Healthy Brunch Cafes in Bondi Beach, Sydney

If you have been following me for a while, you will be aware that last year I went to Sydney for a couple of weeks and wrote a selection of food guides including ones for Bondi Beach and the CBD. Since I returned again this year, I made it my mission to try three new brunch spots in the city over the course of the few days I was in town. These three cafes are the bee’s knees. Australians just known how to brunch. Trust me, you wont be disappointed.

Preach Cafe

The new cafe in town has had rapid success, as its wholesome menu goes down a treat in the fitness obsessed Bondi community. The brunch menu has everything from the classics like shakshuka and mashed avocado on toast to sweet treats like cinnamon french toast and banana pancakes. If you’re feeling fussy, you can build your own breakfast too. And make sure you try their dirty chai, its dreamy.

Speedos

A famous Bondi cafe, which I cant believe I didn’t try on my previous trip. It has stunning views of the bay and a casual beach vibe. Their menu is a little smaller but the dishes are more diverse and step away from the classic brunch meals. I had a delicious falafel “yogi” plate and shared the vegan pancakes – which were the fluffiest I have ever tried! I have also heard great things about their granola jars and acai bowls, which I sadly didn’t get to try… I guess I have an excuse to go back?!

Harry’s

This new kid on the block is ridiculous popular. Every time I walked past it was overflowing with customers, so get there early! It caters to both the healthy eater, and the more indulgent brunch lover. The restaurant focuses on using local, seasonal and fresh products. I recommend trying the quinoa and feta fritters or the ricotta hotcake; or go one step further and split them both with a friend!

If you combine this list of brunch spots with my previous Bondi brunch guide you’ve got a serious selection to work through. Get eating!

Zanna x

March 30, 2017

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Why You Need To Visit The Blue Mountains, Australia

It astounds me how many people visit the buzzing city of Sydney, but fail to explore the near by serene Blue Mountains. Myself included. I came to Sydney a year ago and never managed to squeeze in a trip to them, as I told myself they were too far away. How wrong I was! The Blue Mountains are extremely accessible. They are a 1-2 hour drive from central Sydney and are packed full of activities and attractions, meaning you could easily spend a day or a week there. If I haven’t already convinced you, here are are my top reasons you need to visit this stunning Australian National Park:

It’s Vast

The Blue Mountains are larger than Switzerland. SWITZERLAND! With over 4000 square miles of rainforest, mountains, canyons, caves and waterfalls, as well as 87 miles of walking tracks; you have a lot to explore!

It’s Active

You can very easily stay active during your time in the Blue Mountains. There are whole host of bushwalking trails you can follow, which can be explored alone or with a local guide. Treks in the area range from the 1 mile Princes Rock Walk to Wentworth Falls all the way through to the three day Six Foot Track, which sounds absolutely incredible! I went with the help of a guide from Colourful Trips – he absolutely made my day. His enthusiasm was infectious and his knowledge was next level. Plus he has been through traditional training, so was able to give us an insight into the aboriginal way of life in the mountains and tell us tonnes of insightful stories.

The Views

The mountains are scattered with incredible view points, and the scenery is honestly breathtaking. It feels like you’re inside a postcard, it is so beautiful it’s hard to comprehend! The oil from the eucalyptus trees leads to a blue haze which hangs over the mountains, hence the name, which gives them a unique and stunning appearance which a photograph just can’t capture. You need to see it with your eyes.

It is useful to note that the view points can get busy, so ask to be taken to the main ones early in the morning, such as the famous Three Sisters. Then you can visit quieter ones, like the lesser known but equally as stunning Sublime Point, later in the day.

The Flexibility

As I said, the mountains are so easily accessible from Sydney. If you’re short on time, you can easily do a day trip from the city and take in the key view points and even squeeze in a short hike. If you have the option though, I highly recommend spending a couple of days there and really embracing the relaxed rainforest lifestyle.

The Caves

The Blue Mountains are home to the famous Jenolan Caves. These 11 accessible caves are home to undergoing rivers and beautiful formations. Take a guided day tour, an evening ghost tour, or head to the monthly cave concert with natural acoustics. Mind blowing.

I honestly loved The Blue mountains and would return in a heartbeat. I would love to explore them even further, especially on foot! You can see a vlog from my time here and can find out more information about accommodation and activities on the Tourism Australia website.

