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Fresh Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup - Passionately Keren

Tomatoes… or not tomatoes. That is the question.

Truth is, I was looking for a lovely poem on tomatoes on the internet. But I couldn’t find any. At least not one that would emotively describe how beautiful,  and divine vine-ripened tomatoes can be, and and how their scent could make one daydream of slurping a creamy tomato soup on a cold winter day.

The near freezing weather doesn’t feel so bad anymore.

Tomato Soup - Passionately Keren

If you love tomatoes like I do, you’re going to love this soup. Traditionally sour-cream is used to give tomato soup that rich and creamy flavour but since I don’t have vegan sour cream laying around I just used soy milk, and it worked beautifully. If you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, you can also use canned tomatoes. You’d need about 2 x 400g tomatoes for this recipe. However, if you can, do use fresh vine-ripened tomatoes for a fuller, richer tomato flavour.

Tomato Soup - Passionately Keren

 

Fresh Tomato Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious, aromatic and creamy fresh tomatoes soup that will nourish your body and make everything just a little bit better.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree, Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large brown onions, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 medium size vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I use Massel)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup soy milk
Method
  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions over a medium heat until soft but not brown.
  2. Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and then stir so that the spices soak up the olive oil. Add the stock cube, salt, pepper and sugar and stir.
  3. Add the tomatoes. Break them up slightly with a wooden spoon and stir. Add water and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Take the soup off the stove and allow to cool slightly then remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
  5. Puree soup with a blender (or a hand blender). Transfer back into a pan (if using blender) and heat gently. Add the milk, and season to taste.
Notes
Safety tip: For blending hot soups using a normal blender, fill less than halfway, remove your blender lid's centre insert, and then hold a kitchen towel to cover the top while blending.

Tomato Soup - Passionately Keren

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Living your unremarkable life

A couple days ago I learned about a incredible woman. A woman who was once dubbed ‘the most beautiful woman in the world”. A woman who did not only conquered the big screen, but whose intelligence saw her inventing a technology to help combat the Nazis in World War II, which later on formed the basis of WiFi we have today. A woman whose patriotism saw her giving her invention to the U.S Navy for free, only to be told that it would be better if she supports the war effort by selling kisses instead. Which she did by the way, $7million worth of kisses, all in just one night.

When I learned about actress and one the 20th century’s most notable inventors, Hedy Lamarr, I couldn’t help but feel so inspired and fascinated, but also a tad sad. Her glamourous day job as a starlet and her past time hobby studying weaponry and pattern of frequencies, make my life seems so…unremarkable.

But the more I studied this gorgeous, intelligent and amazing woman, who from the outset looked like she has had it all, I realised that being amazing doesn’t always translate to feeling amazing. Despite of all her notable accomplishments, she didn’t seem happy, especially in her later years. She had 6 marriages and 6 divorces. She was estranged from her own son, had a disastrous plastic surgery in an attempt to preserve her beauty, and became more and more recluse towards the end of her life.

Learning about this and at the same time being shocked by the news of suicide carried out by people who led a similarly remarkable lives, people like Anthony Bourdain, the great culinary vigilante whom I used to love watching on TV back in the ol’ days, or the uber-talented Kate Spade, whose playful yet sophisticated line of handbags had taken the world by storm, made me wonder about the significance of it all.

Maybe being remarkable isn’t all its hyped up to be.

Maybe the question shouldn’t be whether or not you lead an extraordinary life according to world’s view, but rather…

Do you like your life?

Are you pursuing things that interest you?

Are you surrounded by people you love?

Are you happy?

And if the answer is yes, then maybe your life is not so bad afterall…

Because at the end of the day… aren’t they the things that matter most?

 

With love,

Keren x

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How to use Himalayan Salt Block

Himalayan Salt Block

Have you cooked on a salt block before? It’s the coolest thing ever. Mine is small square Himalayan Salt Block from The Salt Box who, aside from stocking a range of salt blocks, also sells an incredible variety of salt.

Cooking with salt block not only make it looks impressive, but also makes the food deliciously salty and flavoursome.

Grilled Tempe on Himalayan Salt Block

What is a salt block?

Salt block is essentially a slab of pure salt. In my case, I use the Himalayan salt block which has the prettiest pink hue. Himalayan salt thought to have first formed around 250 million years ago, when the sun dried up a prehistoric ocean, leaving a dense salt deposit, colored by a common pink microorganism that had lived in it.

Now let that sink in a little bit. 250 million years! So next time you use Himalayan salt, know that you are in fact eating something that comes from the ancient time.

Cooking with salt block can be intimidating at first but once you give it a go, it is actually really simple.

Here are some of my tips if you’re new to cooking with salt block.

1. Acclimatise your salt block

This is important to ensure that they won’t crack under high heat, especially if they are new. Just bring them up to temperature slowly, in stages. So heat the block using a low heat (under 100 degrees C) for about 15 minutes, then increase it to a medium heat (about 150 degrees C) for another 15 minutes, and then on high (around 200 degrees C) until it reaches temperature. This applies to gas stove top and grill. Note: you’re using electric, use a diffusing ring (or anything metal like a tart pan with a pop out bottom or a pastry ring) to create a small air gap between the heating element and the salt block and then follow the same process.

It is quite a slow process so give yourself enough time. Each time you want to cook with the salt block it will take 45 minutes in the oven to reach the ideal cooking temperature. I do this whilst I do my food preparation so I don’t have to wait for too long for the block to heat up.

The salt block or plate will change its appearance to a more opaque colour when heated and it may also crackle a bit. Don’t worry too much about it as the salt block will return to its original look once it cools down.

