in an area of interest, but I’ve realised that’s how I enjoy epic landscapes or great architectural structures best. Actually I often find the moment of enjoyment back in the studio during the editing process. I would like to just say yes, though.

Marisa: Which destination has been the biggest surprise to you?

Søren: I need to mention Iceland. I’ve been there 4 times and every time has been a complete surprise in sheer beauty and shifting conditions. Weather is all over the place and I’ve actually seen all four seasons within an hour- worn shorts and t-shirt in the morning while ending the day freezing in boots and layers of jackets.

Marisa: What has been your most memorable travel shoot experience?

Søren: Again I have to mention Iceland! I was lucky enough to join an expedition with a team of Nordic Instagrammers to test the Olympus EM1, which was a lot of fun and full of memorable experiences. I’ll never forget the sound of complete silence in the middle of nowhere staring at Northern Lights moving across the sky in complete darkness.

Marisa: Any pro tips for would-be travel photographers?

Søren: Do your research. I always use Google Maps ahead of any mission to bookmark/star any potential location, restaurant etc. With satellite maps you can even plan out possible spots to park a car or even peek at a restaurant with street view. Also apps on the phone has made it super easy to plan shoots depending on sunset, size of the moon, position of the milky way etc. I use PhotoPills for all that nerdy stuff and AirMap to plan any drone flight.


  • Jungle or desert? A combination of the two would be amazing!
  • Coffee shop or cocktail lounge? Coffee in the morning, Cocktails at night 😉
  • Your dream client: I love to travel and I love gear, so I guess that would make my dream client a camera brand that requires a lot of travelling!
  • Your favourite destination: Iceland for views, Berlin for food
  • Best healthy food spot in Copenhagen: Definitely WeDoFood in the Meatpacking District; love the concept of mixing your own salad! Great selection for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
  • And lastly, is there anywhere particular you haven’t been that you long to visit? What attracts you? Mountains! – living in a country as flat as Denmark make you long for heights and right now I got the South Island of New Zealand quite high on the list, but since Norway is so close I might just put that on the list again.


Many thanks to Søren for taking time out of his intense travel and shooting schedule to answer my questions. I hope you enjoyed meeting him too!

If you have any suggestions for questions you’d like me to ask upcoming health/wellness/travel professionals for this blog feature series, please leave a comment below. Actually, feel free to leave one regardless! I love hearing from you, as always! 🙂

To connect with Søren and to find yourself transported on visual adventures, far and wide, visit:



To purchase the stunning book Vegetar, head here:




Short on time? I empathise! So here’s a short post and a quick recipe.

Yes, I am back with another pizzetta variation. And once again the recipe title probably suggests this isn’t pizza in any traditional sense. But if you’re on the search for something tasty, simple and a little different, why not give it a go? I first made these last year along with a couple of other oat bread “pizzettas” (basically because we had oat bread that required usage!), and by far this recipe was the one most enquired about. So for those who asked, I am happy to oblige… albeit in a rather belated fashion.

Varsågod, as we say in Sweden!

And glad nationaldag to all my Swedish friends and relatives who had a lovely day of sunshine to enjoy on this public holiday!

❤ Marisa

PS If you happen to use the same brand of oat bread I did, it comes in triangles. Ready-made pizza slices, in other words! 😀


Serves: 4

6 tablespoons red pesto
8 Swedish oat bread triangles (or 4 medium-sized flat breads)
4 new potatoes, parboiled (peeled if you like)
A pinch of dried rosemary
A pinch of thyme
Organic olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste
Lemon juice
A couple of handfuls of fresh rocket/arugula


150 g marinated sun-dried tomato halves in oil* (approx. 24)
90 ml oil reserved from jar*
A handful of basil leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
30 g pine nuts (approx. 5 tbsp)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp white/red wine vinegar


Blitz all ingredients in a small food processor until desired consistency is reached.

*If not using sun-dried tomatoes in oil:
Cover 24 sun-dried tomato halves with boiling water in a medium-sized bowl and let soak for around 20 minutes. Replace garlic powder with 2-3 cloves chopped fresh garlic and add 100 ml olive oil plus salt to taste to the mix with all the other ingredients listed above. Blitz all ingredients in a small food processor until desired consistency is reached.


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (fan).
  2. Spread pesto evenly over bread of choice.
  3. Slice the potatoes ¼ cm thick and lay them on top of the pesto. With a silicon brush, coat the potato slices lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with a little rosemary and thyme.
  4. Cook in the oven until the potatoes have started to brown and crisp at the edges and appear fully cooked through (if sliced very thin, they will have a translucent quality).
  5. Remove from oven, scatter over fresh rocket, squeeze over a little lemon juice and serve.


GRILLED NECTARINE & AVOCADO PIZZETTAS (and some reflections on anxiety)

As summer creeps back in (thank you, Sweden*!), it’s time to celebrate with family, friends and perfectly summery festive food! These pizzettas are a take on my popular Nectarine & Avocado Toasties of a couple of years back. Made simply with Mexican pita breads and cashew cheese, they’re a light, simple lunch or wholesome addition to your party table or BBQ.