Zanna x

March 30, 2017

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Guest Post: How To Spend A Healthy Day In Bath

Hello, its Hannah here (aka @hanhanhoughton over on Instagram). I’m an English student at the University of Exeter and a massive fan of all things food, fitness and travel.

Having grown up near Bath, I’ve had many years exploring the city’s cobbled Georgian streets, wandering around the countryside and trying out the quirky independent cafes on offer. So, here’s my take on what to do, see and eat if you fancy a day trip to Bath…

Get Up & Go

Set in the middle of the South West’s rolling hills, Bath is the perfect city for a good old fashioned country stroll (or run, if that’s your preference!). The Skyline Walk is a 10km route that starts at the university grounds. During the walk, you’ll come across an Iron Age hill fort, little valleys, multiple woodlands and, when you turn around at the top of the hills, there’s one incredible view of the city’s Georgian buildings and Bath stone.

Have Some Brekkie

Tucked away down one of Bath’s many cobbled streets, you will find The Wild Café. The Wild Café offers a range of simple, quality brunch dishes for really reasonable prices. Not only do they do a pretty amazing avo and eggs English breakfast combo, they also locally source ALL of their produce, using only Bath-based bread and local independent butchers. The café even runs on 100% renewable electricity! With its friendly, chilled out atmosphere, quirky mismatched décor and eco-friendly ethos, The Wild Café is definitely worth a visit.

See The Sights

If you’re not one for a whistle-stop bus tour, the best way to see Bath is by foot. Being a relatively small city, Bath’s main attractions sit nicely within walking distance of one another. There’s the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey if you want to soak up some history and there are plenty of gardens (including Parade and Sydney) if you want to explore the outdoors. Bath is renowned for its spectacular Georgian architecture, so a visit to marvel at the buildings is also a must. My favourite spots are the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney Bridge.

Tuck In

Next up, is a personal favourite of mine…The Green Rocket Café. It’s a recently opened independent vegetarian café on the corner of North Parade and I love it. The staff are all so welcoming and the menu is packed full of vibrant vegetarian and vegan options. They offer a takeaway service for people that want to picnic in the nearby Parade Gardens during Summer too.

Even though my diet isn’t completely plant based, The Green Rocket Café has ignited my love for raw, vegan desert. The last time I visited, I practically inhaled a raw chocolate orange cheesecake and, to this day, it is still the most heavenly cheesecake I have ever tasted (sorry Terry, we have a new contender in the chocolate orange department now).

Relax and Rewind

To finish off your day in Bath, watch the sun set over the city’s picturesque skyline from the Bath Thermae Spa roof-top pool. The spa offers 3-hour twilight packages – the perfect way to relax and rewind after a long day exploring, adventuring and eating some top-notch food.

Bath, with its rolling landscapes, Georgian architecture and friendly, independent food outlets is always worth the visit. It’s the perfect city for outdoors fanatics, quality local food enthusiasts, people that love to take in spectacular countryside views…and those that get overly enthusiastic about raw chocolate orange cheesecake too.

Han xx

Instagram: @hanhanhoughton 

March 21, 2017

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What To Do In Bergen, Norway: An Active Travel Guide

Norway is an underrated destination, especially during the winter “off-season” months. I recently ventured to the mountains for a weekend of adventures and it honestly blew me away. Instead of heading to the more popular destination of Oslo, we flew north to Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. It is a quiet spot, full of traditional Norwegian architecture and surrounded by seven mountains which are crying out to be explored. If you ever find yourself there, here are my top tips, tricks and recommendations.

Explore Bergen

The town itself is remarkably quiet for being the second largest city in such a huge country. However Norway as a whole has a population of 5 million, which is 4 million less than the 9 million population of the city of London alone!

We stayed in Bryggen, right in the centre of town, at Det Hanseatiske Hotel. This was the perfect location to explore the surrounding area. If it is raining, which is does a lot in Bergen, then head into the town centre. You will find a whole host of museums and art galleries, specifically street art galleries, which you can easily spend hours exploring. The local fish market is also famous for its fresh catches (not my cup of tea, but people seem to love it!) and the local shops are crammed with Nordic treats and unique homewares.

Top tip: Try to avoid taking taxis in Bergen as they are expensive. Local buses are much more affordable and go all over the city. Especially too and from the airport, you could save yourself £50 by getting the bus.

