* Cherry Ripe Flaxseed Pudding *

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Since I’ve been living back in Berlin, life has been all go. I feel as though I’m in a constant state of schaffe schaffe, racing from one place to the next, making sure that I’m ticking off all of the things. Some days it’s not uncommon for me to bike at least 50 km around Berlin: 10 kms to work, 10 to the pool and back, 10 home. Shall we head to Kreuzberg for the evening? Bike to that gig across town? Heck yes! There goes another 20 kms. I’m burning fuel like nobody’s business.

After being caught out a few times and being so famished that I simply had to devour the most delicious, super unhealthy, but conveniently located option – an “extremely addictive” vanilla chocolate croissant from Le Crobag at the S Bahn Friedrichstrasse station (you have been warned) I’ve created this Cherry Ripe flaxseed pudding. It keeps me going, is packed with super foods and also caters to my incredibly sweet tooth which has really developed here in Europe (everything just tastes so damn gooood!). I usually take a serve of the pudding in a glass jar to work with me and have it mid-morning, especially if I plan to hit the pool over lunch. I’ll also keep a couple to have as dessert, which is a daily requirement (for me) in our house.

Schoenhaueser Allee Market

Cherries are the Super Foodie star of this dish; ruby red and delightfully juicy, they are readily available right now in the markets in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe. Cherries are one of Mother Earth’s most powerful anti-inflammatory sources due to the presence of anthocyanins, which research has revealed prevents free radical damage and improves memory. Cherries also contain melatonin, a hormone which assists in regulating sleep cycles, which is warmly welcomed on these short, sweltering nights.

Flaxseeds are also pretty damn wonderful as they provide a powerful dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which is great for both your heart and skin. Lignans are also present- a group of chemical compounds which are estrogen-type chemicals that also act like antioxidants in the body to counteract free radical damage. Flaxseeds also ensure the pudding gelatinises (in much the same way chia seeds would) so that you get that creamy, chocolate moussey-type effect.

This delectable combination of chocolate, cherries and coconut is my Super Foodie take on the divisive Cherry Ripe chocolate bar, which is often my first choice in the Cadbury Favourites chocolate box, but an absolute last resort for many others.

The flaxseed pudding can either be brought to a light boil before being transferred into your vessel of choice and cooled, or if you would prefer to keep this dessert raw simply mix very well, transfer and leave to set overnight in the fridge.

Cherry Ripe Flaxseed Pudding

Serves 4

1/2 a cup of kibbled flaxseed

1 1/2 cups of milk of your choosing (I used a cup of coconut milk and oat milk)

1/4 of a cup of cocoa or raw cacao powder

2 heaped tablespoons of honey or sweetener of choice

A sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt

2 cups of cherries, pitted

A teaspoon of honey or a sweetener of your choice

A dash of vanilla

1/4 of a cup of coconut chips

In a saucepan, combine the flaxseed, milk, honey or sweetener of your choice and Himalayan rock salt and mix well. Depending on your option, either bring to a light boil and transfer into vessels of your choice and cool; or transfer into vessels and leave in the fridge to set overnight.

An hour or two before you would like to serve, in a saucepan lightly boil the pitted cherries, honey or sweetener of your choice and vanilla. Allow to cool.

When ready to serve, lightly toast the coconut chips. Spoon the stewed cherries onto the flaxseed puddings and sprinkle with toasted coconut chips.

 

* Berlin’s Besonderheit: There’s Something in the Air *

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What has struck me lately about living in Berlin is that I really feel like I’m part of something special; that there is something wonderful in the air and we’re all here experiencing it together. This place is filled with so many colourful characters following their hearts and doing what they love, with other like-minded souls, in a liberal, creative and hugely historic place. It creates this exhilarating environment like nowhere else I’ve been.

Whilst hanging out at Mauerpark (a giant flea market which happens every Sunday in Prenzlauer Berg) on a stinking hot day, the blinding sun high in the sky, fresh on this side of the summer solstice, we were drawn to a band playing under the shade of the trees. Initially drawn in by the large crowd which had gathered, and the rendition of a stonking techie track they were playing, it was like nothing else that I’d seen nor heard – the band were making beautiful music with the aid of everyday kitchen pots. Noisy Pots, a fitting name for the band, hail from Prague and come up to Berlin to play gigs in the city and usually play at Mauerpark. Until they get shut down, yet again, by the Polizei for not having the correct busking permit. Tut tut.