On the topic of wholesome food and living, I am currently in the process of a cleanse (detox, if you will). As a result my brain is a little foggy, my skin is atrocious and at times I question why I am doing it at all. But with Oliver slowly weaning himself, my hormones out of whack, finally starting to bounce back after months of intermittent perinatal anxiety, and yet another change of timezone and climate now that we are back in Sweden, I find myself craving total recalibration.

There are a few things I am doing to address this. A cleanse is one, and others include daily meditation, writing ‘morning pages‘, daily yoga (albeit just 10 minutes some days), daily movement in some form for 60 minutes, baths, reading a book instead of having screen time before bed, limiting time on social media/responding to email. It really seems to be working already. And despite the fact that Oliver is still breastfeeding on demand during the night, my overall amount of sleep has increased… as has the quality.

I have finally finished reading two books that are now rather dear to me: Marie Kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up and Sarah Wilson’s first, we make the beast beautiful. I don’t know if these books came into my life at this time as a result of need – a student is willing, teacher appears kind of scenario – or whether I would have read them regardless of anxious status (probably the latter). But the fact is that both books have been a huge help. Firstly, I see clearly that I am not alone in my feelings about “stuff”/my home as a sanctuary/my anxiety as a gift-curse conundrum (but ultimately a gift). Secondly, being presented with suggestions for actionable strategies to deal with everything from clutter overwhelm to emotional overwhelm is fabulous for a person like me who loves a challenge (and also has tendencies towards analysis paralysis if left to my own overthinky devices).

Half way through first, we make the beast beautiful, back in
our friend’s beach house in South Australia


I won’t dwell too much more on this now, but I do hope to write further posts with retrospective reflections when I am on the other side of processing this remarkable/challenging/beautiful little hump in my life.

❤ Marisa xx

*It was literally snowing here two weeks ago and I don’t have words to describe how that makes me feel!



Serves: 2-4


4 small thick pita breads (or flat bread of choice)
2 large ripe avocados
2 ripe nectarines
A handful of fresh rocket/arugula
1/2 a lemon
A pinch or two of dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for griddle pan


250 ml raw cashews (soaked for at least a few hours, then drained)
80 ml water (extra if needed)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the cashew cheese by blending all the cheese ingredients in a food processor or high power blender until a smooth, cream cheese-like texture is achieved.
  2. Heat a griddle pan over medium high heat.
  3. Slice each nectarine into wedges (approximately 14 per nectarine depending on size).
  4. Cut the avocado in half, use a butter knife to cut slices of avocado of an even width, then use a spoon to scoop the avocado flesh out.
  5. Add olive oil to the griddle pan and place nectarine slices onto it in rows. After a couple of minutes check to make sure they have griddle marks, then flip them over and continue cooking for a minute or two on the other side. Remove from pan and set to the side.
  6. Repeat the process using the avocado slices.
  7. If desired, toast pita breads.
  8. Spread each pita bread generously with cashew cheese.
  9. Arrange nectarine and avocado slices on top of the pita breads, season to taste and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Top with rocket. Dress with a squeeze of lemon.
  10. Serve immediately.

*The gorgeous little plate you see in the top corner is the work of my friend Kate Kneipp. Her pieces are truly sublime!



FAMILY FARM STAY REFLECTIONS FROM BACK 2 EARTH, SHOALHAVEN (+ cashew yogurt breakfast pizza recipe!)

*Post update, June 2017* The Rescued Animal Adoption Program at Back 2 Earth is now live. I am very grateful to have been a small part in its conception and I wish Marc, Jenny and animal rescuers/advocates everywhere the very best. To get to know the animals, donate or get involved head here: https://back2earth.net.au/adopt-an-animal/


After exceeding 2000 km of cross-country car travel, I arrived in Berry on the 21st of March, travel-weary, newly on antibiotics and still very much under the weather. My travel companions – my husband (aka Designated Driver), hungry one year-old Oliver, plus Louie and Lillian – were, like me, rather keen to stretch their legs after hours on the road en route from Kariong. Pulling in at Back 2 Earth, we were immediately struck by the tranquility of the place. I think I may have audibly sighed with relief. The pups who enthusiastically bounded over to greet us did nothing to disturb the serenity. In fact, they added to the pleasantness of the warm welcome we received from Jenny and Marc.

Having spent so many days on the road, staying in many places merely overnight, I was beyond tired. Hence my body was unable to fight off whatever it was that I’d come down with in Sydney and, after over a week of pushing on regardless, I conceded surrender and found myself in a doctor’s office in Newcastle. Antibiotics were prescribed (as I knew they would be). And so was rest. We had originally planned to stay just one night at Back 2 Earth. My exhausted body said “Stay for two!”, and once my body and brain reached a consensus, it felt right to extend our visit. Oh, the relief of having a place to call home for more than a night.


