2017: LET’S DO THIS & DO IT WELL! (my annual visualisation mood board)

In amongst the cooking prep in our brand new place, the study (new for 2016), the content creation work (also new for 2016) and being with all three children (yep, another gift of 2016) there’s been one big thing on my mind over the past two days; setting my intentions (or #goals, if you will) for 2017. I don’t think I am alone in feeling as though 2016 was a challenging year! In my case, on a personal level, the year was one of huge circumstantial changes and massive introspection. As a result, despite the many positives that have come my way, it has been exhausting and a little emotionally tumultuous! Let’s just say, I am ready to be done with this year and to move onto 2017, with hopes that it will be more grounded, balanced and even more fruitful than this year… not just for me but for the entire planet! I think we deserve a break from the intensity!

So, to my vision board. You may know by now that I swear by them, and my personal New Year’s ritual (which also includes meditation) would not be complete without the creation of one. You may also notice that my mood board themes are spookily similar. Personally, I don’t find it strange. There are subtle differences, but certain things such as family, food, wellbeing and travel are always going to be important to me… so they’re bound to feature heavily.


From my pre-NYE Instagram post:
“Some last reflections for 2016. I realise I’ve spent much of my life downplaying ‘me’, worried about what others would think of me if they saw it all; my triumphs, my fears, my battles, my talents… the whole package. In my past I often settled for second (or third 😜) best from others whilst knowing I was probably worth more. There’s a saying that you have to teach people how to treat you (something along those lines, anyway). I was a person who was afraid to do just that. Particularly since having children, I have learned some tough lessons about boundaries. One of which is that you will surely get what you are prepared to accept. That’s across the board. As soon as I started saying to myself “Hold up… I deserve better than this!”, I inevitably got better (whatever “better” was in that instance). ‘Yes’ is a powerful word. It opens the way for new opportunities. But so does the word ‘no’. I’m someone who not only grows attached to things, but feels guilt about letting go/letting down/moving on. I see more & more that the BIG #konmari question “Does this spark joy?”, is a question I not only ask of my possessions today, but of *everything*: opportunities, relationships (on all levels), etc. I don’t have the energy nor the desire to keep up pretences in the face of fear of judgement. There’s no reason why I/you/anyone can’t be all that we’re meant to be *unapologetically*… while also encouraging others (who are keen!) to shine their light. And, as I put the final touches on my vision board for 2017, one of the squares in my collage is a quote I found: “Surround yourself with people who get it”. If you’re reading this and you “get it” thank you very much for being here & hanging out with me! And if you’re shining, SHINE ON! Downplaying to make others ‘comfortable’ is a disservice to them, you & the world! 2017, WE GOT THIS👊🏻!”

With that, here’s to the New Year! May 2017 be happy, healthy, love-filled, peaceful and kind (above all things) to all of us!

 MM xx

*Borrowing yet again from my post back in 2012, if you want to create your own, you can do so using images sourced online** and a page layout program such as InDesign or make one using magazine images and ye olde cut-and-paste method. If really pressed for time, why not create a Pinterest board called “2017” and fill it with pins of the things you’d like to see manifest in your life with this coming year?
** Picture credits: In this vision board, I have included images by Elsa’s Wholesome Life, Nourish Atelier, Nectar & StoneLois AveryDonna Hay, Food52, @robineleyartistBarefoot Blonde, The Food Club, Matcha Mylkbar and loads of others (without credits attached, sourced from Tumblr). Please let me know if one of these images is yours so I can credit you! I always try to credit where possible. x

Previous mood boards:

PEPPERMINT & STRAWBERRY CHOCOLATE BARK (a revamped version of an old classic!)

Firstly, much love and warm Christmas wishes to all those celebrating today! Over 4 years ago (I cannot believe it was so long ago!) I posted a recipe on this very blog for homemade Peppermint Chocolate Bark after seeing the famous Williams Sonoma original all over the internet and several variations of DIY “imitations” on Pinterest. Interestingly, the other day I took part in a live chat on Twitter – the theme of which was #barkyeah – with feedfeed, Williams Sonoma and some other food enthusiasts. It reminded me of my long-lost and embarrassingly poorly illustrated “teacher gifts” post featuring my own Peppermint Chocolate Bark… and provided me the impetus to revisit and revamp that old recipe.

Although I can’t compete with the Williams Sonoma bark, it is hard to improve on such a delicious flavour combination. Yet with the aid of my kitchen helpers, Louie and Lillian (aged 5 and 3 respectively), I may have stumbled across a new variation that will please traditionalists and more adventurous eaters alike.

So here it is; Peppermint Chocolate Bark, revisited… with strawberries! Just in the nick of time for anyone looking for a last-minute Christmas treat recipe that can literally be prepped in minutes. 😉

I hope you are having a wonderful, peaceful, happy weekend!
❤ Marisa xx

I dedicate this post, with a heavy heart, to Katherine of Pillows A-La-Mode, one of a few bloggers who I met around the start of my blogosphere journey who supported me (and many others), stuck around and was always about on WP with a wonderful crafty project, great community spirit and a kind word for her fellow bloggers. She will be greatly missed and I send my love and thoughts to her family.




100 g dark chocolate*
100 g milk chocolate*
200 g white chocolate*
2 tbsp crushed freeze-dried strawberries
1 crushed peppermint candy cane

*Dairy-free/refined sugar-free chocolate varieties work just as well as any other!


  1. Line a pan* with baking parchment.
  2. Melt all 3 types of chocolate in 3 separate bowls.
  3. Add the crushed freeze-dried strawberries to the white chocolate. Mix.
  4. Pour the dark chocolate onto the prepared baking pan and smooth out into a rough rectangular shape with a silicone spatula or back of a large spoon, then drop spoonfuls of the melted white and milk chocolate on top. Use a wooden skewer to create swirls in the chocolate.
  5.  Sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces evenly over the bark. Add some extra crushed dried strawberries too, if desired. Chill in the fridge until set, or use the freezer for a super-fast option.
  6. Cut/break into shards to serve. Store unused pieces in freezer.


*I used an IKEA Drömmar pan, dimensions: 37 x 25 x 3 cm



NUT BUTTER BROWNIE TRUFFLE BITES (plant-based, gluten-free & low-fructose)

Call me crazy, but after much deliberation followed by a split-second decision, I started doing PIIT28 last weekend. If you’ve ever heard of Pilates enthusiast extraordinaire Cassey Ho, you probably know what it is. For those who don’t know, it stands for Pilates Intense Interval Training and is a 28-day fitness reboot that’s done in 28 minutes per day. And, yeah… I was a little nervous (it’s tough!). And, yes, it’s Advent (and, yes, I love treats!). But I am at the point postpartum that I want my energy back. I want to feel “myself” again, despite still breastfeeding and even though, after 3 babies in a row, looking like the “old me” is unlikely to improbable. This postpartum period has involved less exercise, and decidedly more cake than my previous two. But I am determined to reclaim a little ‘me’ in my life right now and start prioritising my health again.

Years ago when I used to do 70 minute-Pilates sessions on a regular basis, I felt taller somehow. My core was strong and I rarely found myself hunching over, despite long hours of university study and an otherwise rather unhealthy lifestyle. These days I seem to catch myself in bad posture mode as regularly as I find myself in yoga pants (not doing yoga, mind you 😛 )… and that’s quite a lot.