To be a part of this crowd who were totally entranced by these exceptionally ingenious, talented guys playing beautiful music on pots; with an additional layer of awesome from a guy dancing beside the band who was quite possibly once of the best dancers I’ve yet seen; to witness the disbelieving smiles on peoples faces. It was a truly Berlin moment, a time where I felt so happy to be here sharing this delight with others.

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Mauerpark

Last weekend I was also stoked to see Beirut, an old school fave of mine, at the Zitadelle. Spandau. After biking through massive Volksparks, along the river path through hundreds of Gartenhäuser, we rocked up to the gig and in a moment of true serendipity, the first people we laid eyes on sold us tickets for a fraction of the door price. We wandered into the citadel and were stunned. An ancient fortress which was built on top of a medieval fort on an island where the Havel and Spree rivers meet, it was completed in 1594. It is now used for music festivals, events and exhibitions, and houses creative spaces, museums, galleries and a restaurant.

The massive dance area was lined with stalls offering an array of street food and refreshments. We ate our vegan hamburgers, washed down with Berlin’s finest, with hundreds of other chilled out peeps soaking up the venerable surrounds. Once the synth pop band started, I was amazed at how relaxed, peaceful and enchanted the crowd were, which was naturally heightened once Beirut started to play. It was almost meditative, the crowd not really dancing like we would back home, but barely swaying, mellow, heads nodding in time with the music, totally entranced by Beirut’s captivating music. Again, everyone had smiles on their diles, open and sympatico to one another. It was pure grace.

Beirut

Beirut, Zitadelle Spandau

And then there are times when I just have to laugh at the eccentricity of this place: the poet who wrote my Beau and I deeply spiritual poems whilst hanging out in a park in Mitte in the very early hours of the morning; the lifeguards at the (indoor) swimming pool smoking at the waters edge whilst watching swimmers lapping the pool and retirees aquaerobicising; the young boy shouting at me as I crossed the road whilst the traffic light was still red (“the red man is still there, you MUST wait for the green man!”); the bus driver who couldn’t pull up to the bus stop without crashing into the curb; walking through Savignyplatz and a man unbeknownst to me standing up, waving and giving me a wink.

There is a besonderheit, a uniqueness or distinctiveness about Berlin that lures you in, get’s you every time. Berlin, don’t go changing – you’re totally glowing right now.

 

 

 

* Staying Bright-eyed and Bushy-tailed on Holiday *

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The Streets of Avignon

Living in Berlin gives you access to many amazing countries, all just a short flight or train ride away. I’ve been super lucky to have spent the last week in L’Isle sur la Sorgue, a delightful village close to Avignon, and Barcelona. We attended an amazing wedding in France and carried on to meet some more dear friends in Spain.

Naturally, it was all laid on for us. Enough rosé and sangria for a village fiesta, the best cheeses I’ve ever tasted and croquetas, my new favourite deep-fried morsel of goodness. And don’t even get me started on the patisseries and boulangeries.

Place du Palais

When you’re on holiday in another country, it’s all about new experiences and grasping those opportunities that come your way, which for many of us means devouring a whole lot more of the good stuff and not keeping up with the usual exercise routines. It got me thinking about ways to not feel too sluggish, überunheathy and heavy whilst you are exploring the world. Here are a few top tips that I’ve learned from my own travels:

Move: Exercise everyday, preferably first thing in the morning. Just get up and go for a run, walk, bike ride, swim, or do a few sun salutations on the beach. I also pack a Pilates resistance band and some yoga socks for variety, which are both light and won’t take up to much space in your luggage. This makes you feel instantly better after what was probably rather a joyous evening with the odd refreshment or three. It also means that the evenings are kept free for much of the same carry on. And repeat.

There are also lots of opportunities for incidental exercise on holidays. There is no better way to see the city than on foot or on a bike, so ditch the sweaty public transport options and do your body and bank balance some good.

Delightful French Buildings

Vegetables: Try to eat as many as possible so that you don’t go overboard on rich, heavy foods. I’ll often have lunch or dinner consisting of a big plate of salad and vegies, as well as some protein like chickpeas or chicken. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I believe that beetroot is in fact the key to life, so I’ll buy it in any form from the grocery store or village market. It means that I feel a whole lot healthier, as consuming beetroot ensures that my vitals are functioning optimally.