Grilled Tempe on Himalayan Salt Block

2. Keep the salt block hot

Because otherwise, your food will absorb too much salt. You need to salt block to be hot enough to evaporate the moisture in the food. To test this, I would just add a drop of water onto the salt block. If it sizzles violently and evaporates quickly, it’s hot enough. Don’t worry, you get the hang of this.

3. Designate a ‘top’ and ‘bottom’

In other words, use the same side of the salt block for searing food. This is to maintain the integrity of the salt block as it can start to break down faster if both sides are used as the cooking surface.

4. Treat it with a bit of TLC

First of all, do not wash your salt block under running water. Do not use soap, ever (unless you want soap flavoured salt)! If hot, allow your block to cool completely first and use a scrub or a soft brush to remove any stuck matter and wipe with damp cloth. The less water the better. I normally scrape any sticky bits with a knife and then just wipe them clean. It may seem a bit unsanitary but keep in mind is that salt block has powerful antimicrobial properties so you don’t need to worry about things growing on them.  You can keep your salt block in a sealed plastic when it’s not in use.

I use my salt block mostly to grill tempe. The salt block imparts a lovely sea flavour and it’s so simple to make. Here’s a quick recipe/direction on how I do it.

Grilled Tempe on Himalayan Salt Block

Grilled Tempe on Himalayan Salt Block

Ingredients

  • 250g organic tempe
  • Himalayan salt block

Method

  • Heat up the salt block to high (200 degrees C)
  • Slice tempe into 1 cm slices.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil and place tempe slices on the hot salt block
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side and then turn and cook the other side.
  • You can use the remaining heat to sear other veggies like asparagus or mushroom

Have you used salt block before? If not, would you try it? And if yes, what’s your favourite way to use salt block.

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Interview with Jacqueline Köster from Plantastybites

Back in my Uni days, I used to live on McDonalds Sausage and Bacon McMuffins, two-minute noodles, and chocolate. Nowadays, things are very different. I see students becoming more informed and more empowered, with choosing food that are not only good for them, but also for the environment. Such is Jacqueline Köster, the talent behind one of my favourite Instagram account, Plantastybites. She shared my passion for food photography and love for healthy plant-based foods that nourish the mind, body and soul.

In this interview, we talk about Jackie’s personal stories, and her amazing Instagram journey.

Hi Jackie, what did you have for breakfast this morning?

Cannot live without a bowl of oats in the morning, can I? So that’s what I had for breakfast: a bowl of my all-time favourite salted caramel oats!.

[Jackie’s breakfast bowl is always droolworthy by the way] ⇩⇩⇩

 

Oh my peelings! 🍊 Recipe below 👇🏼 As you might’ve seen on my stories, I got my wisdom teeth (all three that I own) removed today and I survived. He kinda did a quick job and removed them all in 15 minutes 😅 After all, im feeling alright until now, still a numb lip though. So glad I’ve had these ORANGE VANILLA OATS just yesterday and was surprised by how good they came out! Slightly sweet and fruity but welcomed warmly by the hint of vanilla – it’s been a dream all along! Recipe; 40g Oats 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice 150ml oat milk 1 tsp flax seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla powder Zest of 1/4 orange Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer until creamy and smooth! I topped my bowl with orange granola, sliced oranges, raisins and dark chocolate! 🍫🍊 Would love to share this bowl with my friend Jane @milkesbeforebreakfast for her #milesbeforebreakfast15k party! 🎉 Did you have your teeth removed already? I’m gladly up for any tips and tricks on how you recovered or what you ate after the removal? Please hit me up! I’ll be off to be somewhat lazy and recover for now, happy Tuesday ☺🧡 . . . . #vegan #veganism #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #veganlifestyle #instafood #plantbased #foodporn #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan @thefeedfeed #thrivemags #govegan #veganinspo #vegansofig #letscookvegan #bestofvegan #veganbreakfast #whatveganseat #oatmeal #porridge #oats #veganbowls #orange #granola #veganrecipes #chocolate #veganchocolate #vegandeutschland

A post shared by Jacky | GER (@plantastybites) on

 

Now, tell us something about you that most people might not know?

I have a slight addiction with nail polish. I own about two racks, though I am not that creative as I used to be. I actually had an Instagram account doing nail art a while back.

If you had a superpower, what would that be, and why?

Does eating tons and tons of chocolate and not gaining weight & damaging my body count as a superpower? If it does, I’d definitely go with this one. If not, I guess I’d love to be able to fly. Seeing the world from another perspective sounds quite appealing to me.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

Oh, that is a hard one. I don’t think I can remember which memory has to be the earliest.

What was your favourite subject in School?

My favourite subject in school used to be sports or biology. I liked being active but also found the insights on how our body and our environment functions incredibly interesting.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

As a Uni student, I don’t think my day in my life is that interesting. I usually get up around 8 and stretch a little to wake up my body. After that, I’m getting started with whatever is written on my to-do list.

Mostly, it consists of going to classes, getting more work done for Uni, my job and also running the usual errands.

I tend to have breakfast around 12 and if I have enough free time that day, I try to arrange my breakfast nicely in order to take pictures for Instagram. In the afternoon, I continue with what is still left on my list & on my schedule for the day but also love to hit the gym twice a week, only going for an hour long cardio session. After dinner, I love to take some time for myself and relax, whether it is watching a movie, scrolling through Instagram or talking to friends.