Hike

Bergen is surrounded by 7 mountains, take advantage of that! Get on your hiking gear and start climbing. We went up Mount Floyen, Mount Ulriken and Mount Stoltzekleiven in a single day; which is no mean feat! Although all three mountains were stunning, the highlight of the whole trip for us was the summit of Stoltzekleiven. Up here you can find the most picturesque lake I have ever seen; which is made even better by being covered in a blanket of fresh snow.At the summit there are a whole host of walking routes you can explore, each one more beautiful than the previous.

As well as climbing each mountain individually, you can also do full on treks from one to another. For example, the 5 hour hike from Floyen to Ulriken is known to be a fun physical challenge, especially in the snowy winter months!

Top tip: Wear the right kit. Although the locals seem to climb mountains in leggings and trainers, don’t be tempted to do the same. The mountains are seriously tough, cold, snowy and wet. Make sure you’re ready for that. I recommend wearing proper walking boots with a good grip (the descent can be steep and slippy), waterproof trousers, hats, gloves, a wind and waterproof jacket, and lots of layers. Trust me, you’ll need them.

Eat

Bergen has been voted as one of the top food destinations in Norway, with a whole host of high quality restaurants which focus on local sourcing of ingredients. For dinner, our highlight was the 3 course tasting menu at Restaurant 1877. We also loved our meals at Colonialen (very posh 5 course tasting menu) and 26 North (their bread is ridiculously good). In the daytime, our highlight was shakshuka at Kafe Spesial which comes with perfectly baked pitta. Be sure to try their pistachio latte.

For coffee, we tried out a whole host of amazing little shops and cafes. Kaffeemisjonen offer every variety of coffee under the sun, and Bar Barista do an amazing mocha. We loved Det Lille Kaffekompaniet who served up delicious caffeine hits and the most incredible homemade granola with pistachio curd (I need to learn how to make that!).

On another note, Norway do damn good chocolate. Be sure to pop to the local supermarket and stock up while you’re out there. The best known brand is Freia and we tried their whole range, literally. The highlight is just the plain old milk chocolate bar. It is one of the best ones I have ever tried. A true 10/10. I bought 5 bars to bring home!

Top tip: Food is Bergen can be pretty pricey, especially in the local shops and cafes. Be sure to budget wisely.

Take A Tour

Norway is beautiful, and you need to get outside of Bergen to see some of the best bits. We took the extremely popular Norway in a Nutshell tour. This allowed us to ride on local trains, drive along the edge of mountains and sail through the centre of stunning fjords. It is a full day experience and pretty intense. You’re always on the move, but its a great way to see a lot of Norway if you’re short on time. We loved it. However, it is important to note that it is all based on public transport though and their isn’t much hiking or walking, which made me a bit fidgety. I wanted to explore on foot too!

Speaking on the Fjords. You must experience them. They were one of the highlights of the trip for us. Even if the Norway in a Nutshell tour doesn’t sound up your street, book yourself on a half or full day Fjord boat tour. You wont regret it. There is nothing more stunning than slowly sailing across silky smooth water, between snow capped mountains and scenery that looks like it has been plucked from a postcard.

Top tip: Wrap up warm for the Fjord tours. The wind on the water carries a chill.

Bergen took my heart, and I will certainly be back. I loved experiencing it in the winter months. It was a wild and beautiful place. Our whole trip truly felt like an adventure. I would love to come back one day and experience it in the summer months, as I think it would feel like a completely different!

Zanna x

March 21, 2017

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Guest Blog: How To Spend A Healthy Day In Cheshire

Cheshire…..more than just housewives

Hello lovely ladies, I am Lillie Pragnell and I am a qualified nutritionist, personal trainer and beauty therapist. Alongside working with my gorgeous clients helping them to feel their best possible selves I also enjoy blogging and vlogging to get my recipes and workouts to as many women as I can! Zanna, as you can imagine, is a massive inspiration to many women including myself and I am absolutely thrilled to be guest blogger for the Cheshire area.

Renowned for its beautiful landscapes, stately homes and of course The Real housewives of Cheshire, this fantastic county has so much to offer. So, I have made life easy and drawn up an itinerary to ensure you get to see the best of the area and also have time to exercise, relax and eat good food!