Snacks: You never know how much you are going to absolutely love somewhere and want to stay for longer. You could easily spend the best part of an afternoon wandering around La Sagrada Familia being utterly captivated. Having some fruit, nuts, seeds or wholegrain crackers on hand will ensure your blood sugar doesn’t get too low and you start freaking out. Depriving your body of the fuel that it needs to function means that you’ll get hangry (hungry angry) and crave instant energy, often in the form of saccharine sweet, stodgy food. After you’ve had your second slice of tarte tartin and you’re making eyes at the macaron shop, your body moves in to overdrive mode, which creates a vicious cycle of eating anything and everything you can get your hot little hands on.

Gaudy at his Finest

Indulge, but don’t go overboard: If I know the evening will probably consist of having a few glasses of vin de pays, I won’t have a gelato in the afternoon. Heck yes, I’ll have the petit gâteaux and have yet another ohemgee Super Foodie moment, but I won’t have it every day that I’m in France. This ensures these little indulgences remain special and will long be remembered after the holiday.

To me, travelling to other beautiful countries is what summer in Europe is all about. Now is the perfect time to make your own swift exit to a place where you can’t understand the local news and be blissfully ignorant – you’ll probably find it rather liberating.

 

* Deutschland, Hallo *

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Goodness, it feels so verdammt gut to be back in Deutschland. I really have left my heart in two places – New Zealand and Germany are worlds apart but both feel like home to me.

Here I feel so unbelievably free. Free from the bitter weather back home and the people who are falling into their winter slumps. Free from the confines of what constitutes a “normal life”. Free from the mind-numbing politics I used to have to deal with in my previous world. The only remotely political thing I have to contend with here is which organic supermarket am I going to buy groceries from? The one which has the more sustainable packaging or the one which makes those highly addictive dark chocolate amaranth bars from the healthier, less refined ingredients?

I’m just busy doing my things: biking around in the sun, reading in parks, doing laps around the Sportplatz, practicing yoga, a spot of meditation here and there and eating my fill of Dönerkebaps. You know, first I have my pot of tea and then I do the things.

Sportdplatz Prenzlauer Berg

I also feel so wonderfully alive  – in Berlin you can just be. It may have something to do with the warm weather, the pink hawthorns in full bloom, the whiffs of herb through the streets, my propensity for Club-Mate. Or perhaps it’s that even though in the last few years I’ve only spent summer times in Berlin and haven’t had to endure a long, harsh winter, these guys have a good thing going on. Here are a few of my faves:

For starters, people bike everywhere. This makes for a whole lotta spaß, helps you burn off some fuel after a night and is a great way to keep fit whilst working on your tan. Who needs to pay for a taxi or ride the inferno-like trains when you can push your pedals? It’s good for both you and the environment.

As most people are apartment dwellers, people hang out in parks or along one of the many canals or rivers. Pick up a brewski or a Club-Mate and a wee Schnäpschen from one of the many Spätis (late night dairy) and you are away laughing. It makes for some über interesting chat when it’s party time with other people from every corner of the globe. This is a stark contrast from New Zealand where most people generally hang out in their own backyards, so I’m loving this extra-social element.

Canal Life

The organic supermarkets or Biomarkts are amazing. As a superfood writer, Berlin is paradise for me. Because there is such a demand for organic food and the government incentivises the industry, it keeps the cost down and there is a huge variety of interesting and health-enhancing superfoods that really get me amped. I’m going to write more about this at a later date so stay tuned.

The Sommerbads are so so good. These outdoor swimming pools have everything I want in a pool: a newspaper or magazine for sale on arrival, a variety of pools to swim in, trees to shelter under, slides and volleyball courts. Der Sommerbad Kreuzberg ist mein allerliebsten closely followed by the Sommerbad Neukölln.

I do however feel myself becoming more German by the day. How dare they walk in what is clearly the designated bike lane, damn tourists. Mein Gott, will that person in the queue please pack their groceries just a little but faster so that we can all get on with our lives? Why are you not on the right side but hogging the left side of the escalator, and worse still, just standing idle, when I clearly need to get past?!

Berlin is a world away from the small city of Dunedin where I live in New Zealand – I’m really in the big smoke here. As the wise yogi Sadhguru says, “if you want everyone to fall in love with you, the first thing is, you must fall in love with all of them”. I have to remember to chill out, give love, rise above and be much more tolerant as I share this city with the millions of other people in this melting pot who call Berlin home.

I’m super stoked to be sharing this journey with you through Super Foodie and my new gig on Berlin Logs as well. Tschüssi!