And what a place! I was delighted to find our self-contained cottage style B&B accommodation was generously appointed and featured a comfy open plan living and dining room, a separate kitchen (complete with all cutlery/crockery/mod cons) and several other features just perfect for a motel-weary family. The large bedroom was furnished with a comfortable queen bed and the children had a cosy bunk bed to share. The bathroom was a welcoming amalgamation of homely comfort and day spa. The veranda was the perfect place from which to greet the morning. And though it was too warm to justify using a log fireplace, I imagine reading a book in front of it would be a wonderful way to relax at the end of a leisurely day.

There are three accommodation options for visitors – all with gorgeous veranda views of Berry Mountain and the paddocks – including the Cozy B&B where we resided as a family.

Aside from the high standard of accommodation, there are some offerings that make Back 2 Earth rather unique in the realm of farm stays. The first is that the farm animals are not “working” farm animals, but rather rescued animals for whom the farm is a sanctuary and a “forever home”. The second is that Marc and Jenny continue to practice their respective pre-farm professions from specially designed buildings on the farm, meaning that Back 2 Earth is a farm meets holistic health retreat, where float tank experiences, massage therapy and psychotherapy sessions are all on offer for those who are interested.

Not only does the 5-acre farm produce its own organic fruit and vegetables, but the entire operation is run on the principles of sustainability, environmental awareness, zero waste and self-sufficiency. And it’s all the more impressive considering Marc and Jenny created it all themselves in an ambitiously short period of 3 years!

Exploring the farm in the rain

One thing that I love about the manner in which this particular farm stay operates (we have glamped on organic farms before in the UK), is that guests can design their own experience. From romantic getaway, to health & wellness retreat, to an opportunity to introduce your children to farm life and animal care/welfare, the experience of staying at Back 2 Earth can be… well, just what you want it to be!


If you hang out on this blog for the food content, you will no doubt be curious about the culinary aspect of the Back 2 Earth experience. The main thing to note is that the catered option is raw vegan. And whether or not you are familiar with raw vegan cuisine, you are in for both a surprise and a treat. Aside from the catered packages which can be tailored to suit your needs (we had one dinner and two breakfasts plus snacks), the self-catering option is generously complemented by the guest harvesting allowance; teas and vegetables can be picked fresh from the gardens for personal use!

Fresh fruit & veg juice to start the day

Marc is the chef on-site, responsible for most of the dishes and recipes that leave the farm’s strictly vegan kitchen. Aside from teaching interested guests about farm life, Marc also runs raw food workshops which can be tailor-made to suit specific areas of interest or health/dietary needs. My workshop included recipes and demos (plus hands-on experience for myself and the children) for raw burgers, cashew cheese dip, raw yogurt, golden milk turmeric chai lattes, choc mint pralines (with amazing raw mint fondant), and more! And yes, I did get to sample everything!

Raw food workshop

I asked Marc and Jenny how they came to adopt the raw vegan lifestyle. They explained that, while traveling in the U.S., Marc began to suffer from debilitating diet related illness. At some point in the trip after Marc had required a period of bed rest, they found themselves in a raw food café. Browsing through the book collection, they became engrossed in the vegan lifestyle-related literature. By the end of that day, they’d worked their way through several books and decided to embrace raw veganism. They haven’t looked back. And I am happy to report that all is well on the health front for Marc these days too.

If you are labouring under a misapprehension that eating raw food equates to subsisting on salads of leafy greens, rest assured the food at Back 2 Earth is anything but boring; think cashew yogurt unicorn smoothie bowls, coconut granola, 3-layer smoothies, bloomed wild rice stuffed tomatoes, spirulina crackers, golden milk lattes, organic fruit platters and dehydrated apple & cinnamon birds nests. Families visiting the farm with kids in tow may well discover what we did. Our little foodies were delighted by some of the most interesting, whimsical and inspired food we’ve eaten since we left Sweden… and it all happened to be 100% refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free and plant-based (I think Marc is part chef, part magician 😀 ). The vibrant, nutrient-dense & delicious catered raw food options at Back 2 Earth are available at an additional cost if desired, and some are included with special accommodation packages.

3-layer fruit smoothie

Incredible breakfast spread for the whole family



If there’s anything that will snap you out of an under-the-weather-melancholy funk, it’s fresh air, good food and a big old dose of perspective. On my second morning at the farm, I walked out onto the verandah to witness the sun rising over the farm. Playful puppy, Squishy, bounced around excitedly by my feet. At the recollection of his story (just weeks before he’d been left to die in a trash can), tears sprang to my eyes. I consoled myself by watching him happily tiring himself out, knowing that he’d found not only rescue but a love-filled home, thanks to Marc and Jenny.

A tuckered out little Squishy

Marc led me to the building that houses both the massage area and the float tank room. He explained the mechanics of the float tank process, such as wiping the glass area above your face with a wash cloth to avoid salt water dripping down.