Weekend Itinerary

Friday evening: If you are looking to stay for a night or two, Cheshire can lay claim to having the most romantic hotel in the Europe!! That is quite an achievement. Edgar House is situated in the historic city walls of Chester boasting a 7-bedroom boutique hotel overlooking the River Dee and is in walking distance to the town centre. Chester is a historic and beautiful city where there is something for everyone and attracts visitors from all over the world for that reason. It has the most complete city walls and oldest Racecourse in Britain not to mention the 1000-year-old cathedral and the UK’s favourite zoo.

Saturday morning: For the outdoorsy types we have Delamere Forest, packed full of beautiful walks (including a Gruffalo themed walk!) and cycle routes and also offers a full schedule of bootcamps and classes for all ages and level. Every July they also host the Delamere commando trail 10km obstacle race, which is building in popularity and promises to excel previous years this year. With 18 obstacles, some natural terrain and others man made, this grueling course is not for the faint hearted. Are you up for the challenge? www.delamereoutdoorfitness.co.uk

Saturday Brunch: Chester has a great selection of cafes and restaurants. One of my personal favourites, especially after a gym session is The Health Hut located on Northgate Street. This health conscious company uses locally and ethically sourced seasonal produce and each meal is packed with protein and macronutrients.

Choose from ‘Power pancakes’ or ‘Oats to proats’ for a protein packed start to the day, washed down with my favourite, the ‘Body Builder’ shake. What I really like, is if you work or live in Chester or you are at an event or conference and looking for a take away delivery, then these guys are the best and will deliver healthy goodness straight to you! So no excuses! (www.thehealthhut.co.uk)

Saturday Afternoon: If it’s a trip with the girls and you fancy shopping and cocktails, I would recommend trying Commonhall Social (10 Commonhall St – just off the shopping streets) where you can sit in the rustic, chilled environment and refuel on a cocktail or craft beer. (www.commonhall.co.uk)

Saturday night: Head over to the East of Cheshire to find some local talent and live music at The Yard Alderley Edge…this place is so idyllic you would just live here if you could. This lifestyle venue (a car garage converted into a heavenly cocoon) is a family ran business created 4 years ago by reformed hippies Jeannie and Stewart Pickering to create a space for people to “gather and nurture feeding their cultural and holistic needs”. These include a selection of yoga dinners, monthly open mic sessions, book signings (including Madeleine Shaw) and private parties as well as hosting a 2-day event for International Women’s Day. If visiting, I would definitely tie it in with one of their events.

Located just across the road is The Yard studio where they hold a variety of classes and workshops such as Qigong, Tai Chi and postnatal yoga. If you are looking for something to wear to attend, they have an ethical and sustainable online shop selling stylish loungewear in collaboration with Beaumont Organic made from organic cotton with bamboo, alongside designer yoga mats in aid of a charity close to their hearts.

(www.theyardalderleyedge.com)

Sunday morning: There is always an Artisan market to visit, as they alternate between the local towns on different days throughout the month, offering a variety of beautiful art and craft pieces and locally sourced food and drink. My favourite one is Wilmslow market who host on the 3rd Saturday of the month. I love to spend a morning or afternoon there just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere.

Sunday afternoon: Spend the rest of the day at the luxurious Hale Country Club, (where you may also spot a few celebrities). This lavish gym, restaurant and spa is a great way to spend the day to workout, chill out and pig out.

Recently refurbished, this club boasts a state of the art gym with elite equipment as well as free weights, yoga studio and a pool. They have classes that will suit everyone ranging from every different type of yoga you can manage, Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Ashtang and hot, to name a few. However, if you would prefer something more energetic there is ‘Buns of steel’ and ‘Power Hour’ for you to work up a sweat too. The best bit comes afterwards when you choose to cool down and relax in their gorgeous wellness pool and thermal suite to soothe your muscles pains away. Then there is the champagne bar and restaurant… Need I say anymore?

I hope you all enjoy your weekend, thank you so much for reading my blog and please come to visit Cheshire soon.

In the meantime, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to join in with my mini workouts or follow some of the scrummy recipes I make.