 

Oh my peelings! 🍊 Recipe below 👇🏼 As you might’ve seen on my stories, I got my wisdom teeth (all three that I own) removed today and I survived. He kinda did a quick job and removed them all in 15 minutes 😅 After all, im feeling alright until now, still a numb lip though. So glad I’ve had these ORANGE VANILLA OATS just yesterday and was surprised by how good they came out! Slightly sweet and fruity but welcomed warmly by the hint of vanilla – it’s been a dream all along! Recipe; 40g Oats 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice 150ml oat milk 1 tsp flax seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla powder Zest of 1/4 orange Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer until creamy and smooth! I topped my bowl with orange granola, sliced oranges, raisins and dark chocolate! 🍫🍊 Would love to share this bowl with my friend Jane @milkesbeforebreakfast for her #milesbeforebreakfast15k party! 🎉 Did you have your teeth removed already? I’m gladly up for any tips and tricks on how you recovered or what you ate after the removal? Please hit me up! I’ll be off to be somewhat lazy and recover for now, happy Tuesday ☺🧡 . . . . #vegan #veganism #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #veganlifestyle #instafood #plantbased #foodporn #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan @thefeedfeed #thrivemags #govegan #veganinspo #vegansofig #letscookvegan #bestofvegan #veganbreakfast #whatveganseat #oatmeal #porridge #oats #veganbowls #orange #granola #veganrecipes #chocolate #veganchocolate #vegandeutschland

A post shared by Jacky | GER (@plantastybites) on

Tell us about your journey with Plantastybites

My journey with Plantastybites started in early January 2017, so about a year ago and a lot has happened since then. Not only has it grown a wonderful community, but I also got to know so many lovely people and even made friends in real life. All through this platform.

The continuous support is unbelievable and I love sharing my passion with every single one who is interested to become a part. Starting Plantastybites has been one of the best decision I made in 2017 and I am so incredibly grateful for the path it is leading me. I am excited to see what this year holds for Plantastybites.

What are some of your goals and vision with Plantastybites?

That is always kind of a funny question. I mean we all have goals and would love to take this somewhere, but I also try to not set my goals too high and keep them realistic.

Surely, we need something we can strive to reach, but I also know that this year is packed with getting my degree so I might need to take a little step back.

What I would really love to do is start a blog and share my recipes on there, so it’ll be easier for people to read. Other than that, I am kind of just going with the flow, excited to see where it is going to take me!

 

Oh my peelings! 🍊 Recipe below 👇🏼 As you might’ve seen on my stories, I got my wisdom teeth (all three that I own) removed today and I survived. He kinda did a quick job and removed them all in 15 minutes 😅 After all, im feeling alright until now, still a numb lip though. So glad I’ve had these ORANGE VANILLA OATS just yesterday and was surprised by how good they came out! Slightly sweet and fruity but welcomed warmly by the hint of vanilla – it’s been a dream all along! Recipe; 40g Oats 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice 150ml oat milk 1 tsp flax seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla powder Zest of 1/4 orange Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer until creamy and smooth! I topped my bowl with orange granola, sliced oranges, raisins and dark chocolate! 🍫🍊 Would love to share this bowl with my friend Jane @milkesbeforebreakfast for her #milesbeforebreakfast15k party! 🎉 Did you have your teeth removed already? I’m gladly up for any tips and tricks on how you recovered or what you ate after the removal? Please hit me up! I’ll be off to be somewhat lazy and recover for now, happy Tuesday ☺🧡 . . . . #vegan #veganism #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #veganlifestyle #instafood #plantbased #foodporn #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan @thefeedfeed #thrivemags #govegan #veganinspo #vegansofig #letscookvegan #bestofvegan #veganbreakfast #whatveganseat #oatmeal #porridge #oats #veganbowls #orange #granola #veganrecipes #chocolate #veganchocolate #vegandeutschland

A post shared by Jacky | GER (@plantastybites) on

Can I say that you’re killing it on Instagram! You’ve grown your audience rapidly in such a short time. What are your top 5 tips for people who want to reach more people on Insta and grow their audience?

To be honest, I am still learning myself every single day. But what I have found to be really important is:

  1. Be yourself. This Instagram account is your account and don’t try to be someone you’re not. People like authenticity and get to know who you really are.
  2. Find your style. And don’t just copy what everybody else is doing. Find what works best for you and what you can truly connect with.
  3. Connect. I think this is definitely one of the best ways to grow your audience, by connecting. Comment on pictures if it’s something you like, read the captions because some people pour their heart and soul into them.
  4. Community. Maybe point 3 and 4 kind of belong together, but building a community and making friends is where it’s at. Not only can you support each other but being part of the community is what makes Instagram so worth it for me! I wouldn’t have met some of the people I talk to on a daily basis if it wasn’t for the Instagram community.
  5. Be active but also take some time off. For myself, I don’t like to follow people who only post once per week or even less but that might also just be my personal opinion. So being active and connecting with people throughout the week is important. On the other hand, you don’t need to stress about posting daily. We all have to handle our everyday life and taking some time off the social media sides is important to focus on what’s most important in life. And life happens outside the virtual world.   

 

What is your favourite food to make?

That’s easy – oatmeal. I don’t know what it is that I love so much about them, but I have them for breakfast almost every single day and I don’t get tired of them.

If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to a dinner party who would they be?

I am addicted to music so I would love to meet a few of my all-time favorites.

  • Ed Sheeran
  • Harry Styles
  • P!nk

And what would you serve? 

I think in that case I would make an exception of my go to lazy vegan dinner meals and think of a nice three course vegan meal, serving up ‘cheesy’ vegetable sticks as a starter, a Buddha bowl buffet with tahini dressing and some chocolate covered cinnamon buns for dessert.

Where is your favourite place to travel, and why?

I haven’t travelled a lot in my life and have never been out of Europe. So, I wish I had something more exciting to say than London or Berlin, but somehow, these cities have stolen my heart. It’s that feeling that you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do and find yourself amongst creative people that make the vibes in these two cities so incredibly captivating.

You are going to be stranded on an island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be?

A knife. A hat. My Yoga mat.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Dates with any kind of nut butter. But also, banana and nut butters are too good to be true. And dates or banana with chocolate and nut butter? The ultimate experience!