And so, in anticipation of Christmas and in the spirit of not wanting to deprive myself of treats, I created these little yummies which are to be stored in the freezer (a way to curb the stress eating I have been doing lately). And they are delicious, not-too-sweet and very satisfying!

If you happen to make them, do let me know. And if you are on Instagram, I am hosting a little Advent cooking share challenge, so if you think your festive eats are love-worthy, feel free to use the hashtag #happyhealthyadvent and tag me when you share your Christmassy food creations.

Love, Marisa xx

PS I’ll update on the PIIT28 situation when I have more soon. So far I am 6 days through week 1 and modifying a fair bit.




200 ml nut butter*
1 block (100 g) 85-90% chocolate
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tbsp rice malt syrup (or raw substitute)
3.5 tbsp raw cacao


Cacao/matcha powder, coconut, flower sprinkles or whatever you fancy


  1. Line a small baking tray (13 x 13 cm/5 x 5 in) with baking parchment.
  2. In a ceramic/glass mixing bowl over a water bath (pan with a little water in it) over low heat, combine chocolate and coconut oil. Melt together.
  3. When melted and smooth, add nut butter and mix through.
  4. Add rice malt syrup and cacao. Mix well.
  5. Remove bowl from heat. Tip mix into prepared tray and smooth down with a spatula.
  6. Decorate with sprinkles of choice and set tray in freezer for around 1 hour or until mix is firm and set.
  7. Cut into pieces, store in the freezer and serve cold.


*I used crunchy peanut butter for the ones pictured here, but hazelnut is also fabulous and tahini works too, for a nut-free option.

** Truffles will be very soft at room temperature so do remember to serve them direct from the fridge/freezer.

missmarzipan_nutbutter_truffle_bites4 missmarzipan_nutbutter_truffle_bites4



24 DAYS OF HAPPY, HEALTHY CELEBRATION (cut the stress, get organised & eat deliciously balanced this Christmas)

As I count down to my first Christmas as a mother of 3 in a brand new home that’s barely 1/3 in order, I am simultaneously overjoyed at how blessed I am and, frankly, a little overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of keeping 3 little ones (and myself) in festive mode throughout the month of December.

When winter hit us hard this year (with record snowfall in Stockholm in conjunction with a cold that affected every member of our family), I began to dream up ideas for how I could keep up the Christmas spirit while dialing down the stress. And then, in the midst of my pre-Christmas stress-minimisation musings, Lidl Sverige asked me to partner with them in creating some no-fuss festive recipes in line with their Christmas campaign, the premise of which is making sure no Christmas hero goes unsung (yes, that includes all those of us who budget/organise/pour love into creating an enjoyable celebration for our near & dear ones) while encouraging everyone to join in with the preparations.

So, with this post I am combining both my organisational tips for a peaceful, Advent with healthy, wholesome, budget-friendly festive recipes that can be prepped (with help from the kids) in advance of your celebration!

If we’ve been in touch for a while, you may know that I am an avid list writer with a propensity for taking on way too many commitments than can possibly be sustainable long-term. During 2016, in amongst having a baby, registering my own business (the same week as giving birth, no less 😛 ), selling our old place, moving to our new place and taking 4 separate overseas trips, I also started studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I know that sounds like the decision-making of a mad woman, but there has been some logic to it all… and an important lesson that I have learned as a direct result of taking my course. I have a daily journal that was given to me by my school and with it I am supposed to set a daily intention, writing 3 – yes, 3 as opposed to 333 – tasks to undertake on any given day. It’s been a simple way of taking my list writing down a notch, finding a little more personal focus in the midst of circumstantial chaos, and generally getting back to basics.

I have decided to apply the same keep-it-simple tactic to Advent and Christmas this year. And I will combine this approach with others I believe work too, based on personal experience.


Enjoy the lead-up, not just the occasion itself
This is crucial for someone like me who tends to suffer from pre-event anxiousness! In many areas of my life I am a ‘journey person’ as opposed to a destination one. I would like that to carry over to all areas of my life!

Prioritise experiences over things
For several reasons I believe this is the “way forward”. I don’t believe that any amount of toys/gifts/objects will shape my children more positively than quality time spent as a family having fun will, be it doing simple things such as baking together at home or travelling somewhere on a day trip. Secondly, budget doesn’t have to play such a large role in simple, everyday experiences. A trip to a park is free. As can be a crafting session to recycle things that may otherwise have been thrown out. Christmas is an occasion where the food is in focus, but you can be kinder to your bank balance by buying good quality, budget-friendly produce and cooking at home as a family… and the memory-making possibilities of doing so are invaluable. And on that note…

Get the family involved in preparation
Firstly, it makes it more fun. Secondly, the responsibilities are shared. Thirdly, preparation becomes a fun activity rather than a burden to be carried by one person!

Practice gratitude… and remember what it’s all about
Practicing gratitude has to be one of the easiest methods I use to snap myself out of a negative mind state any day/time of the year. And whether it comes to planning Christmas, a wedding or a party, keeping the core reason for the event in mind can also help stave off anxiety. Recently I spoke at an event about social media (more on that in an upcoming blog post). I am not a public speaker nor am I accustomed to putting myself “out there”, but the event was raising charitable legacy funds. So keeping that in my mind every time it all seemed overwhelming really helped, especially on the night itself (in fact, I was surprisingly calm and centred).

Be mindful of health & balance
Like gratitude, this is always important, but perhaps it’s even more apt to be mindful during a time of busyness, indulgence and (if you live where it’s bitterly cold 😛 ) reduced immunity.



If the things listed above resonate with you, yet you don’t know where to start when it comes to implementing them, I have taken the classic advent calendar model and replaced the “things” (candy/small gifts) that would normally be tucked away with little notes. On each note is an activity, and it is my hope that undertaking these activities will bring me and my family (and you & yours) a happier, healthier, more balanced December.



I have kept each note date-free and there are 16 pre-filled activity notes and 16 blank, making this Advent calendar highly customisable and leaving room for you to include all your personal favourite family traditions. Mix and match suggested activities with your own unique ones, and choose your own days/ calendar dates. In fact, you don’t even need to use an actual advent calendar (but it is rather cute, and fun for the kids to discover the “treat” du jour!).



For each suggested activity there is the easy version, then the super-easy one. I truly want this to be an achievable and fun exercise; the exact opposite of stressful.

For some of the activities, there are links to YouTube videos (click on them directly in the downloadable pdf or in the suggestions list below!). For some of them a recipe or crafting activity is mentioned.

And, to make things even easier for you, in partnership with Lidl Sverige (who have a clear goal of breaking the “Christmas stress” mold this year), I have created 3 simple wholesome recipes that can all be prepped ahead of time to hopefully make your holidays even more balanced and relaxing. And they’re all right here in this very post!


to add to your no-fuss Christmas repertoire

Speckled Gingerbread Cookies

Based on the cookie recipe shared back when my little Oliver was a newborn, these no-fuss homemade treats (and a delicious smelling kitchen) are just minutes away! Make the dough in advance, freeze/refrigerate it and bake cookies as needed (or bake them and then freeze and thaw before serving!).