 

 

* Austria *

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Schwarzsee, Kitzbuhel

Austria, or Österreich as the locals call it, is the land of alps, Apfelstrudel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I arrived in this stunning country after a long flight from New Zealand to the bright sun, the temperature warm and a hint of summer in the air. I was in Österreich for a week, initially staying with my dear friend Katie and her family in Kirchberg in Tirol, near the famous resort-town Kitzbühel and then on to Salzburg.

My first impression of Austria was its strikingly beautiful and verdant countryside. The alps are still sprinkled with snow and as it’s high spring, greenery is peaking and blossom is in full swing. As a big fan of blossom and springtime in general, I was in heaven. Words of hope, like “summer is coming” adorned the kitchen walls of a few of the houses I visited and to me this is what spring is all about – hope that the warmth of summer will bring light into lives. Winters are long in this part of the world.

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An Evening Stroll in Kitzbuhel

Another observation is that the people in Austria are incredibly sweet. Upon getting off the train, a gentleman carried my luggage and made sure I got to where I needed to be without me lifting a finger. As I’m a bit of a princess, this really did appeal. People were only too willing to help: “You need a place to live in Berlin? I’ll ask my friend”; “You wanna see some sights? I’ll take you to Innsbruck”. Hearts of gold, these Österreicher.

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Tania Wimmer Yoga Studio, Kirchberg

I was lucky enough to take part in an amazing yoga class in Katie’s hometown. The class was led by Tania Wimmer, a New Zealand ex-pat, in her purpose-built yoga studio which has the most amazing view (see above). The class was filled with ex-pats and English-speakers and I was happy to hear that they all spoke very good Denglish. In case you haven’t heard of this language before, it’s a mix of German and English and what my Beau and I speak zu Hause. Tania is everything that you want in a yoga teacher – warm, encouraging, funny and heavily involved with the health and wellbeing of the community. She is also organising the Yoga Festival Kitzbühel in early September, which looks to be a total winner.

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Wochenbrunn

Another aspect of life in Austria that I was super pleased about is the abundance of places to kneipp. This is something that is not commonly done or known about in many parts of the world, but is something I’ve been doing for a long time now. The health resort I used to work at in Kaiteriteri, New Zealand, is owned by a Southern German man who knows how good it is to kneipp and has a stream dedicated to kneipping in the middle of the forest.

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Clara having a wee Kinder Kneipp

Kneipp therapy is a form of hydrotherapy that was developed by the Bavarian priest Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897). Walking barefoot through water or on wet grass, stones, or snow is one of Kneipp’s very effective techniques. The benefits of kneipping include improved circulation, which increases the blood supply to the organs, skin, nerve centres and strengthens the immune system. There are places to kneipp all over this part of the world, particularly in Austria, Switzerland and Bavaria and there is nothing better than a kneipp in the (very) fresh water after a hike in the hills.

When my Beau and I are not living in Europe, we try to live like we are in Europe, so we kneipp as often as we can in summer. This can certainly lead to some strange looks from people and can clear an area pretty quickly. I mean, so what if we’re kneipping in a fountain in the middle of the botanicals? Don’t knock it till you try it, uncivilised folk.

 

My next stop was Salzburg, which if you’re unfamiliar with its history, is where The Sound of Music was filmed and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), one of the most influential composers, like ever, was born. Much of my time was spent meandering through this pretty little Stadt, down the narrow, cobbled alleys of the Old Town, soaking up the history with thousands of other tourists. Many a song from The Sound of Music was heard throughout the Old Town and Mirabellgarten, where slightly humiliated-looking tour guides were giving their “original” tours of the city. The Sound of Music equates to big bikkies around here.

Even though the weather was inclement, I loved seeing the beautiful chestnut trees in full bloom, in either pink or white, lining the streets and Salzach river. I also went on a most beautiful walk, from the Festung Hohensalzburg, the massive fortress which towers above the city, along the Mönchsberg to the Museum der Moderne. In the light spring rain, with the chorus of the birds going about their springtime tasks, the dramatic alpine views and enchanting castles along the path, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly free.

* Hot Winter Tips *

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Ross Creek Waterfall

Ross Creek Waterfall. Leith Valley, Dunedin, New Zealand. 

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is coming…

As the days become shorter and the temperature cooler, I’ve chatted with a number of people who are really freaking out about the arrival of winter. Where we live in Dunedin, New Zealand, although the winters here are filled with stunning days, the air crisp and the sunlit sky a muted blue, they can be long and bleak, peppered with periods of sleet, hail and horizontal rain; and for many of us, just a bit depressing. Even the hope of spring and the arrival of the sweet scent of blossom towards the end of winter isn’t enough to be released from the winter slump.