What’s the best thing about being you right now?

The best thing about being myself right now is being myself. I think it is so important to find out who you are so you can shine from within and enjoy life to the fullest. I don’t think there is anything rarer, or more beautiful, than you being unapologetically yourself, comfortable in all your perfect imperfections.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Getting my degree and finding out what I am going to do afterward. It is not going to be an easy year and I am sure it will come with its up and downs, but I am ready to see what will happen and to end it on a positive note, I believe I can do anything, as long as I set my mind to it, so fingers crossed for 2018 to be a good one!

Millenials – the new generation of dreamers, disruptors, authentic and brave souls who are going to change the world. Case in point, Jackie!

If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Jackie and get inspired to make delicious vegan food,  follow her along at www.instagram.com/plantastybites

Yours,

Keren

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GoodnessMe Box Review + Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Hi everyone,

Hope you are well. I honestly can’t believe that March is here. I’ve taken some time off from social media as some of you may have noticed and it felt really good. Sometimes you have to stop, re-focus, re-centre, and remember why you do what you do.

Anyhow, a week ago I did an unboxing video of the February edition of GoodnessMe Box, perhaps one of my favourite boxes of all time. It was loaded with a lot of pink deliciousness and boy do I love pink.

I also made Cashew and Almond Energy Bars inspired by Lorna Jane’s Energy Bars recipe that came with the box. They were delish! Mildly sweet, nutty, and oh so satisfying.

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

These bars are so easy to make and perfect for an afternoon pick me up or as emergency snacks. I’ve been making them in double batches to freeze. So so good! Check out the video and the recipe below and I do hope you will give them a try.

  Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A delicious wholefood snack for whenever you need a boost of energy
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 20-30
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashew
  • 1 cup raw almond
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter (I used picks)
  • ⅔ cup soaked dried dates (or 10 medjool dates)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 4-8 tbsp boiling water
Method
  1. Blend all ingredients, except the boiling water in a food processor until crumbed.
  2. Slowly add boiling water until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Firmly press the mixture into a mold (I use heart-shaped mold) or into a lined slice tin.
  4. Allow to set in the fridge for about 1 hour before eating.
  5. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for 4 weeks.

Cashew and Almond Energy Bars

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Loving the skin you’re in – with Jessica Anwyl

Jess Anwyl

I love people. I love connecting with them, listening to their stories, and learning from their experiences. There are some amazing humans out there who I really would like to get to know better.

So this year I thought I would do an interview post once a month, with people who inspire me. People who have amazing skills, knowledge and experience to share. People who are not afraid to talk about their own struggles and challenges. Real people like you and I. Most of them are my friends, people I come to admire, and people with interesting stories to tell.  I hope there is something in each post that makes you think, ponder, or better yet, take action. We’re all in this together.

For our first interview post this year I’d like to introduce you to Jess. Jess is a skin and gut survivor, wellness writer, and founder of In The Ra — a personal blog that shares raw and real stories of how to love the skin you’re in and heal yourself with wholefoods.

I got to know Jess through a Mastermind Group called The Pack run by George Siosi Samuel. I still remember being super impressed by Jess when she did a Tough Mudder (a popular mud and obstacles run in Australia), after a 16-day water fast! Not only is she an expert in juicing and fasting, she is also a talented copywriter, photographer, and a kickass interviewer. I’m just so honoured to have Jess sharing her story here on this blog.

In this interview, we talk about Jess’ personal stories, her gut and skin journey, and her growing community In The Ra.

Hi Jess, what did you have for breakfast this morning?

A chocolate banana smoothie.
[Thought I’d share this choc smoothie bowl recipe Jess posted on Instagram so you get an idea of the type of ‘smoothie’ she’s talking about] ⇩⇩⇩

Sticking with chocolate tradition this Easter Friday. This chocolate smoothie bowl is more of a choc Macca moussey bowl. She’s yummy! Let’s have choccy for brekky! This recipe combines banana, cacao, macca and avocado to make the ultimate hormone balancer and mood booster! 1 frozen banana 2 tbsp cacao 1 tsp cacao nibs 3 medjool dates 1 tsp macca powder 1/2 avocado 2 tsp chia, psyllium husk and flaxseed meal (each) 1/2 Apple (Yes that’s a lot of fibre! #howweroll ) 1 tbsp coconut yogurt 1/2 cup coconut water 1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used organic soy today) Blend until moussey smooth. Then top with your choice of fruits, nuts and seeds. At the moment I’m drawn to pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, apples and berries (all skin loving). And today I also added my “choc dirt” 😉 It’s sooo good! I was hoping to have a healthy chocolate hot cross bun recipe (vegan and GF) ready for you guys but couldn’t find a recipe even close so it was a total experiment. And I’ll admit it failed in a way…They turned out like chocolate rock cakes but delicious as a crumbly chocolate over icecream and mousse 😍 (see my instastories). Anyway…maybe next time 😜 Enjoy your moussey smoothie bowl breakfast for tomorrow 😋🤤 #eastereats Xx Jess

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Now, I believe there are some fun facts about your name Jess. Do share.

My full name is Jessica Robin Anwyl. There’s a funny story behind my last name. An uncommon name in Australia, but very common in whales. It’s Welsh and is often obscure enough for people to ask me how it’s pronounced. I pronounce it softly and the way my father first told me.

Though recently when I was in Pai Thailand I met a Welsh girl. I told her my last name, but she said she’d never heard of it. I was shocked! So I insisted she knew and repeated it. She gave me this deadpan look, and I went silent — a tad disappointed.

“How’s it spelled?” she asked.

“A-N-W-Y-L.” I said.

“Oh! Anwyl! I know that name.” She said it back to me, but it in a way that was completely unrecognisable, and quite frankly painful to my ears.