Although the physical aspects of the float tank process are easy to relay (step in, wipe glass, close hatch, etc.), the internal process I went through during that hour is still very difficult for me to articulate. If you’ve ever had issues “sitting with yourself” then it may well bring some things up for you…. much like silent meditation, but intensified. For an hour I floated with myself, mostly in silence. I swung from finding myself in what I would describe as a semi-relaxed state to borderline anxious. As I watched my many (many, many) thoughts come and go, my body felt weightless, but my heart felt heavy. I felt claustrophobic, not because of the tank itself, which is surprisingly roomy and a very pleasant temperature, but rather because I was bombarding myself with “my stuff”; my thoughts, self-imposed obligations, insecurities.

As I bobbed on the surface of that incredibly salty water, my emotional stuff rose to the surface of my consciousness. And you know what? It is fine that it did. In fact, it is good that it did. The distractions and to-do’s that I often find myself wading knee-deep in prevent me from being with me. Or rather, just being. Anxiety starts to flare up as a result. And some of the best ways I have found to restore the equilibrium are to slow down, to sit with myself, to feel, to be in the moment… and, when all else fails, to cry.

As much as I found the experience confronting, I also found it healing in a kind of uncomfortable “break through” kind of way. The ol’ spiritual-awakening-in-the-form-of-a-rude-awakening scenario, that I am all too familiar with! At one point right near the end of the experience, I had to open the hatch a crack. There was just too much “me” in that space. I thought about all the people out there who naturally “get” relaxation. People who fall asleep on massage tables (what? Are you kidding me?)… or in float tanks. I am fairly certain we are wired differently. Or maybe I just have a ton of work to do on myself before I get to that point. Or maybe it’s not about work… maybe it’s about surrender. Or something.

The music that signalled the final stretch of floatation time began to play and I felt relieved. My session ended, I stepped out of the float tank, showered, changed, paused briefly to examine a crystal in the room (wondering if I’d receive some magical healing benefit by osmosis) and left the building. Marc met me outside and asked me how I had found the experience. I opened my mouth to answer that I’d found it “challenging”, then promptly burst into tears. At this point I feel I need to add that my husband – who, on any given day, is likely to be balanced emotionally without any concerted effort – loved the floatation experience, not because it revealed anything to him, but rather because it was thoroughly relaxing! In an understanding in manner, clearly unfazed by my tears, Marc nodded and explained that emotions can indeed surface as a result of the experience. My understanding, however, is that many (if not most) people, will experience what my husband did: serenity and deep relaxation.


Feeding the rescued animals was of course a highlight (and something the children still talk about now), but there is a lasting impression made too by the stories of the animals and how they came to live at Back 2 Earth.

The farm began with Marc and Jenny’s dream “to live a life based on kindness and compassion, to heal our health and to have as little footprint on the environment as possible”. From that initial spark of inspiration came a farm, a raw vegan, organic health retreat, farm stay and an animal sanctuary… which is now home to 75 animals!

One such animal is Alphie. As robust, friendly and somewhat mischievous as he is today, Alphie didn’t always feel so spritely. In fact his journey to the farm started with a horrific accident, when the gate of a speeding truck he was being transported in (along with many other baby goats), flew open. Alphie was one of the survivors but required medical care and rehabilitation, after which he was shuffled from home to home before finally finding love and stability at the farm.

Cheeky Alphie was a favourite

Jasper and Puddles (horse and donkey respectively) were rescued as a duo. Jasper had suffered abused as a young colt and, as a result of being beaten on the head and otherwise mistreated, he arrived at Back 2 Earth just a few weeks ago, skittish, dishevelled and dirty. Now well-fed, loved and housed with his good friend Puddles, Jasper is acclimatising to his new home, and each day is a little more curious, friendly, and confident. He finally has a safe home and haven. He finally knows something of human kindness.


I typed the following words on my phone on our last day at Back 2 Earth. As they still ring true in summing up my feelings about our stay, I’ll share them again here…

“The culinary experience here is amazing and it has opened my eyes to possibilities. But beyond that this place has had a profound and unexpected effect on me. As we prepare to leave for our next destination, I feel grateful… both for the chance to rest and recuperate (feeling much better, thank you to my friends who asked) and the wake up call. I want to contribute more to the world through kindness and Back 2 Earth is a fabulous inspiration.

As I sit here and type, I feel both strangely relaxed & slightly overwhelmed by my experiences. To be clear, this place is all about rest & recalibration. There is, however an element of #inspo (for lack of a better term) that provokes a deep emotional response in me. Perhaps it’s Mark & Jenny’s steadfast dedication to the raw vegan lifestyle coupled with an understanding, inclusive stance towards their non-raw vegan guests, some whom are here to heal. Perhaps it’s the fact that they built all of this on a dream, in a ridiculously short amount of time and with no prior knowledge/experience either with raw food or farming. And one cannot help but be moved by the rescued animals at the centre of this story and the new, happy lives they have been afforded as a result of Mark & Jenny’s incredible dedication to the betterment of circumstances for all beings.”