375 ml almond flour
60 ml tapioca flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground clove
A pinch of salt
¼ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
70 ml maple syrup
3 tbsp speckles of choice (e.g., chopped dried cranberries/cacao nibs/chopped dark chocolate/currants)


Melted dark chocolate
Desiccated coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil and syrup and mix until dough comes together.
  3. If your dough feels particularly tacky/sticky, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to firm up a little, otherwise place it directly on a sheet of baking paper and dust it with a little tapioca flour.
  4. Roll the dough out flat with a rolling-pin (to around a 1/2 cm in thickness). Cut out as many gingerbread cookie shapes from the sheet of dough as you can. Re-form, re-dust and re-roll the excess dough to cut out extra cookie shapes.
  5. Bake for about 8-10 minutes (depending on cookie size and temperament of oven) and allow to cool completely before decorating with chocolate and coconut “sprinkles” if you like. To set the chocolate, place the cookies in the fridge or freezer.



Roast Veg & Buckwheat Salad with Ginger, Tamari & Orange Dressing

Roast the veggies and make the dressing and buckwheat the day before serving. Simply dress and add fresh greens when meal time rolls around.



3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 aubergines, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, cut into 6 wedges
3 tbsp olive oil/melted coconut oil


450 ml buckwheat groats
750 ml water
A good pinch of salt


1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut in thirds
1 clove garlic, peeled & cut in half
2 tbsp olive oil
50 ml tamari
50 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (approx. 1/2 an orange)


Finely chopped herbs (such as parsley and chives)
Mixed fresh greens (such as rucola and baby spinach)
Pomegranate arils from half a pomegranate
2 tbsp pepitas


  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (fan).
  2. Line a deep baking tray with foil/baking parchment.
  3. Add chopped aubergine and sweet potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle over oil and give the bowl a shake to coat the vegetables evenly.
  4. Tip veggies into the prepared tray and pop it in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until veggies are nicely roasted with edges caramelising/turning brown.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare buckwheat. Rinse buckwheat groats in a sieve under running water. Add to a large sauce pan with the water and a pinch of salt and allow to cook over low heat for around 20 minutes or until groats have cooked through and water is absorbed. Once done, remove from heat and allow to cool. Can be stored in the fridge or freezer prior to use.
  6. While the buckwheat is cooking and the veggies are roasting, prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small jar. Firmly screw on the lid, give the jar a good shake. Set to the side. Dressing can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. Note: the large pieces of garlic and ginger should be removed from dressing before serving (they are for infusing, not eating!).
  7. When ready to serve the salad, spoon buckwheat onto serving dish, top with roasted veggies, dress with half the dressing (reserve the rest for people to add extra as they like) and top with fresh greens, herbs, pomegranate arils and seeds.
  8. This dish can be served hot or cold. If hot, simply warm up the buckwheat and roasted veggies and top and dress as above.



Try serving this salad alongside veggie Swedish “meat”balls.
You can make your own (here’s an old recipe) or purchase organic ones such as these from Anamma.


Leftover salad? Perfect lunch-in-a-jar fare!


2-Minute Festive Warm Muesli

serves 4-6

Make the basic muesli mix the night before (or hack it and just blitz 600 ml organic fruit & nut muesli in a food processor!). In the morning, simply pour over hot milk of choice and top with leftover sweet treats, for a no-waste, no-fuss festive breakfast.
Tip: if you made the previous two recipes you should have a selection of things (e.g., cookies, cranberries, pomegranate arils, orange and dark chocolate) to spare. These little bits and bobs make for the perfect toppings for your oats.



400 ml of oats
100 ml dates/golden raisins/dried apricots
100 ml almonds
80 ml desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground clove


  1. Blitz all ingredients (or 600 ml fruit and nut muesli) in a food processor to combine and reduce to a coarse crumb consistency.
  2. Store mix in an airtight container.
  3. When ready to serve, for each 100 ml serving of muesli mix, heat 250 ml milk of choice (I prefer oat, almond or cashew) .
  4. Pour milk over blitzed muesli mix, stir and top with treats of choice.
  5. Serve immediately.

I hope you find this post useful in some way. And I hope you feel as I do; that a stress-free, wholesome (with organic produce!) and enjoyable December/Christmas period should be the right of every family who wants it that way, not just a privileged, super-organised or wealthy few.

No matter your family traditions, culture or beliefs, I wish you a wonderful, peaceful December and a happy closing to what has hopefully been a happy 2016! ❤

Much love from Stockholm,

missmarzipan_kids_crafting missmarzipan_speckled_gingerbread_cookies2

“Till julens hjältar och alla andra, ta hand om varandra i år. Glöm inte att hjälpas åt. Julen är för alla.”

(To the heroes of Christmas and everyone else, take care of each other this year. Don’t forget to help out. Christmas is for everyone.)



Homemade Overnight Oat Kits

Simple Lavender Salt Scrub (with free printable labels)

Christmas Hot Chocolate Mix in a Jar (with free printable labels)

Frozen Berry Jam (no doubt the easiest, yummiest way to use up frozen berries!)

Vegan Chocolate Snickerdoodles (yummy spice-laced, sugar-coated, crackly-topped cookies)

Frosty Snowflake-Stamped Sugar Cookies (“cheat” your way to a decorated festive cookie without candy, chocolate or icing!)


Mini family yoga session 

5-minute family meditation

Family gratitude list


*As with the majority of ingredients, many of the items (including the clothes we are wearing and crafting materials) are from Lidl Sverige. [side note: aren’t the kids’ Lupilu jumpers adorable? I take credit for choosing them myself 😛 ] Much of what I used to create what you see in this post is organic too, yet I truly feel compelled to share that I was shocked to find the price point for ingredients was typical of (or lower than) many non-organic supermarket items found in other stores. I made it a personal mission to see what I could buy on a limited budget from this famous budget supermarket and was honestly surprised myself to see what was possible to get in terms of both quality and quantity. I have included active links to Lidl Sverige. Using these links will not generate any revenue for me. They are for your shopping convenience, for ease of searching and for transparency of sponsorship purposes only. And, as always, all opinions stated here are genuine and my own. 🙂 


CHOC-MINT MATCHA CRUNCH BARS (with novelty Winterfell wrapper printable)

With literally minutes left to celebrate Halloween here in Sweden, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share one of the most requested recipes I’ve shown previews of on Instagram. Many people mistakenly thought I had purchased a “Winterfell chocolate bar” when I first shared it during #foodofthrones2016, which of course I was rather chuffed about! 😉 But for those of you who’d like to make one yourself, you can download a free printable chocolate bar wrapper here.

And if you’re simply looking for an easy-to-make, last-minute healthier Halloween treat that truly tastes amazing, you’re in luck too!