That was the day I realised I didn’t know how to say my own name, AND I’ve been correcting people INCORRECTLY for 25 years!

Now when people ask me “how do you pronounce your name?”

I tell them the truth, that “I don’t know”.

I totally sympathise, until I was 11 years old I had been incorrectly correcting my name to Karen. It wasn’t until I told my mother that her spelling of my name (i.e. Keren) was wrong that she showed the verse in the bible where my name was taken from to show me that my name is in fact Keren, not Keren!

Now, tell us something about you that most people might not know?

This is a hard one as I try to be transparent under the small limelight I’m in. One surprising thing people might not know about me is I’ve had 3 close calls with death in the last three years and I’m only 25. First, from an acute illness, then a chronic illness and more recently in an accident.

If you had a superpower, what would that be, and why?

The ability to communicate with anyone. Not just to converse in their language, but to connect on a level where each person felt understood. I feel that that’s a real a superpower. Because it’s the way we’ll change the world.

Jess Anwyl

What is your earliest childhood memory?

I had two sisters growing up (now I have three) and in the early days we didn’t get along. Until we had an important reason to band together, i.e., to steal my dad’s shoe horn. Let me explain…

Back when it was okay to hit kids, my dad kept this plastic, yellow shoehorn on top of the fridge. That’s what he used to hit us with. I don’t remember being hit with it, only the point where we were sick of it. I remember my sisters and I going on this brave mission, and making this elaborate (at the time) plan to distract my dad and construct our own ladder to retrieve it, and a plan to dispose of the shoe horn. We even made sure we corroborated our stories. It was the wildest fun! My dad was furious but, us sisters, we bonded over it.

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Do you have a favourite subject in School?

I was not keen on school. I liked to socialise, play sport, write, but on my own terms. I was stubborn, but if I had to choose a subject, it would have been biology because I loved my teacher.

Where is your favourite place to travel, and why?

Anywhere with fresh produce! Haha. This may seem childish but what makes me happiest is when I see people coming together, growing, selling and connecting out in nature over fresh food.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

Different places, different spaces. The thing that stays the same and smoothies, me and my laptop. I’m a writer, so I write and it doesn’t matter where.

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Tell us about your journey with In The Ra

Well, about 15 months ago things were looking pretty dim in my world. I had been diagnosed with a severe and rare skin condition called Rosacea Fulminan (RPOB), SIBO (a gut condition) and couldn’t eat anything without having a severe reaction. It got to a point where I was so allergic to food that I had to stop eating altogether. I lost a lot of weight, weighing in at 44 kilos.

If not eating wasn’t bad enough, the skin on my face was also debilitating. Completely swollen and unrecognisable, with black scabs all over my face. If wet, it was like an open wound and the skin would literally wash away — it was no longer a barrier. The skin was so dry and painful, I couldn’t smile, pluck my eyebrows or bathe. I looked like a monster, so I didn’t go out in public for 3+ months.

In my vulnerable, desperate and scared state, I reached out to my specialists one last time. To be told I was a complex case and that I would never get better.

But I couldn’t accept that! So I decided to leave all my health practitioners behind and heal myself naturally. And as I improved (scary as it was) I was called to show my face, share my story, and my healing journey, in real time. That’s when I started The Ra.

I have to say that I’m a big fan of your blog Jess, even though I don’t have a skin condition. The issue with shame and not feeling good enough with your own skin is so relatable on so many levels. What are some of your goals and vision for In The Ra?

In The Ra started off as a safe place for me to be seen. Now In The Ra is a story sharing platform to help others be seen and have the courage to see themselves.

It’s specifically tailored to those suffering with skin and gut conditions, but I know the messages resonate with a wider audience, because we share fundamental and timeless truths.

I feel that In The Ra message has a lot more to give. Soon, we will be working in collaboration with The Genyus Network to help women with skin conditions connect and share their stories as a community.

Eventually, I hope to be speaking and spreading this message, story and inspiration with courses, books and more.

I love how your blogpost is always so beautifully written and captivating, what are your top tips for people who want to write better.

There are two ways I write, when inspiration strikes, and when a topic is requested.

When inspiration strikes I just go for it. I get everything down on the page. When you’re in flow, go. You can always edit it after. Once you’ve got it all out, think about who’ll read this. How can this help them? What might they glean from your writing? After answering this read it over again and shape it for them. No one likes anything that’s too me, me, me. Your story is powerful, but only when it’s shaped for the reader.

When a topic is requested or I’m writing an A to your Q, I first write the purpose of my post.

For example: This post will outline how to succeed on a juice fast.

This is your north star. It will keep you focused and on topic.

Then I write down all the key points and ideas, write them out in order of why (the reason it’s important), what it is and how (if there is a practical element) to do it.

Quick tips would be:

  1. Keep looking back at your north star to see if you’re on point.
  2. Allow yourself to do a shitty first draft (without judgement)
  3. Ask yourself, could this be said simpler? How can I make this point more succinct and powerful?
  4. Back up what you say with science a story or a quote.

I’m so amazed at how confident you are with your videos and stories. And you do it while battling with your skin condition! How did you cultivate this confidence and how can we be more confident with the skin we’re in?

Such a great question! It’s interesting, because before my skin condition I was terrible in front of the camera, I hated it! Now I look back at those photos and videos and think, “what the heck? You were beautiful!”

The truth is, now I’m confident on camera because I’m allowing myself to be seen. Before, when my flaws we’re not physical, I was worried about showing myself, making a mistake and being judged for my internal flaws and insecurities. I was holding back.

Now I’m all good because I’m all in. My flaws and me are all on show so there’s nothing to hide or be scared of. At first though, it was scary, but like anything, the more you do it the more confident you become.