Literally within minutes of first arriving at the farm, my 4 year-old daughter exclaimed, “I want to be in this family!”, and no doubt now we have left she has taken her Back 2 Earth farm stay impressions with her both in memory and heart. I think we all have.

❤ Marisa xx

PS Want the chance to treat yourself and your loved ones to a fabulous Back 2 Earth farm stay experience? Visit me on Instagram for details and you could be the lucky recipient of a 2-night stay for up to 4 people including a delicious raw breakfast in the cozy. Valued at $600 AUD.


Some notes for allergy sufferers: If you’re lactose/dairy protein/gluten intolerant, you are in luck. All the food made here will be suitable for you. My husband is allergic to animals (particularly horses), grass, pollen and some foods, but interestingly had no symptoms during our stay. He did bring allergy medication with him just in case and I would recommend doing the same if someone in your party has allergies. Our daughter, who has very sensitive skin, had a mosquito bite that came up rather nastily on the last day, and en route to our next destination we stopped at the pharmacy in Berry (just 5 minutes from the farm) where the staff were wonderful, advising us on the best treatment for our daughter’s skin. If you have a very serious seed or nut allergy, you should be advised that the catered options at Back 2 Earth probably wont be suitable for you, but self-catering on the farm could be a possibility.

For wellness seekers: From therapeutic and relaxation massage, to Eastern cupping, reiki, floatation tank usage and EFT, there is much to be experienced in the way of healing treatments. Marc is a specialist oncology massage therapist and Jenny is a clinical psychologist who offers individual psychotherapy, couples, parenting and pre-marital counselling onsite for interested parties.

For food lovers: Aside from enjoying the on-site catering options or participating in Marc’s workshops, house made snacks and treats can be purchased directly from the farm or online. The crackers, dried fruit roll ups and gluten-free granola clusters are all delicious, as my family can attest! 😀

For vegans: Welcome home! You will love it here! If you want to know more about the benefits of raw food or the art of cooking it, Marc’s personalised workshops have you covered. You can chat with Marc about your specific areas of interest, or do as I did and allow him to make a few suggestions for your raw food demo that will cover some different bases; sweet, savoury or both.

For omnivores: Welcome home! You will also love it here! In fact, Marc and Jenny find themselves endlessly surprised by the number of people who visit Back 2 Earth and decide to adopt lasting, healthy changes when they return home (for example eating organic food, enjoying meatless Mondays or instituting some other practice as a result of what they have learned at Back 2 Earth about sustainability and wellbeing).

For families: It goes without say that most children will find themselves fascinated by farm life and enchanted by the animals here. The opportunity to be involved in the daily workings of the farm, learning which animals eat what, how to gently approach and interact with animals, and how to care for/feed them is a fabulous hands-on experience for young and old alike.

For couples: Something I wasn’t aware of before we visited the farm is that Marc and Jenny run couples retreats that comprise a host of inclusions, including therapy sessions with Jenny. The purpose of these retreats is to strengthen connection, rejuvenate and reconnect, and I can absolutely see how this offering could be of benefit to any couple, but particularly those whose schedules have made it hard for them to touch base in an emotional way day-to-day.

For groups:
 Back 2 Earth allow groups to utilise spaces on the farm for their own events, workshops and retreats. Catering can be arranged if desired.

For animal lovers: If visiting the farm, the close encounters with the animals will be a highlight, but if you’re keen to be a part of the Back 2 Earth family and contribute to the rescue and welfare of these very special residents, an adoption program is currently being set up. This means that very soon friends of the farm – near and far – will be able to connect with the animals, hear their stories and be part of their healing process.


A recipe by Marc Hammond

We ate these tasty treats for breakfast (‘we’ as in, my entire family, including baby Oliver). And they were so lovely that we found ourselves negotiating with each other over remaining bites and crumbs! I appreciate that some people find themselves unsure about “unicorn food” (or fantasy food), but if you’re curious and looking for an easy, wholesome recipe to try with a touch of whimsy thrown into the mix, this could be the perfect one for you!



Flesh from 1 young Thai coconut
250 ml cashew nuts
125- 250 ml water
2 dried figs (or 1 tsp maple syrup)
½ vanilla bean (optional)


  1. Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender or Vitamix.
  2. To create different colours/flavours, blend fruit* (or superfood powders such as spirulina) with the yogurt mix.
  3. Refrigerate overnight and serve as is, or use to decorate breakfast pizzas or other treats.
  • Purple – blueberries
  • Red/Pink – raspberries/strawberries/watermelon
  • Orange – mango/rock melon/persimmon
  • Green – kiwi
  • Yellow – pineapple




3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup date or fig paste (soak dried fruit overnight and blend to make your own)
Additional dates or figs, chopped
2 apples, peeled and grated
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp maca powder (optional)
1 tsp baobab powder (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients. Measure out approximately 125 ml of mixture, spread and flatten into round circles.
  2. Dehydrate for around 15 hours or until as crisp as desired.
  3. Decorate with organic cashew yoghurt, fruit, coconut or nuts.
  4. Enjoy!

