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Chocolate and Peanut Bites

Credit for this freakin’ awesome recipe goes to Emica Penklis, nutritionist and chocolatier behind Loco Love. I’m obsessed with her creations and if you are ever around Sydney, you’ve got to try all of them. Wished she would deliver to Singapore too.


(Makes 12-18 squares)

Ingredients 

Base: 
1/2 cup Activated buckwheat 

16 dried or 8 medjool dates 

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon coconut nectar 

1 tablespoon raw cacao

A pinch of celtic salt (or sea salt)
Filling: 
1 cup dried dates (soak in hot water for 5 mins and then drain)

1 cup fresh ground peanut butter

1/2 cup coconut nectar

A pinch of celtic salt (or sea salt)
Chocolate topping: 
1/4 cup cacao powder

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut nectar
Method 

1. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan on a low heat. In food processor place the buckwheat, dates, cacao powder, salt and peanuts. Blend until well mixed. 

2. Add coconut oil and coconut nectar and blend until combined into a dough-like texture. The mix will still be slightly coarse. Remove from processor and press into a dish or pan lined with coconut oil and baking paper (to prevent sticking).

3. The mix should be about 5mm thick and evenly pressed. You can use the back of a spoon to smooth the edges. Place in the freezer to set.

4. For the filling, place the peanut butter and soaked dates in the food processor until they combine to form a paste, then add the coconut nectar and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined. 

5. Remove the base from the freezer and press the chewy mixture evenly over the base. It can be 1cm to 2cm thick. Spread evenly with your  hands and the back of a spoon. Place back in freezer and allow to set for at least 10 minutes. 

6. Now for the filling: in a small bowl melt the coconut oil, add the coconut nectar and whisk. Be very careful not to get any water near this mix or it will separate. Add the cacao powder, mix until the topping is well combined and smooth. 

7. Pour the mix on top of the other two layers. Smooth with a knife. Place in the freezer until hard and then cut with a hot knife into bite sized squares. Serve with a dusting of raw cacao powder straight from the fridge and enjoy. 

A successful gap year

Today a year ago I left my home for Australia. I felt that I wanted a nomadic, globe-hopping, dream chasers and game changes life before I could even descriebe what I was seeking. This was something I didn’t need peer validation for. First time I felt an ache like that was following a solo trip to Egypt at the age of 18. I was young, fearless, had blond hair and wanted to travel alone. So when I confronted my parents with my booked flight, they were like “Are you out of your mind child? Absolutely not.” I got their blessing after a convincing presentation and a list with all contact details of the hotel, Polish Embassy in Cairo, travel agent and emergency numbers.
Infused with the feeling that there are an infinite numer of ways to live life, not just the two or three paths I had been taught at school or saw among my family and friends, I wanted more. At the end every adventure will always remain something nobody can take away from me. Travelling changes you, and there is no way back after that. Breaking free of the shackles of Monday to Friday, mechanical civilisation and our money-based society seems to be something many among us are craving. Thanks to a growing global trend, we’ve learned that travelling the world while building your profession is not a completely impossible juggling act. And in most countries a gap year is recognised as a life-enhancing adventure and if you work abroad a perfect opportunity to gain experience with other management styles, business structures, product and marketing strategies and approches.

If you think of doing a gap year, here are some of my tips for a successful one:

Forget expectations – Expectations kill every experience (and every relationship – as a side note). You probably agree that the best things happen unexpected. Although it’s ok to plan ahead, it’s even better to just see what happens and be open for everything that comes, without imaginating every detail.

Take less – When packing suitcase, my best advice is to lay out all the things you think you absolutely need to pack and then take half away and you are close to perfect. (I still have way too much stuff with me)

Listen to your gut – Constantly remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and decide from a deep gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t go ahead with it. But remember, if something scares you (in a posivite exciting way), it’s probably a good idea.

Journal time – Invest in a nice journal before you start your adventures. I got a beautiful leather-bounded journal from my lovely sister last year which I used every day on my last trip until it was full. Write down your day, your observations, thoughts in each place and on every day. Journaling is a therapeutic method to declutter your thoughts and also a unique reminder of your travelling experiences.

Say hello – Get to know the area where you stay and the locals as quickly as you can when you arrive somewhere new. Sightseeing can wait. Local people can give you local insights to their towns. Instagram is a great tool for meeting new people around the world. You can follow people in the places you plan to go and reach out to them before you get there.

Listen up – Audio books, podcasts and music on long lonely journeys and flights are life saving. Go for informative and educational content if you like.

Go off-line – Journeys are here to enjoy and be IN the moment. Being away from internet, phone, friends and emails can provide space to put an idea together, plan it out or just daydream and feel like a child again.

Find a new home – It’s easier to find accomodation once you’ve landed. Book a room on AirBnB for your first three weeks. Local knowledge is key. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Move quickly – While the notion of packing up and moving your life at whim seems romantic, the logistical elements of creating your new existence can be tricky. There is a mountain of admin that needs to be done. From simple tasks like redirecting your mail or getting visa to things like quitting insurences and renting agreements. Once you sorted out all details, relocate fast, which is good because you have less time to overthink it.

Feels like home – Make your new place comfortable as quickly as you can, no matter if you stay a few days or months. What ever it is that makes a place homey for you, do it. For me it’s sented candles, fresh flowers, clean place, cosy couch, cook a huge meal, fresh bed linen, pictures of friends, as well as going for a run in the area, grocery shopping, yoga class or anything like that.

This is my contribution to empower as many people as possible to be the very best version of themselves. Check also this out: RemoteYear.com & worldnomads.com

Of Breakups and Breakthroughs

As I sat in the corner of a café, listening to two girls talking about their breakups, I thought about my own and the power of change. Life throw us rather unexpected curveballs. When my dad passed away from cancer, my personal life took a twist I never would have predicted. Almost over night I evolved from an alcohol drinking, sleep-deprived, working party-girl to a mindful, raw vegan yogi. I detoxed physically, mentally and socially and felt lost for a very long time. After a sabbatical for a few months in Australia, I returned back home to Austria and decided to do something, my heart wanted so badly but my mind was too afraid of. Sometimes following your heart means losing your mind. By the end of the year I decided to decline two secure job offers, break up with a loving man after over 15 years of a wonderful relationship, move all my belongings in boxes to my mum, sell my car, cancel my insurences and obligations and buy a one-way ticket to Sydney, Australia. This was the most difficult and painful decision of my life and it took me months. I had no plan, but was excited to find out.

This is a subject close to my heart. It’s easy to look at other people’s lives from the outside and think they live a blessed, trouble-free existence, they have courage and do those brave things. But in reality, the odds are that most of us have faced a setback, disappointment or trauma and none of the decisions were easy. We all struggle, get hurt, question ‘why’ and often while juggling work and life responsibilities that we can’t just park with the promise of coming back to them later. But the most wonderful side effect of being tested, streched and challenged is that you remember how incredibly resilient the human spirit is. Being able to hold on the idea of pursuing your purpose, in spite of personal challenges, can surpass your wildest expectations and make you grow. So, be strong, you never know, who you inspire.

Kisses, Julia