Plus, When we hide we cultivate shame.

That’s why being seen applies to overall confidence as well. The more we get out there and be seen doing a particular skill, sharing a particular view, or a particular side of ourselves, the more open and comfortable we become with that part.

Allow yourself to be seen and through this courage, your confidence will come.

If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to a dinner party who would they be?

  1. Socrates, because wisdom.
  2. Matthew Hussey, because he’s a great communicator and thinker
  3. Marie Forleo, because she’s my female crush.

I love that you have Matthew Hussey on the list!… And what would you serve?

Is it naughty to say I’d get Uber eats? I feel Socrates’ mind would be blown. It’s a sure way to win him over! ;)

You are going to be stranded on an island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be?

  • For beauty — an aloe vera plant! Says any girl with a skin condition.
  • To write and create — my laptop with a solar charger.
  • To read for mental strength — Man’s Search for Meaning By Viktor Frankl

What is your guilty pleasure (if you have any)?

Books! Haha, when I say I’ve been on a bender my friends know I’ve just spent half my day buying books. It’s excessive…

What’s the most influential book (or books) you’ve read to date?

This is a tough one to answer. Some of the first books I ever read are ones that changed my life, but do not at all resonate with me now.

Here are my recent inspirations:

  • Unmasked By Turia Pitt – This book made me feel completely understood. It also gave me the courage to travel on my own with a severe skin condition.
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You By Cal Newport – A key read for creatives who want to become successful. It debunks the passion hypothesis — the idea that you need to be passionate to be successful — instead proves that passion follows hard work, and often won’t precede it. It’s mind-blowingly thorough, well structured and practical. It’s close to becoming a “re-readable”.

I RARELY read books more than once. I may reference them, but for me to re-read an entire book is rare, it means they’re very valuable.

Here are my timeless “re-readables”:

  • The War of Art By Steven Pressfield – This taught me about resistance — that real art takes hard work. That “your calling” doesn’t always feel good, and that inspiration isn’t the only sign you’re on the right path. It’s one of those books you can open at any page and find an insight and inspiration to keep you going.
  • On the Shortness of Life By Seneca – Written by a stoic Italian philosopher in ancient times, but reads as if it were written today. Except for the random slave comment… This book hits some hard home truths. One is, “life is long if you know how to use it…it is not that we are given a short life, but we make it so…we are not ill supplied, but wasteful of it.” He goes on to explain how he thinks we can make our lives long.


Both these books are incredibly short, but powerful.

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

I am excited to be ghostwriting a book, but I also want to write my own. It’s been a crazy-wonderful, dark, but delightful journey that needs to be shared. Hopefully it will have the similar effect on people that Turia’s ‘Unmasked’ had on me.

For In The Ra , we have interviews with skin, gut and health experts, as well as sharing raw and real stories of inspirational wellness warriors.

I’m not a massive visionary. I feel for the long-term and only can see in the short term. I know that if I follow my intuitive ideas and make the most of today, what I want will come.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Jess as much as I did. If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Jess and In The Ra, learn to love the skin you’re in, get inspired, heal yourself with wholefoods, or connect with Jess, sign up for email updates at www.inthera.com.au.

You can find Jess on:

Kerenx

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New York Photo Diary – Part 1

New York

New York, New York….

The food. The art. The iconic yellow cab. And although it’s been over a month since I went to New York, the memory is still fresh in my head. And here it is, friends, highlights from my birthday, honeymoon, and Christmas trip combined to the Big Apple, part 1.

Manhattan Island

Manhattan Island 

A tiny rant on time zones

21-hour flight, one transfer and two ‘special’ security checks later we landed in the afternoon on the same day we left Sydney.

Honestly, it kind of sucks being behind everybody else. The 16-hour time difference really made me think about the whole fuss with time zone and its significance. Do we have to have time zones? Is it really necessary? I mean, from a physics perspective, there IS only one time! I think the world will be a much simpler place if we just use one time. Why we can’t follow a universal time system? China for one has abolished time zones despite it geography being in five different time zones. Of course, things might be a little bit awkward at first but I’m sure we’d be able to adjust to it with time, and I think the benefits would outweigh the initial confusion. Anyway, moving on.

New York Street

Taking it all in..

The Empire State of Mind (see video above to see what I’m talking about) plays in my head every now and then, whenever I see a landmark, the ‘I heart New York’ tees, the big apple on red Applebee’s sign. I’ve always wondered what it’s like, and now I’m finally here!

New York Street

Where’re All The Apples?

A fun fact – did you know that New York’s nickname “Big Apple” has nothing to do with the state’s apple production?

It was popularised by John J. Fitz Gerald, a newspaper reporter back in 1920 who uses this catchphrase in his horseracing column, “Around the Big Apple.” And then in the 1970s, the nickname “Big Apple” was picked up by the New York City’s official marketing and tourism organisation and well…the rest is history.

I was surprised to see the Trump Tower smack bang in the middle of 5th Avenue. I only noticed it because there was a security station built on the side of the building, which is an odd thing to find next to an apartment.

New York Street

I did a little digging and it turns out that they have extra security guarding the building because Mr Trump stays here whenever he’s in New York.  And according to Fortune, this extra security costs about $308,000 per day. Hmm…

Christmas in NYC

The best thing about spending Christmas in New York is that firstly, the city is not dead on Christmas day! This is very exciting for me because, in Sydney, the 25th December often feels a bit like one of those cities in Walking Dead – all the shops are closed and the only thing you see walking around the city are zombies…or Asians.

The second best thing about celebrating Christmas in New York is seeing all the beautiful Christmas decoration adorning the buildings. I especially love the Christmas wreath. I have never seen a real wreath in before. Not one made with real pine cones and Christmas berries anyway. I kept on touching them because I couldn’t believe they were real.