100 ml unsalted almond butter
4 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup
4 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp matcha powder such as Matcha Maiden
10 drops mint flavoured liquid stevia OR 1/4 tsp mint extract
325 ml quinoa oats (or plain oats)
75 ml crunchy quinoa/bran flakes (or other crisp flake-style cereal)
1-2 tsp cacao powder
40 g dark mint chocolate or plain dark chocolate

TO DECORATE (optional)
Melted dark chocolate of choice
Cacao nibs
Matcha white chocolate


  1. Line a small baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Blitz quinoa oats/oats in a food processor to make a coarse flour.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except for the chocolate and blitz until well combined (a shiny dough should start to form).
  4. Roughly chop/break up the chocolate and pulse blitz in with the rest of the mix to break it up and incorporate.
  5. Pop the mixture into the lined baking tray. Use a spatula or the back of a large spoon to flatten the mixture. Try to create a smooth surface & even thickness.
  6. It shouldn’t take long for the fudge to firm when chilled. To do it quickly, place it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Remove slab from tray, cut as you like into squares, bars or candy-sized pieces.
  7. Eat as is or drizzle with dark chocolate and sprinkle with toppings of choice (such as chopped matcha white chocolate, mint chips and cacao nibs).
  8. If wrapping, cover bars with foil first, then secure your cut out printable wrapper with tape or glue.




Happy Halloween greetings from our little patch of Stockholm!

❤ Marisa xx

WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with featured holistic nutritionist & intrepid traveller, Lana Jankovic



If holistic nutritionist and passionate life-lover, Lana Jankovic, doesn’t inspire you to want to step away from your computer, venture out into the wilderness and embrace whatever comes your way, I am not sure who will. An intrepid explorer, wordsmith and natural by example-style inspirer, it feels pointless to try to sum up in a paragraph how Lana makes her way through the world or her ultra-positive outlook on life and her spectrum of experiences. So I’ve picked just a fragment of one of many captions attached to one of many gorgeous images from Lana’s Instagram gallery:

“Bagged a few summits, chased the most insane sunrises of my life, skinny dipped in glacial waters, met the most incredible humans, had my heart broken repeatedly in the worst/best possible ways, woke up on mountaintops, accidentally got left floating alone in the middle of the Indian ocean, took massive leaps of faith, got dirty, danced around in pleather and blue lipstick in front of a few hundred people, got attacked by a monkey, ran barefoot through the streets of Asia, embraced the crazy adventures, co-piloted a plane through some epic ice fields, hit a few road trips, left my job on a whim, came home to my true nature, refused to settle for anything less than amazing, and raised the bar in every way possible.”

Intrigued? So am I! So let’s meet with Lana and find out more…

Marisa: As a holistic nutritionist, one assumes that you would have some travel-friendly food favourites. Any tips/hacks for travelling and eating well?

Lana: Yes! I pack my own food whenever possible, but to be honest, I’m not fanatical about it. I used to be a lot stricter with what I ate, to the point where it would cause me unnecessary stress and defeat the purpose of trying to stay healthy. Now I stay prepared as much as possible, but often when travelling I just go with the flow and adapt to what’s available around me. In Bali I (gratefully and graciously) ate heaps of local food and fried rice, because that’s what was on offer at the warungs (small, modest family-owned restaurants) around us. I balanced it out with extra water and vegetables when they were available, but didn’t worry about it too much. For weekends away and day trips around here, I’ll pack my own food – apples, homemade granola bars (I find store-bought ones always have questionable ingredients or too much sugar), healthier sandwiches (there’s not that many convenient things you can lug up a mountain for lunch), and trail mix. I’ll buy raw unsalted seeds and nuts, then add raw coconut shreds and my own dark chocolate in rather than the cheaper chocolate that usually comes in pre-made mixes – because what’s trail mix without chocolate, really.

I always suggest that if there’s something convenient to pack that you know you love and crave, like muffins, make a double batch of a healthier version at home and stash ‘em in the freezer so they’re ready to go rather than buying them at some questionable stop on the side of the highway. It’s easier to substitute with heartier, homemade versions of our favourites when first attempting to switch to healthier choices rather than depriving ourselves of everything we hold dear in life, right? When I’m travelling outside of my hometown, if all else fails I can get a simple salad with a basic vinaigrette, some vegetables, and some protein at just about any restaurant. Stick to the basics when possible (focusing on getting in a wide variety of nutrient-dense whole foods), scope out better options around where you’re staying ahead of time so when you get hungry you have a game plan decided already, and just do the best you can with what you’re given so you can feel really good and enjoy your time away. But I mean, sometimes you just need a burger or pie, you know?

Marisa: Are there 5 items you simply cannot be without when on the road?

Lana: All the snacks! Most definitely. I’ve got a thing for dark chocolate, snap peas, and tortilla chips on road trips, so there’s always ample snacks in the backseat. My iPod comes with me everywhere, because what’s an adventure without epic tunes? I basically live in leggings, so you’ll never find me anywhere without ‘em (you can wear the same black leggings to cycle around the city then out to a bar that night, right? #sorrynotsorry). My GoPro is always with me as well – being so small, portable, waterproof, freeze-proof, and basically Lana-proof, it’s been my favourite purchase this year!

Marisa: And what of packing hacks? I may be jumping to conclusions, but you strike me as a woman who knows her way around a well-packed bag!

Lana: Hilariously I’m the worst packer sometimes, as evidenced by my recent attempt to rummage through my backpack with frozen hands for my warm layer wedged right under my sleeping bag and mat, along with literally everything else under the sun {nailed it!}. I do my best to pack the things I’ll need the least or less likely at the bottom and stack up from there, but that system fails me sometimes when I decide that it’s an epic idea to go swimming in a glacial lake and my swimsuit is at the bottom of my bag, ironically right beside my jacket (who swims in 6 degree water anyway? Canadians, I guess). A friend of mine just introduced me to packing cells, which is BRILLIANT, and I’m definitely hopping on that bandwagon stat. When travelling, I pack only things that have multiple uses – all my fashion forward people, forgive me, but I’ll pack leggings that I can wear actively outdoors and can also pull out at night with boots – and not pack too many similar items. Do I really need two basically identical black t-shirts and more than one dressy outfit on a one week trip? Probably not. I’m all about rolling vs. folding clothing as well, it makes it so much easier to economise on space in a suitcase!

Marisa: Somehow, in amongst all your tales of adventure, you manage to weave in themes of self-esteem and body positivism. What motivates you to do this? And do you think that your passion for advocating the emotional health of women influences the way you travel and experience life?

Lana: Such a spicy question, LOVE it! When I was younger, I used to miss out on a lot of life because I was afraid of what others would think of me, often too self-conscious to wear a swimsuit in public or let people see me without makeup. It was easier to cancel plans and stay home, thinking that one day things would be different and only then could I really truly live my life – once I deemed myself more worthy, thinner, more this or that. I struggled with a lot of self-esteem and body image issues, disordered eating and the sort, and I would often sit out instead of getting amongst it and experiencing life to the fullest extent I possibly could. And I don’t want that for anybody. I want to see women (and men!) empowered, healthy, confident, out there in the world doing whatever it is that sets their soul on fire, knowing they have the right to take up space and don’t need to water themselves down for anyone or anything. The world needs more of that.