*Our thanks to Marc, Jenny and the animals at Back 2 Earth for sharing their home (+ food and recipes) with us. And though we were treated to this fabulous experience, I gladly and faithfully share my impressions here in gratitude for the wonderful time we had.

*Thank you to the staff at Broadmeadow Medical Centre and Strachans Pharmacy for being so thorough & kind when we stopped by en route to Back 2 Earth.


PEACH & STRAWBERRY MUFFIN BAKED OATS (+ a couple of foodie reflections on Byron Bay)

Firstly, a Happy Easter Monday to all who are celebrating! The recipe that follows below is simple, delicious breakfast treat; one that definitely errs on the side of wholesome in the midst of chocolate-drenched April. Secondly, I apologise in advance if the next few posts I write defy the laws of chronology, but such is life on the road that I can never quite keep up with myself, let alone all the ‘happenings’. As it is, I recently found myself in possession of a punnet of organic edible flowers from Byron Bay. And so, having used them to decorate the very dish I’m sharing with you today, I have decided to start this patchwork quilt-esque series of posts there; on the coast of New South Wales, in hippie-meets-hipster ville Byron.

We left Sweden in January to embark upon a series of adventures that started in Connecticut (I’ll come back to that one) and has led us all the way back to Adelaide again after a road trip loop that saw us cover thousands of kilometers. Literally. Our road trip began in Adelaide, taking us to Hay, then on to Sydney, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, before we even made it to Byron Bay. I will attempt to fill in the blanks at some stage (oh, for the luxury of time and space to write), but for 3 years of my life on Instagram, I dreamed of #ByronBay. More specifically, I suppose, I dreamed of the food I would eat there whilst seated at tables previously occupied by the likes of Sarah Wilson and others who shared their Byron inspo from afar!

So as we approached real life Byron, hungry and in need of caffeine, we headed straight for hipster joint No. 1* (*not its real name) while I browsed the restaurant’s reviews on Tripadvisor. Perhaps it was a mistake, perhaps it was a godsend… I might never know now. But there seemed to be a pattern: “Great food. Rude service”, “Excellent quality of food. Terrible place for children”, etc.

My husband was nonchalant. “If the food’s good, do we care that much?”
To which I responded, “I have too much self-respect not to care!”

I decided to duck in quickly to gauge the “vibe” of the place before committing to hanging around. The menu did look amazing, but lack of seating, the bad reviews I’d just read and the half-smile the woman at the counter gave me when she looked down and spotted my daughter standing with me sealed the deal. We were out of there, and onto a distinctly non-hipster venue, Byron Corner Store.

Toasted sandwiches, veggie burgers, smoothies, good coffee, friendly smiles, sharing long tables with strangers in an unpretentious setting… what’s there to complain about, really? The prices were reasonable, the grilled veggie sandwich and the veggie burger were tasty and unfussy. The kids seemed happy with their fare too. Yes, I may have preferred some quinoa + salad type of meal over something bread-based, but it was more than passable and worth it for the chance to feel relaxed about eating lunch out with our 3 young children.

Veggie burger at Byron Corner Store

I was glad we didn’t stay at venue No. 1. There may have been a time in my life when I went to night clubs/bars/restaurants and put up with whatever the standard of service/friendliness (or lack thereof) was because it was “the place to be”. But I have a very low tolerance for that stuff now, especially when my kids are in tow. If I eat out, I expect good food and friendly service. There’s no place for attitude in customer service, in my opinion. Especially in the hospitality industry!

And that brings me to Folk. Two amazing east coast girl bosses brought me there: Louise, from We Print Nice Things and Amanda from Probioskin, with whom I had scheduled consecutive meet-ups. Pitching itself as being “organic, ethical, plant based”Folk Byron Bay ticks a whole lot of wholesome boxes before you even glance at the menu. Located on Ewingsdale Road, adjacent to the Discovery Holiday Park, it’s a foodie hub set away from the main Byron thoroughfare that attracts locals and the transient Byron population alike. Upon arriving, I was immediately struck by the lack of seating space. People were spilling out onto the lawn and most of the tables were occupied by groups of backpackers who didn’t seem to be consuming anything at all, but rather merely waiting around listlessly. Louise arrived, remarked that Folk is not ordinarily so busy and, right on cue, a table was vacated and we had a quiet nook in which to sit and enjoy a coffee.

I almost became teary with happiness when I read the menu. Though the options are few, the food is absolutely my kind of food (as in, I’d eat it everyday if I had the means and time). The prices are far better than I would expect of similar meals in such an establishment, especially when comparing them to the prices we paid for stock-standard, far more pedestrian veggie meals elsewhere on the east coast and well-known cafés attracting a similar patronage in the major Australian cities we’ve visited. I was fond of the understated rustic charm of the place… the copies of Lunch Lady magazine left on tables, the macramé touches, the wooden bowls. The coffee, as promised by many a favourable review, was good. The music was not obnoxiously loud and, when the backpackers started to disperse, the space was even more subdued and there were tables enough for the lunch crowd.