New York - Passionately Keren

In front of a gorgeous Christmas wreath outside The Frick Museum

How amazing do they look?

New York - Passionately Keren

Church stairs decorations

Gorgeous wreaths in New York's apartment building

More gorgeous wreaths. I really love how bright the red bow is, especially against the white wall of the building.

What the Shrub?!

On my second of third day, I noticed these unusual shrubs I kept coming across along the street of New York.

At first, I thought they were fake because honestly, they look too good to be real. I mean, look at them in their bright green colour, covered with snow in freezing temperature, looking very ‘fresh’.  Surely they’re fake… I thought to myself.

Junipers plants

But as I walk, I see more and more of these shrubs… And started thinking, man what’s with all these fake plants?. But then I thought again, maybe.. they are real?

So at my next encounter with this weird looking shrub, I stopped, bent over and pulled one of the branches closes to me.

Ermahgerd…, they’re REAL!

Junipers plants

This is exactly why I love travelling. Finding out amazing things about the world that I know very little of.

I did some googling when I got back to Sydney and it appears that the shrubs I saw were some sort Junipers plants. I’m talking about those deep green spiky things surrounded by the beautiful Holly plants (the one with yellow-green leaves and bright red berries). They are part of the Conifers group (plants with those distinct needle-like leaves), ancient as the dinosaurs, resilient as hell, mostly evergreen (retaining their foliage and retains their colour throughout the year, despite the seasons), and can live for a very long time (the world oldest plants are all conifers). Now that is a very impressive plant resume if I ever see one.

NBA game New York

Christmas Day Basketball Game

Did I mention how lively Christmas day is in New York? They even have a Christmas day NBA game!

NBA Game

We went to it was so much fun. The crowd atmosphere was buzzing and everyone was so into it! The Knicks fan were chanting “defense, defense’, whenever the Knicks were pushed to their own side, and since we were in New York, I thought it was apt for me to side with them, so I joined along. Here’s what they sound like if you’ve never heard of them.

Unfortunately, the New York Knicks lost the game that day….and every other game they played during our time in New York…

City view from Central Park

Around the City

New York - Passionately Keren

Ice Skating in Central Park

 

New York street cart's pretzel

Street cart’s pretzel

Top of the rock

View from Top Of The Rock

 

Central Park Squirrel

Up close with the Central Park’s Squirrel

NYC Subway

New York Subway

The Amazing New York Sax Buskers

Okay, let me tell you about the New York Sax buskers.

They are THE BEST.

New York Subway Sax Busker  

It’s hard to explain, you really need to experience it yourself (check out this Youtube playlist so you can see what I’m talking about). The experience was truly mesmerising for me. The atmosphere, the music, and how it all just makes the world feels a little better, a little nicer.

NYC Sax Busker

A girl dancing to a sax busker on the street – I totally regretted not recording this one. The beat was so good you just want to move.

Sometimes, all you need is love, and music….

In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new

Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York,….

Keren x

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Vegan Brunch at Allegra Dining

A couple of weeks before going away for Christmas I had the great pleasure of being invited to check out Allegra Dining, which is a new restaurant on the ground floor of a chic residential & commercial complex on Danks St, in the heart of Waterloo.

Allegra Dining

It was a nice and sunny Sunday morning so we decided to sit outside at the back for some fresh air. I think they were the best seats in the house! It was quiet, away from everybody else, plus you had the best view of the shallow pool, the palm trees and the surrounding apartments. It almost felt like you were holidaying in a tropical resort somewhere.

Allegra Dining

Allegra doesn’t promote itself as being vegan friendly, though they should. I ordered a few dishes straight from their menu which they were happy to ‘veganise’. And they were good. Really good!

Whipped avocado, broadbeans, peas, soft-boiled egg & bottarga on toast (veganised by removing the egg and the fish).

This toast was exploding with flavours and textures – the crunchy bread, the creamy whipped avocado (which is ingenious in itself), the fresh, sweet, bright-green peas (shelled by hands, mind you), the mildly earthy broadbeans, and those bright purple microgreens, all sang their beautiful tune in perfect culinary harmony. It was decidedly the most delicious toast I had in 2017.

  Allegra Dining

Spaghetti, burrata, tomato, basil, pangrattato (veganised by removing the cheese, and they also added some nice herb leaves).

This dish was such a delight to eat. The spinach pasta is perfectly al dente, the flavour is distinctly simple with just enough heat to excite the tongue. It’s not too oily and not too dry. Bellísima.

Allegra Dining

Allegra Dining - Roasted Kipfler Potatoes

Kifler crispy kipflers, rosemary, burnt butter aioli (veganised with vegan aioli)

Having had hundreds of roast potato dishes (outside and inside of my own kitchen), I consider myself as somewhat of a connoisseur of roast potatoes. It is quite a fine art making crispy and wonderfully fluffy potato and it looks like the good folks at Allegra have mastered it. It’s definitely on my ‘must order’ list for Allegra Dining.

Passionfruit sorbet with fresh mango, coconut cream and mango pearls

Now this is something that they made especially for me on the spot, because the mango pancake is not vegan. I really think they should put this alternative on the permanent menu. The creamy coconut, the soft fresh mango flesh, the silky smooth passionfruit sorbet, and the bursts of mango juice as the pearls dance around and pop in your mouth… now that’s a party I’d invite myself to! It was a delicious dessert to cap off the year before we went overseas.

Allegra Dining

Allegra’s décor

My husband Nat was especially complimentary of Allegra’s décor. He thought that the restaurant’s interior was a very artistic mixture of different materials (from the wood-board planks snaking through the polished concrete floor, to the wood-panelled walls, the wine bottles decorating the walls, and the tasteful spotlights creating a moody atmosphere) that all came together to create a very pretty warehouse-conversion-style establishment that made you feel at home from the moment you arrived.