We live in the age of endless pursuit of perceived perfection, especially in the realm of social media, and it’s chipping away at us. I do my best to fight back as much as I can, posting photos of myself living my life as I actually am – without smoothing over cellulite, editing out rolls of any sort, or worrying about what my hair looks like after 8 hours of hiking. I want to bring the focus back to what our bodies are capable of doing and who we are as humans, rather than what our exterior shells look like. Because you know what would be heartbreaking? Looking back on our life and thinking, damn, I missed out on so much because I felt I wasn’t good enough exactly as I am to show up and claim what’s mine in this world, to share all my talents and gifts, no matter what I look like or how much I weigh. It would shatter you. So I do my best to share transparently, remind people that they’re badasses and can go after whatever they dream of, and bring back a little real-life grounded humanness into the online world. It definitely has influenced my life in more ways than I ever could have thought possible, because sharing all of this and having others come back and say, hey, I’m doing the same and I’m totally onboard with this, just continually inspires me to go bigger, harder, and deeper.

I’ll bookend that with sharing a realization I came to this year that, when we look back one day on all the things we’ve accomplished and the epic things we’ve experienced, we’re going to remember the feelings above all else – the accomplishment, the joy, the awe, the love, the rapture, the trials and tribulations – we’re not going to remember if we weighed 5 pounds more than we wished we did, or if things jiggled a bit while we ran. So always go, and don’t take a backseat on your life waiting for the day when you think you’re worthy of your dreams. You’re worthy now.


Marisa: Right on! Bold (and awesome) statement! And, on that, you’ve made some pretty bold decisions when it comes to exploring the world. Have you ever had any close calls with danger? Care to elaborate on the “monkey attack” referenced in the quote, perchance?

Lana: The most recent one that stands out to me was back in August, when I was hiking Mt. Yamnuska in the Rockies with a friend. What should have been a straightforward hike ended up a bit scary for a hot minute when we accidentally veered off the trail and found ourselves on a rocky downward slope of the mountain, wet after a sudden downpour an hour before. At a certain point we looked around, realized we had gone off course, and that the safest (hah!) way back to the trail on the top of the ridge was, well, straight up. Everything was slippery, and we were free climbing a rock face with no solid hand or foot holds on terrain that probably should have required a rope. I remember clinging to the rock, desperately grasping for the next hold to pull myself up, but every nook I found disintegrated when I pulled on it, sending shards of rock bouncing down the mountain behind me. Listening to the distant sound of rocks falling, it was the first time I was ever truly scared in the wilderness, knowing that if I slipped and lost my footing the way down wasn’t going to be so pretty. The fact that we had only seen 2 other humans off in the distance that entire day also made the fear that much more real. Eventually we made it back up to safety, and the two of us lay down on the ridge laughing off the nervous jitters for a while, thankful we hadn’t ended up in a heap on the bottom of the mountain like the bits of rock we’d sent down. It was a bold and humbling reminder of how powerful mother nature is, and how beautiful yet belittling mountains can be.

As for the monkey debacle, oh my. We were at the Monkey Forest in Ubud, and as we were leaving I saw a little guy playing with an empty aerosol container. Completely forgetting that you’re never supposed to take anything away from a monkey, I attempted to verbally reason with him (as one does with animals, right?) and grab the container from him with my foot. Worst. Idea. Ever. He came after me and lunged for my foot, baring his teeth, and I freaked out and jumped back, trying to run away quickly as he chased me down. Luckily he didn’t get me, but I was mildly traumatized for a few hours after, haha! Not all adorableness and cuddles, those ones, hey?!

Marisa: No, I guess not! It’s actually a fear of mine (being attacked by a monkey, that is 😛 ). And expanding upon the previous question, have you ever second-guessed a decision you’ve made or ended up somewhere in the world thinking, “What am I doing here?”.  And in hindsight, do you have any travel regrets?

Lana: I tend to err on the side of impulsiveness, so there have been many days where I’ve spontaneously ended up running with some wild ideas (understatement of the year). It’s never been in a negative sense though, and I have no regrets about any of it. At the end of the day, even the stickier situations I’ve landed myself in can always be chalked down to an accumulation of experiences. I mean, take for example me clinging to those rocks on Mt. Yamnuska. Sure, a part of me was mentally tapping myself on the shoulder repeatedly to point out how nicely I had messed up, but my rational mind was reminding me, alright, we’re here now, and we need to stay calm, figure this out, and deal with it.

Any regrets I’ve had with regards to travel, people, and experiences could all be boiled down to those times where I didn’t end up doing what I wanted to do for one reason or another. 5 years ago when I had spent 9 months living in Brisbane, I kept putting off visiting Melbourne, Sydney, the Whitsundays, etc. – waiting for better timing, better weather, all my stars to line up, and any other excuse under the sun. My stay in Australia got cut short suddenly, and when it was time to go, it was time to go, regardless of the fact I hadn’t seen all the things I had planned to. I still to this day kick myself for sitting on those plans and not pushing to make them happen while I was there. I think about it often, and it taught me to always go, always do the thing, always get gone. Even if conditions aren’t perfect. Because they never will be.


  • Ski fields or waterfalls? For a Libra who can’t ever make decisions, these questions are ROUGH. I’ll go with ski fields! (But seriously, can I have both?)
  • Food truck or fine dining? Food truck, hands down. Did someone say tacos?
  • Temple or botanical garden? Temple, always.
  • Your favourite destination: Croatia is my favourite place on earth I reckon! But the mountains, oh, they will always have my heart. I’ll call this one a tough tie.
  • Best healthy food spot in Vancouver: I love Tractor, this amazing little café with a salad bar, soups, all kinds of healthy choices for a quick lunch that isn’t fussy. Endless options, whole food goodness, and you can pick and choose exactly what you want and how you want it (again, for a Libra, that’s just brilliant isn’t it?!). Also: their grilled avocado. Next level.
  • Somewhere you haven’t been that you long to visit: I couldn’t even begin to list all the places! Visiting the Yukon and Alaska are high on my list, I’ve been aching to see the Northern Lights. And the sheer amount of untouched wilderness, majestic mountains, and endlessly awe-inspiring landscapes up there? Total dream! I also have heaps more exploring to do locally in our Canadian Rockies and around the PNW. That said, my heart has a soft spot for Europe, especially the Balkans {my motherland}, so I have a feeling I’ll be finding myself back around those parts to explore more thoroughly very soon.

I sincerely thank Lana for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. And I truly hope you enjoyed reading and that you too feel inspired by what Lana shared!

Again, if you have any suggestions for questions you’d like me to ask upcoming health/wellness/travel professionals for this blog feature series, please feel free to let me know. 🙂

To connect with Lana and to find yourself transported on adventures, thoroughly entertained and greatly inspired, visit:

WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with featured travel expert & foodie, Corinne Weijschedé



As someone who has forged a career from ensuring other travellers feel happy, comfortable and secure 38,000 feet above the Earth, Corinne Weijschedé is a consummate expert in all matters plane travel-related. But there’s more to this busy and talented mother of three than meets the eye. A passionate healthy foodie who has made a name for herself sharing real food/no junk vegan treats (read on for an original recipe!), Corinne currently wears four hats, as a devoted mother, flight attendant, singer and cookbook author (the Dutch version of It’s a Healthy Piece Of Cake is in the makings as I type).

If there’s a woman to ask about what it means to explore the world in a balanced, healthy way, surely it’s Corinne. And so I did!


Marisa: It’s commonly touted that staying hydrated when flying is super-important, but what’s your take on this? And do you have any personal tips?

Corinne: I must confess that I’m a poor water drinker, generally. However, when I work I really try to force myself to drink water more often. As you pointed out, nothing on board is so important to stay well hydrated, especially on a long-haul flight.