And – hallelujah! – the staff were very friendly.

Louise departed and I was joined shortly afterwards by Amanda who brought a care package of gorgeous, lovingly crafted organic Mayella wellness products with her; a timely gift, given my under-the-weather state (little did I know I’d end up in a doctor’s office in Newcastle the very next day!). It was a muggy, sweaty day and the refreshing organic hibiscus iced tea with lavender, citrus and ginger was just the thing to accompany lunch. Without much deliberation we ordered the nourish bowl and the purportedly ever-popular Folk burrito. The nourish bowl changes seasonally, I believe, but the one I had included brown rice, quinoa, raisins and cumin roasted pumpkin. I opted to skip the haloumi, but it’s offered as an additional extra. The menu comprises a tasty selection of wholesome, vibrant dishes, and even the carnivores among the patrons are sure to find something appealing.

Hibiscus Iced Tea at Folk Byron Bay

Nourish bowl

When I met with Sarah Wilson and Jo Foster for breakfast in Sydney recently (go on, pinch me!), I mentioned that my Byron Bay memories of “darker days” amount to nothing more than a hazy recollection of being perched on the edge of a roadside gutter eating “veggie nachos” (which back then meant corn chips with a bit of cheese). I was on tour with the band that I’d found myself in and the entire east coast experience of that time is a bit of a blur, to be honest. But I am happy to report that my culinary experiences of Byron (and my east coast travel experiences in general) this time around far surpass those of my past! 😀

I have meandered long enough back to the organic edible flowers from Byron Bay that I mentioned at the start of this post. And so, as Sweden embraces frosty spring in hopeful anticipation of summer, and in Australia the days are getting milder (I can’t bring myself to write ‘colder’ as 29°C is hardly that, but it’s relative I suppose!), this breakfast dish is a humble ode to changing seasons.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Easter weekend if you’ve celebrated… and I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe if you try it!


Serves: 2


250 ml gluten-free oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
200 ml cashew milk (or plant milk of choice)
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
6 large strawberries, chopped
1/2 a peach, chopped
50 ml flaked almonds


Extra strawberries and peach slices
Edible flowers
Coconut yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan) and lightly grease 2 large ramekins/oven safe jars (350 ml capacity each) with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add wet ingredients – minus fruit and berries – and mix to combine well.
  4. Gently fold the fruit and berries into the porridge mix (you can anticipate jammy fruit pockets to form as your oatmeal muffins bake).
  5. Spoon porridge mixture into ramekins/jars and top with flaked almonds.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency (a longer baking time will produce a firmer set).
  7. Let stand for a few minutes (the ramekins/jars will be very hot at first), then top with a scoop of coconut yogurt, extra fruit, and fresh, edible flowers if you like. The baked porridge pots be kept covered in the fridge (after cooling) for at least 3 days, and make a wonderful, portable breakfast treat.

* If you like this recipe, check out the one it is based on; my Sweet Potato Pie Baked Porridge Pots!

**Heading to Byron? Check out Folk Byron Bay at Lot 1, 399 Ewingsdale Road, Byron Bay for wholesome, delicious meals (at a surprisingly budget-friendly price point) in a charming locale. For simple yet tasty sandwiches, coffee and such, check out Byron Corner Store at 47 Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Folk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


At this time last year, I was being transferred from the delivery ward to the maternity ward at SÖS. That’s right; Oliver (aka Baby Marzipan) has just turned 1. I could cry. Oh, wait. I already have! 😛 We’re celebrating the big baby milestone in Australia… in 36°C heat (thank you, Adelaide)! And there couldn’t be a more appropriate and refreshing centrepiece than a cake made entirely from the fruit of the season.

I had intended my next ultra-belated blog post to be about an event in snowy Sweden, or perhaps our more recent trip to wintry Connecticut. Truth be told, there are several posts I have drafted that are awaiting publication. However this one was pushed to the front of the queue for what I assume are obvious reasons. So summer + Australia + baby milestone celebrations + current news + fruit it is.

To the cake. Firstly, the concept is not original. Actually, I first saw a watermelon cake pin several years ago on Pinterest (this one from Instructables, I believe), but I was keen to avoid lashings of sweetened whipped cream and the ice-cream suggested for serving, partly because my kids enjoy fruit just as it is, and partly because I just want to keep it simple. Not having to deal with melting ingredients in sweltering Adelaide heat is one less #momlife issue to deal with during a 1st birthday party.

The watermelon cake is one of those novel ideas that, since I first saw it, I’ve thought might be fun to try out/customise at some point. And when we came across a perfectly sized organic baby watermelon at The Marketshed on Holland on the weekend, I knew the time was nigh. Add to this the roaring success that was Oliver’s first taste of dragon fruit at About Life in Crows Nest (on another recent Aussie adventure), and a fruit cake – or rather, a cake made entirely of fruit! – seemed to cater perfectly not only to the current climatic conditions, but also to Oliver’s tastes.