Website: www.restartcoaching.co.uk

March 15, 2017

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Guest Post: Eight Vegan and Veggie Friendly Places to Eat in Dublin

Since transitioning to a plant based diet I’ve had to re-think my social life and where I get my morning coffee. Thankfully Dublin is bang on trend and the place is teaming with healthy cafes and restaurants. For me food has to be beautiful, interesting as well as healthy and a place has to have a great atmosphere. These are my current favourites spots.

Urban Health
Urban Health is a little outside of the city centre in Ranelagh. As they are one of the main juice cleanse outlets in Dublin naturally their juices and smoothies are phenomenal. They also have lots of healthy vegan and gluten free treats, a salad bar and gorgeous hot options including one of the nicest veggie burgers I’ve ever had. Aside from food they have an array of supplements on sale as well as some of their own products to include an alcohol free natural deodorant that they make themselves. They practice what they preach here and it’s a wellness cocoon.
The Fumbally
The Fumbally is one of those incredible places where you feel transported upon stepping in. Food wise expect fresh baked breads and cakes, salads on platters, and if you eat eggs I believe their poached green eggs are phenomenal. Fermentation jars line the wall and lattes are made with homemade sunflower seed milk. The furniture is all recycled and dogs are welcome. They host yoga evenings also. The Fumbally isn’t just a venue, it genuinely is a community.
Blazing Salads
One of the first places to offer gluten-free was, and sadly still is, just takeaway. Blazing salads has one of the best salad bars around as well as daily vegan specials, gluten free pizza and lots of healthy treats. Their Miso soup is a daily offering and the nicest I have ever had. On sunny days there is a bench just outside where you can enjoy your food, otherwise there is a small standing area to eat. Saint Stephen’s Green park is a five minute walk away and an ideal picnic location also.
Umi Falafel
Umi Falafel is incredible value and also naturally the best falafel in town. Served with couscous, fresh hummus and pitta it’s vegan heaven. I also particularly love their mint teas which are all fresh and loose leaf. Falafel doesn’t get enough credit and often times it’s not a delicious as it could be. Here the freshness is the secret and the end result is so tasty it feels like a serious treat meal, but is genuinely healthy. The Bread is freshly baked and the salads, sauces and pickles are all made to a family recipe. The atmosphere is super cozy and unpretentious.

Sova Food Vegan Butcher
Sova is owned by Bart who is a phenomenal vegan chef. This is the most glamorous of all the places I am mentioning although it’s informal and reasonably priced. Do not come here expecting simple fare – raise your expectations and they will deliver. This is vegan food at it’s best and most beautiful. Presentation is key. Every time I go I learn about how incredible vegan food can be, whether it’s discovering a new sauce, or vegetarian protein source or elevating my standards on how good a dessert can be. The atmosphere is buzzy and this is an ideal evening or date spot.
Bookings can be made through Facebook and it’s BYOB also which is great for groups. They have even hosted a wedding party here.
Two Fifty Square
Of everywhere on the list here is the most kid friendly. On a Saturday morning you will see bleary eyed parents downing their excellent roasted on site coffee while kids freely play about. It’s full of bustle and activity and excellent food. Their avocado on toast is topped with something incredible that I’ve yet to figure out to recreate at home. That, and the positive vibe and friendly staff have me consistently returning here. Weekends are busy and there may be a bit of a wait but it’s worth it!
Sprout n’Co
There are quite a lot of made-to-order salad places but Sprout is a cut above. They have an array of cold pressed juices and almond mylks, Nutshed energy balls and salted caramel slices, amazing coffee and also the best ingredients for your salads. For some people lettuce is lettuce but when you eat a vegan diet you notice the quality and here it’s always crisp, fresh and delicious. There is an array of hot, cold, cooked and raw options to add to your salads, incredible guacamole and dressings. You can sit down in all of the locations although during lunch hour it can get very crowded. Queues can be long but staff are quick and your salad will be made in front of you in a matter of minutes.
Two Boys Brew
Nestled just outside of the City centre is somewhere well deserving of a mention on this list. Again it’s not strictly vegan but the staff and chefs are extremely accommodating. The menu is simple and satisfying. This is the perfect spot for a lazy brunch or one of those days where you can take your time and enjoy the atmosphere. As the name suggests coffee is a big deal here. They sell lots of highbrow fancy coffee making equipment and their own coffee is worth the journey alone.
They also sell Loving Earth chocolates which Australian vegans living in Dublin are delighted with!

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March 12, 2017

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