What I do – and what most of my colleagues do – is set up, from the beginning of the flight, a large bottle of mineral water with lots of lime or lemon slices in it. That way we are constantly reminded that we should drink. In addition, I also drink green tea with lemon slices during my lunch/dinner/break. I can’t help it. I’m mad about citrus fruit! And, between you and me, I think it’s best to avoid consuming alcohol on board. The body handles alcohol less well in a pressurized cabin. In addition, alcohol extracts moisture from your body. Contrary to what most people think, it seems that coffee does not have this effect.

Marisa: The people in your profession always seem incredibly well put together and surprisingly “fresh” even on the longest of long-haul flights. I think the whole world would like to know how this miraculous feat is achieved.

Corinne: Firstly, Marisa, thank you so much for the wonderful compliment. I have to say, I feel a lot better now. 😉 But seriously, those moments, waking up after only 1-2 hours of sleep in the middle of the night with a resulting appearance that’s anything but radiant, are more common than you think.

Things are not always as they seem. It’s a matter of timing. While most of you are still in a deep, semi-comatose state, we are freshening up. Clean, polished teeth, a little mascara and lipstick do wonders. And a little perfume helps as well!

Personally, it’s having fun during work that makes me really glow, I guess. It might sound like a cliché, but to connect with so many different cultures and discover a new parts of the world makes me smile. Maybe that’s the key, actually. A smile is an instant beautifier!

Marisa: I personally suffer from flying anxiety and have done so for years (although I have not let it stand in my way of travelling). Is there any advice you give passengers who struggle emotionally/psychologically with plane travel due to fear of flying.

Corinne: Poor you! I respect the fact that it doesn’t keep you from flying. I know that there are courses that can help in this area. In the short-term, I can suggest taking a calming herbal remedy (such as Valdispert forte). And always tell  the cabin staff. They’re there to help you and to look after you! And please don’t hate me for it, but my advice would again be to not consume alcohol. Some might not agree with me on that point.

Marisa: Oh, I don’t hold it against you! As a non-drinker, it’s not an option in any case. Plus I’d much rather stick with healthier alternatives. And on that subject, you’re a well-known advocate of healthier treats as alternatives to traditional desserts. Do you take any of your homemade creations with you when you fly? Are there any travel-friendly favourites you’d care to share or general healthy ‘flight food’ tips?

Corinne: I make a lot of raw cakes, but they are just not convenient to carry. Sometimes I’ll take oven-baked treats such as slices of banana bread or leftover apple pie. I’m not the type to makes snacks and smoothies in a hotel room. At home I’m always busy inventing recipes, but while travelling the forced “rest” is welcome. I manage very well with what destinations have to offer; fresh unprocessed food. Small, individual portions of chocolate plant-based protein and small packets of plant-based milk travel well. I simply mix them in a glass for a protein shake on the go.

I always carry some raw nuts or organic nut bars with me. And oat cookies are a go-to travel snack. My Big Fat Apple Pie Vegan Cookies are a favourite. Would you like the recipe for them?

Marisa: Yes please! They sound like my kind of treat! Aside from your fabulous cookies, are there 5 items you can think of that you never fly without?


  1. My mobile phone
  2. Comfy in-flight shoes (definitely less sexy than the pair I normally wear around the airport 😉 )
  3. Small personal care products, including my panacea, Absolution La solutionEclat (I apply it over makeup during flights) and a small bottle of my favourite perfume, Clean.
  4. Spare undergarments, e.g., tights & underwear (in case of delays/canceled flights/lost luggage, etc.)
  5. A bottle of organic liquid stevia


Marisa: Expanding upon that point; carry-on luggage. What are your must-haves for extra comfortable travel?


  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent & malaria tablets (prevention is better than cure)
  • My vegan-friendly cotton satin pyjamas
  • My own pillowcase
  • Le Nettoyant Pureté with konjac sponge for cleansing, morning & evening
  • La Crème du Teint tinted nourishing day cream
  • Ahava; Extreme Night Treatment
  • Vitamin B12 tablets
  • Raw nuts and nut bars
  • Reading material
  • My iPad



Beach or mountains? Sorry, I can’t choose! I adore the beach and my most memorable trips have been in the mountains.

Camp or cruise? If sailing counts, definitely cruise! I’ve had wonderful sailing experiences around Croatia, Greece, Elba and Corsica. It’s a bit like camping on water, right?

Day spa or hiking trail? I admit, I love a bit of luxury. However I have no patience for spa treatments and don’t like people fussing over my body. So, hiking trail it is (although it would be quite an ordeal for me!).

Favourite destination for work: South Africa. Iguazu in Argentina and the Taj Mahal in India have also been highlights. And I love New York!

Favourite destination for pleasure: I recently discovered Bali. I could live there. Busy Ubud isn’t my style, but I love it beyond Ubud and on the small islands around Bali!

Best airport in the world: My favorite airport has to be Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Everything can be found there, from fresh fruit & veggie juices to delicious fresh veg sushi. Schiphol almost feels like my second home (poor me!) considering the amount of time I’ve spent there over the past 22 years. Singapore is also very nice, but I don’t know it that well.

Somewhere you haven’t been that you long to visit: I would love to see The Great Wall of China. New Zealand is also very high on my wish list. More than twenty years ago we flew with KLM (the company I work for) to Australia and I’d love to return, both for the beautiful landscapes and the lovely people.



Makes: 8



100 g Inca berries (soaked for 3-4 hours in filtered water)
100 g coconut oil (set aside)

100 g oats
1.5 peeled apples, cut into small pieces
2 bananas, mashed
20 g ground cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pure vanilla powder


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C, fan.
  2. Combine ingredients – minus Inca berries and coconut oil – and mix well.
  3. Melt coconut oil and stir into the mixture to create a loose dough.
  4. Form 8 circles of cookie dough and place onto a baking parchment-lined tray.
  5. Place tray in the center of the preheated oven.
  6. Bake for approximately 17- 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven and gently press the soaked Inca berries into the middle of the cookies.
  8. If they crumble slightly, press them gently back into shape and allow to cool, before resting in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours.
  9. Enjoy!


To connect with Corinne and discover more about her colourful life, her even more colourful culinary creations, visit:


Corinne’s cookbook of simple, vegan-friendly, plant-based treats and breakfast options, It’s a Healthy Piece Of Cake, will be published in Dutch by the end of this year. The English version is expected to follow shortly thereafter!


*All images ©Corinne Weijschedé, quote image edited by Miss Marzipan.

*This post is entirely unsponsored by the brands mentioned within the context of the interview. They are genuinely Corinne’s favourites and I have included some links for those who may be interested.

SLOW-GRILLED ZUCCHINI, a recipe + Sweden’s first vegan cruise menu (this just the start[er])

On the 29th of September I had the pleasure of attending the official launch and tasting of the swanky (and ground-breaking) Birka Cruise vegan menu; purportedly the first vegan cruise menu of any of the Swedish pleasure cruise services.