The interior designer definitely earned their keep with this venue because even though there are a dozen different materials and styles all jostling together inside the restaurant they all ‘click’ together and the venue never feels tacky or dated. I personally thought the place, and not just the food, looked great.

Allegra Dining

Allegra Dining
Address: 8/18 Danks St, Waterloo NSW 2017

Hours:

All day brunch: Sunday 9am to 3pm

Dinner: Tuesday- Saturday 5pm to 10:30pm (kitchen opens at 6pm)

Contact: (02) 9698 1699,  hello@allegradining.com.au

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Vegan Eggnog Custard

Vegan Eggnog Custard

Merry Christmas everyone! I’ve got a delicious recipe for you today. It’s a creamy, dreamy Vegan Eggnog Custard.

I’m writing at The Manhattan Hotel Club New York. We landed yesterday after a tiring 21-hour flight from Sydney to New York via Los Angeles, and two special security screenings for which I was randomly selected (not sure how ‘random’ it was to be honest).

It is the 24th December here in America but because of the time difference, it is 25th December (Christmas day)for my Australian friends and family!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I was supposed to post this recipe before I left for New York but better late than never right?

Vegan Eggnog Custard

This Vegan Eggnog Custard  ‘happened’ because I couldn’t choose between making Vegan Eggnog or Vegan Custard for my Christmas lunch week, so I made both! I was really surprised at how good this turned out, and how much everyone loved it. It’s delicious, decadent, and contains all the spices that scream Christmas morning.

The addition of fresh mint leaves and pomegranate seeds, although optional, makes such a difference, so I recommend you include them if possible. The freshness of the mint and the sour tanginess of the pomegranate just adds such a lovely contrast to this sweet creamy dessert.

I hope you give this recipe a go, and may the sweet magic of Christmas fills your heart and soul and wishing you all the peace and joy this holiday!

Vegan Eggnog Custard

Vegan Eggnog Custard
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A creamy, dreamy, delicious Christmas treat for everyone.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 (400ml) can coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoon brown rice syrup (or you can also use maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoon spiced sherry (or rum, bourbon, brandy, or whiskey)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon of sea salt
  • a tiny pinch of turmeric for colour (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • Fresh mint leaves and Pomegranate seeds (optional)
Method
  1. Soak the cashews overnight or for at least 1 hour.
  2. Combine cornstarch with ¼ cup water and mix really well. Make sure there are no lumps
  3. Place all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the eggnog mixture into a saucepan and warm gently on the stove. Do not bring to a boil.
  5. Add about a cup of the warm eggnog milk to the cornstarch mixture and combine. Now pour it all back into the saucepan to combine with the remaining eggnog mixture.
  6. Stir constantly with a whisk and continue cooking on medium until the custard is thick and luscious.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer to serving glasses.
  8. Chill for 3 hours or overnight before serving
  9. Serve with some fresh mint leaves and some pomegranate seeds (about a tablespoon per serve)

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM NEW YORK!

Keren in New York

Me eating Vegan Burger at By Chloe, NYC

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Review of Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

Hello friend!

Only a few more days until Christmas! Are you excited? I am.

But I’m one of those people who’d spend the entire year looking forward to Christmas and New Year and then find myself completely unprepared for it. So every year I always end up in a mad rush trying to get things organised before everything sold out for Christmas.

Thankfully this year things are a lot simpler. Because I’m going away to celebrate Christmas in New York, yay!

That said, I’ve had five Christmas events already, most of them are catered for (thank goodness) but last week I had a team lunch where I had to bring a plate. It was on a weekday which means I didn’t have much time to prepare. But luckily, I have a packet of Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix that’s been sitting in my pantry, just waiting for me to try it.

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

I love cake mixes. I use to love making Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie for special occasions until I realised how unhealthy it is!

Since then I’ve been making my own cakes from scratch which have been great, when I have the time.

But I do love my mixes for the days when I don’t feel like messing around in the kitchen, or when I simply don’t have time.

And so I have high hopes for this brownie mix.

And boy did it rise up to my expectation.

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

This Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix doesn’t taste ‘activated’ or ‘buckwheat’ or ‘healthy’. It tastes perfectly normal, which is pretty incredible. Like a real chocolate brownie! You know, not the kind that you’d eat because it’s ‘healthy’ but the kind that you’d bring to the dinner party to impress the in-laws. It’s that good.

But there’s more!

Here are a few other reasons why I love this brownie mix:

  • It’s made with stoneground activated buckwheat flour.
  • It comes with a reusable wooden peg from rescued pallets.
  • The packet is made Earth Bags and will fully compost in the compost bin, green waste bin or even just in regular rubbish.
  • 50c from every packet sold will go directly to OzHarvest making one meal available to one vulnerable Australian.
  • It’s gluten free, grain free, and dairy free.

What’s not to love?

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

The mix is also easily veganised. The packet instruction actually calls for eggs but you can replace it using 2 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water (or store bought egg replacer like .

I also added 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder for extra lift and 1/3 cup of chopped walnut for that extra texture.

The result is a delicious, decadent chocolate brownie that smells and tastes divine!

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

I have to say, I haven’t been impressed with a gluten-free, vegan, cake mix until now! I’m a total convert and will definitely be including this on my shopping list – because you just never know when someone might call a last-minute get-together!

This post is created in collaboration with Gino’s Gourmet Groceries, a cool new online store that source artisan products that are free of artificial ingredients and nasty. You can find Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix there as well as other great products. You can get 25% discount on our next purchase by using the code “PASSIONATELY25” during checkout. 

Happy holiday everyone!

Keren