Hopefully this highly customisable take on cake will cater to your tastes too!

Much love to all of you from sunny Australia to wherever you happen to be!
❤ Marisa xx




One watermelon of size of choice
(ours was around 3 kg)

Fruit and berries of choice
(We used:
1 kiwi fruit, sliced thinly
1/2 a pink grapefruit, sliced thinly
1/4 dragon fruit
A piece of rock melon
A few strawberries
A few raspberries
A few blueberries
A couple of mint sprigs)


Lime wedges or passionfruit pulp for serving


  1. With a large, sharp knife, cut the both ends off of the watermelon.
    The size and shape of the watermelon will determine how much you have to remove in order to eventually end up with a cake-shaped cylinder, but we had to remove around 4 cm from each side.
  2. Stand the watermelon upright, using one of the flattened ends as a base.
  3. Use a bowl or cake tin of a suitable size as a guide. Place it on top of the watermelon and, using a small sharp knife, draw a line just inside the circumference of the rind. This will help you determine how much to cut away and still maintain an even shape.
  4. Using a larger sharp knife, cut the rind away in increments, tuning the watermelon, cutting some more rind away and continuing around the whole circumference until the rind is removed and you are left with a cake-shaped watermelon cylinder.
  5. Move the watermelon cake to a cake stand/plate.
  6. Decorate your watermelon cake as you please, simply piling berries on top for an easy option, or slicing some fruit and arranging something a little more elaborate (as pictured below).


  7. Using cookie cutters to create some shapes (à la Taline Gabriel of Hippie Lane fame) creates a pretty alternative to the plastic/fondant/chocolate /candy decor that customarily adorns children’s celebration cakes. To make them stand in the cake, I used skewers and tooth picks; easy to remove before serving slices to little guests and easy to cover if desired by strategic threading of blueberries.
  8. To serve, simply slice the watermelon cake as you would any other cake, pop it on a plate and enjoy!




PANCAKE CAKE (with whipped coconut cream & banana)

As I sit here and type these words, I find myself feeling nostalgic about last Christmas already. Less than a month ago, on Christmas Day, my family and I enjoyed this very Pancake Cake as part of a lazy brunch that lasted literally half the day.

24 days into 2017 and aspects of my New Year’s vision board are already unfolding before me, with travel featuring prominently as we get set to embark on a 3.5 month (at least) journey that will take us from Stockholm via Amsterdam to Connecticut, then onto LA… before my feet eventually touch Australian earth again in beautiful Sydney. I am feeling rather emotional at the prospect of connecting in person with some people who have been very supportive and dear to me from afar and reuniting with family and close friends who are ordinarily separated from me by oceans. I look forward to having some time/space to process things (both internal and external), to spend time with my family on the road and, in essence, to examine what “sparks joy”… and grab it with both hands!

But before I am able to share some of those yet-to-be-experienced experiences with you, I will share this recipe and the simple assembly technique (which was created on the fly with the ingredients we happened to have at home on Christmas Day).

If you have a favourite pancake recipe or different toppings on hand, by all means check out the video below for construction tips and experiment with this idea. And let me know if you do!

I hope your year has started beautifully, that your resolutions are going strong (if you made some!), and that you and yours are happy and well.

❤ Marisa xx



with whipped coconut cream, toasted coconut,
banana, pecans & cranberries


To make 8 thin pancakes

(use this recipe or a favourite one of your own)

200 ml organic flour
2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup
1/2 tsp baking powder
200 ml cashew or other plant-based milk
1 tbsp organic olive/melted coconut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of salt
Extra oil for greasing the skillet pan


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine ingredients without over mixing.
  2. To a skillet pan over medium-high heat, add approximately 45 ml of pancake batter.
  3. Cook for around 2 minutes or until centre is bubbling and edges appear well set. Flip pancake with a spatula.
  4. Cook the reverse side for a further minute or until cooked through as desired. Repeat until batter is used up and you have 8 pancakes of an even size.


To make Pancake Cake


8 thin pancakes of choice
2-3 ripe bananas (depending on size), sliced
125 ml toasted coconut flakes
165 ml whipped coconut cream
Cinnamon for dusting
A handful of dried cranberries or fresh berries of choice
Extra toasted coconut flakes for a final sprinkle
A handful of pecans or nuts of choice, chopped


  1. Once pancakes have cooled, place one on a plate & spread with 2 tablespoons of whipped coconut cream.
  2. Add a layer of banana slices and top with a second pancake.
  3. Repeat the process, this time adding a sprinkle of toasted coconut before topping with the next pancake.
  4. Repeat, alternating between coconut & banana layers until all pancakes have been used.
  5. Top with approximately 4 tablespoons of whipped coconut cream, chopped pecans, berries and more coconut, then dust with a little cinnamon.
  6. To serve, simply slice as you would a cake.