If you live in Sweden, you are no doubt familiar with shorter pleasure cruises, and M/S Birka is one of a few passenger ships that travels the route between Stockholm and Mariehamn on the island of Åland (some continue on to Helsinki for a 2-night trip). The big draw cards for these mini cruises are:

  • having a convenient mini break
  • the entertainment
  • the facilities (sauna, spa, pool, etc.)
  • the tax-free shopping
  • the views (the Stockholm archipelago is stunning)
    … and, of course, the dining!


Sweden has a particular traditional food culture that is well-known and loved by many, and the ubiquitous meatball, traditional cinnamon bun and buttery new potatoes can all be expected to feature on such cruises. Birka has stated that they are not about to abandon completely every expected/classic dish, however they recognise that both traditional pleasure cruise culture and traditional Swedish culinary culture do not cater well to those with vegan preferences. And they want to address this fact whilst modernising their offering.

On the day of the menu launch, our party of journalists, bloggers and vegetable-lovers congregated downstairs in the Birka terminal at Slussen just after 4pm. Escorted upstairs and onto the ship itself, we made our way to a dining room where we were met by Birka management, chef Maximillian Lundin and glasses of champagne (or sparkling water in my case!). After a short introduction we headed straight into the kitchen or, as I think of it, the hallowed space “where the magic happens”. Aside from tasting the food (it’s no secret that I like to eat!), this was a highlight. To watch the chefs not only prepare the dishes for service, but hear about the process of creating the vegan menu, the rationale behind the project and the various steps involved was fascinating.

Major international and luxury cruise lines have been focusing more on catering to varied dietary needs for some time, but here in Sweden, Birka is the first company of its kind to not only recognise the growing demand for plant-based dining options, but to do something about it by creating a gourmet vegan menu.

Birka’s new vegan cruise menu is the result of a collaboration with Maximillian Lundin (one of my favourite chefs in Stockholm), owner of vegan restaurant, The Plant (one of my favourites eateries in Stockholm), cookbook author and TV chef. Satu Andersson, CEO of Birka Cruises, is a veggie food-enthusiast and was wholeheartedly behind the initiative, and it seems as though the Birka chefs have also relished the creative challenge of taking on a project of this nature.

Asked what he thought of the vegan menu concept when the topic was first raised, chef Glenn Högback (who presented the plating of the starter and dessert) was nothing but positive.

“You felt or encountered no resistance to the initiative?”, somebody asked.

“No,” replied Glenn earnestly. “In fact, everyone was very positive. Meat is meat in many instances, but every vegetable has it’s own very unique character… and that is incredibly interesting to work with.”

There are even more plant-based plans in the works (including the revision of breakfast offerings to include extra vegan options), and the complete Birka 3-course vegan menu is as follows:


Slow-grilled zucchini in smoke-marinade, roasted garlic, white bean cream, grainy mustard,
pickled red onion & toasted poppy seeds
(see recipe below!)

Crispy chickpea pani with dill & cummin Côte d’Or sauce, pommes pavé & creamy braccia salad

Sorbet of raspberry, chocolate cream, cashew nuts, dried raspberry purée & raspberry crisp

missmarzipan_birka_cruises_vegan_menu_launch1 missmarzipan_birka_cruises_vegan_menu_launch2 missmarzipan_birka_cruises_vegan_menu_launch3 missmarzipan_birka_cruises_vegan_menu_launch4

Moving from the kitchen into the dining room, we were presented with material including an outline of the menu, the concept behind it and the three recipes featured. We then had the opportunity to taste the food, meet the chefs and find out a little more about Birka’s plans to expand upon the initiative. Judging by the comments I overheard at my table, others enjoyed the food as much as I did. I must say that aside from the inventive and beautiful food, the thing that really struck me was everyone’s belief and enthusiasm for the project. That was inspiring in itself. Maximillian talked about some of the benefits of incorporating more plant-based meals into daily life (health benefits and environmental impact being just two of them). Then he sat down to have a casual chat at our table. He talked a little with me about how he’d found the collaborative process and how he was looking forward to enjoying the cruise that was departing that very night (perks of the job, and all that 😉 ).

I reminisced about my first trip on the M/S Birka (taken with a girlfriend who I’d treated to a surprise cruise for her birthday) and I heartily recommended an early morning spa visit. I still have fond memories of waking up early and the two of us being the first people in the spa… with the entire outdoor jacuzzi to ourselves. It was late October. Fog hung around the waters of Mariehamn and everything outside was perfectly still and quiet. The air was cold and the warm water was heavenly (is there anything more refreshing than warm water on your body and fresh, crisp air on your face?). We literally floated in that hot tub by ourselves, giggling with glee. Max said he would definitely check out the spa and that he was keen to give the running track a go, enjoying some archipelago views while he was at it.


I had a brief chat with chef Marcus Nordin (creator of the main course) and was able to thank him for being part of the reason my vegan husband was so well taken care of on our last Birka cruise, a special 2-night Gotland trip with a culinary theme. In fact, the plant-eaters* in our party were just as well taken care of as the omnivores among us (who ate from the set menus on the cruise).

Soon after finishing dessert, everyone said their thank yous and farewells. Then we departed, the cruise passengers hopped on, and M/S Birka headed off into the Swedish archipelago.


“It’s about understanding how to cook and season ingredients in the best way to bring out the flavors. I want to introduce modern vegan food to more professional chefs and, at the same time, get more guests to dare to try it. So when Birka expressed interest, I thought it was a perfect opportunity “.
– Maximillian Lundin.

Vegan or not, these are exciting times for the health-conscious, Stockholm-bound/based foodie! On our next Birka cruise, I’ll be sure to test out all the new plant-based offerings onboard and get back to you all with a definitive verdict!

❤ from Stockholm,

Marisa x

*And on that subject, I can also recommend the veggie burgers!



in smoke-marinade, roasted garlic, white bean cream, grainy mustard, pickled red onion & roasted poppy seeds

Serves 4


1 zucchini
3 roasted garlic cloves
100 ml water
1 smoked lemon
80 g white beans
coarse mustard

Sea salt
Olive oil
Blue sesame seeds
100 g red onion
100 ml apple cider vinegar

  1. Slice zucchini lengthwise and pan fry.
  2. Make a marinade of chopped garlic, smoked water, and the juice and zest of a lemon. Add the zucchini to the marinade and leave for 6-8 hours.
  3. Soak and cook the white beans, before blitzing to a smooth puree, diluted with the cooking water, sea salt and fruity olive oil.
  4. Slice the onions thinly and put into äpplecidervinäger.
  5. Serve with a dollop of coarse-grained mustard, watercress, dill and roasted blue poppy seeds. A couple of whole roasted garlic cloves make a wonderful addition.


*Recipe shared with kind permission of the Birka team, including chefs Glenn Högback and Marcus Nordin.

**Please note that I have translated the menu, recipe and quotes in this post, and have tried to do so as accurately as possible.

My modest and slightly more “pedestrian”* version of Slow-Grilled Zucchini, made with what I had on hand (*to pinch a Master Chef Australia term!)




In need of comfort? I can’t guarantee this will make you feel better. And I certainly wont claim it’s better than a cuddle (what’s better than a cuddle for comfort?). But it is nourishing, it is delicious and it is a treat you can give yourself to make your morning a little cosier.


It’s so easy. In fact I came up with this in a matter of seconds when I was pregnant with Oliver, and found myself with surplus Golden Milk Hot Chocolate and a serious porridge craving!

I hope you like it if you try it! I’ll be popping back tomorrow with an entirely different, extra special recipe in conjunction with some fun food-related news.

Until then, happy new week!

❤ Marisa xx



Prep time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1-2 (depending on hunger levels)


250 ml unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp organic cacao
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp organic rice malt syrup (alt. honey) or to taste
1 tsp organic coconut oil

100 ml oats
200 ml water (or unsweetened almond milk)


  1. In a small saucepan, make the hot chocolate by warming almond milk gently over low heat.
  2. Sift in the cacao, turmeric and ginger and whisk. Add rice malt syrup and whisk until combined.
  3. In a separate small saucepan, combine oats and water and simmer over low heat until porridge is cooked, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add porridge to a bowl (on the larger side).
  5. Drop in the coconut oil into the hot chocolate, stir and remove pan from heat.
  6. Pour over porridge and serve immediately.


*This post is dedicated to Nils and his family. Your light shines on, Nils ❤

WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with featured fitness expert, Diana Tencic


Welcome to the first of a series of posts featuring fabulous individuals (some of my favourite people!), their inspiration and insights into some of my favourite subjects: wellness, wanderlust, food and travel! I couldn’t think of a better person with whom to begin this dialogue than long-time connection, friend from afar and I Quit Sugar super-star expert panelist, Diana Tencic of Body Be Well.


A renowned food and fitness coach with over 16 years experience in the health industry, Melbourne-based Diana understands better than most the importance of balancing proper nutrition with a sound, achievable exercise protocol. Setting her apart from some other qualified fitness professionals, Diana’s personal experiences of transformation, healing and bringing three children into the world, have imparted an unusually empathetic aspect to her methodology. With a strong focus on balance, development of practical skills and crowding out unhealthy habits by replacing them with better options, Diana’s coaching techniques not only help her clients achieve their fitness goals, but maintain them. Her kindness, genuine approach and generosity when it comes to supporting others were truly the first things that made an impression on me when we connected via Instagram in 2014. And if you haven’t met her yet, I am thrilled to be the one to introduce you!

Following Diana on Snapchat during her late summer holidays this year, I couldn’t help but notice that she managed to turn every space into a gym of sorts; from a stretch of lawn beside a house, to the beach, and even a children’s playground. And every workout she managed to do with a smile on her face!

Who better to ask for inside information on staying fit, balanced and happy while on the move?

Marisa: For some people, travel means “escaping reality” and that can lead to indulging in certain less healthy behaviours (such as bingeing on unhealthy food or consuming too much alcohol). Any advice for those wanting a more balanced vacation experience?

Diana: You need to have the right mindset before you leave. There is nothing more enjoyable than tasting the cuisine of the area you visit. Allow yourself a piece of a cake, however create food harmony and include a nutritionally dense meal during the day too. And consider walking the area to include movement in your day. I like to Google restaurants in the local area or supermarkets in the area before I go. That way I’m more inclined to make better food choices by knowing what is available. I also make sure I have a kitchen if I’m booking a family holiday.

Marisa: And what about those who strive to live well, but fall off the proverbial wagon? What do you suggest to your clients and/or practice yourself?

Diana: There is no need to punish yourself. When we have certain cravings – say, for sugar – they’re our body’s way of talking to us. I teach my clients to listen their bodies. We need to understand the difference between food for fuel and desire, recognising there are times when our bodies are truly in an insulin slump and need carbohydrates, and times when our mind is simply telling us we want to eat a piece of cake! Understand the difference between food for fuel or food for joy, and be ok with the decisions you make. Life is tough enough without torturing ourselves over food choices.

Marisa: As a fellow mother of three, I appreciate that finding a balance health-wise can be logistically challenging even when at home. Travelling takes the need to be an organised mama to a whole other level. What are your top tips for travelling well as a party of five?

Diana: Do a little research before you leave and find out if there are cafés or restaurants in line with your food philosophies. And find accommodation with a kitchen or kitchenette. That way you can prepare some of your meals and be in control of what you eat. I always pack my hand held blender (it’s quite light!) and an aluminium milkshake container. That way I know I can make a smoothie for a snack or breakfast.

I make sure we all bring our runners (training shoes) and a tennis ball. We then find a local park and play games with the tennis ball or on the playground equipment. I source out bike hire at holiday locations as we love to bike ride. See if you can hire sporting equipment or even give a new sport a go. I stood up paddle boarding for the first time last year… and loved it. Yes, at age 44 you can still give new sporting pursuits a go! This can be useful if you are travelling overseas.

Marisa: You’ve made quite a name for yourself as a food prep aficionado and ‘real food’-lover. Do you have a go-to on the go recipe you’d care to share?

Diana: Yes! My healthy capsicum bake. If your kids don’t like tuna, you could use roast chicken or butter beans instead. For a veggie option, I use tinned butter beans and drain the liquid.

Marisa: Are there 5 commonly found things you can think of that could double as exercise equipment in a pinch?

Diana: I love training outdoors. I usually design mini circuit programs for my clients. Monkey bars are fantastic for chin-ups, park benches for step-ups and dips. I always bring a tennis ball (I use them for games and stretching too). I use the perimeter of the playground as a balance beam to work on my proprioception. If you are having a beach holiday just running to the water’s edge and back to the top of the sand is a workout! Repeat that 10 times and your butt will love you for it!

Marisa: I am sure long-distance/long-haul travellers (and those of us who spend far too much time seated in front of computers 😛 ) would appreciate any simple stretch tips to improve circulation and reinvigorate weary limbs. Do you have any suggestions?

Diana: We always tell our clients to hop out of their seats if flying, and go for a walk up and down the aisle at least every hour. We also recommend doing small ankle rotations in your seat, and pointing your toes towards the ground for 30 seconds then upwards towards your shin for 30 seconds is a great stretch.

We have a 7-day stretch challenge coming soon. Its a free program where we share a stretch a day for 7 days. It takes just 60 seconds to do and the only equipment needed is a tennis ball.


  • Train or car? Car.
  • Yoga retreat or boutique hotel? Boutique hotel.
  • City ghost tour or woodland stroll? Woodland stroll.
  • Favourite form of exercise when travelling: TRX suspension trainer.
  • Favourite destination: Anywhere by the ocean.
  • Best wholesome food spot in Melbourne: Oh, this is a tough one… there’s so many!
    Currently I am enjoying Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda. The nachos are to die for!
  • Somewhere you haven’t been that you long to visit: Another tough one! New York, for sure. And the Greek islands.

I sincerely thank Diana for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. And I truly hope you enjoyed reading this little interview and the tips Diana shared!

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. 🙂

To connect with Diana and get more of her food and fitness tips, visit:

Diana’s popular eBook ‘Sweet Treats’ featuring 11 toteable sugar-free/refined sugar-free treats was published in 2015 (I have a copy and the raw brownies are my personal fave!). Get it here

Need support to achieve your best food & fitness personal balance? Body Be Well run a Melbourne-based 4-week course featuring meal plans, meet-ups, exercise protocols, cooking classes and, of course, a ton of support. Interested?
Join here:4-week Clean & Lean Program

*Quote image: Miss Marzipan, using source image found (via thesundaychapter.com) here