I’m feeling very grateful this year as I’m evading the winter and heading to Europe for 4-5 months on a cultural sabbatical; to reinvigorate and replenish my world. I’ve resigned from my corporate job, which has been highly liberating in itself, and I’m flitting off in a few days. I can already taste the freedom.

Anyhow; after my fair share of winters in Dunedin, I’ve learnt how to make the most of them and here are a few of my hot tips for surviving winter:

1) Holiday

There needs to be light at the end of a tunnel in the form of a tropical break, or at the very least, going somewhere warmer than where you live. Heading away to a Pacific island, Bali, Byron Bay or even the Bay of Islands will do you the world of good. Planning your trip for later in the winter or early spring is best. So much of the experience is the anticipation of going on the trip, so this will help you to remain positive through the darker days. Remember, eyes on the prize. And repeat.

2) Vitamin D

Go to your doctor and get a prescription for Vitamin D. There is a direct link to the amount of vitamin D in your body and your mood. One theory is that it helps to create positive feelings by altering dopamine levels in the brain. When you’re not getting enough sunlight in winter, your body doesn’t naturally produce vitamin D, so getting a prescription will make a big difference to your temperament. If you can, beg for a 6 month supply (normally doctors will only prescribe a 3 month supply) as in actual fact, winters in the south of the south do last that long.

3) Swimming

Heading to the pool transformed my winter last year. Changing into my swimmers, diving into the pool and doing laps or aqua jogging was invigorating, provided a really good workout and gave me a wee taste of summer a few times a week. The hot spa afterwards was the icing on the cake and I always left the pool feeling energised, toasty warm and pretty damn good about myself and the world.

4) Meditation

The benefits of meditation are aplenty and are especially helpful in winter, as a regular practice increases happiness and immune health. Studies have shown that there is a boost in brain signaling in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is predominantly responsible for positive emotions; while there is a reduction in activity in the right side, responsible for negative emotions. Meditation has a positive effect on your immune system by boosting antibodies and slowing down the reduction of the CD-4 cell count, which are immune cells associated with keeping the virus from multiplying. There are numerous free meditations online so try out a few and do whichever one suits you best.

5) Get outside

Even if it is bitter, get out there. Staying indoors, not moving your body and making yourself feel (momentarily) better with self-saucing chocolate puddings and lashings of cream may lead you on a downward spiral of downheartedness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of a hearty dessert, but feeling frumpy in winter may not give you much motivation to leave the house. Rug up, connect with nature (the Ross Creek waterfall is a personal fave) and enjoy the serenity.

6) Keep up the good work

Continuing with your regular exercise regime and eating a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and other wholefoods will assist you to feel good during the winter. During the colder months, your body will naturally crave heavier, more calorific foods so it’s important that you balance that with your movement of choice. Even if you just can’t leave the house, do a yoga or HIIT (high intensity interval training) class at home. Again, there are many options online. You’ll also feel that much better on the beach in your bathers when your holiday comes around.

 

* Nectarine and Orange Blossom Chia Jam *

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Nectarine and Orange Blossom Jam

Nectarines are rocking my world right now. As the summer weather comes to a close here in New Zealand, orchards and gardens are heaving with delicious fruit, ripe for the picking.

Nectarines have always been my most treasured of the stone fruit bunch. Sweet yet tart, soft with a bit of bite, I often mourn their presence when supplies slowly dwindle after summer. I’m making the most of them while I can and I suggest that you do as well if you are living in this part of the world.

Nectarines are a super food star as they are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts into vitamin A, which helps keep your skin radiant and teeth strong. They are also high in vitamin C, which is essential at this time of year to protect your body against sickness; as well as fibre and potassium, which ensure the body is functioning optimally.

The addition of orange blossom water instantly takes me back to my time in the Jordan and the wonderful way that traditional Middle Eastern delicacies use a hint of a floral fragrance to transport you somewhere exotic and far away. Much time was spent wandering the different neighbourhoods of Amman, soaking up the sights, scents and sounds of the Old Town, popping into eateries when I needed to be refreshed, creating some of my most perfectly enduring food experiences. I treasure these memories, when the Middle East was much more peaceful and stable, and live in hope that this harmonious state will return.

The key to using orange blossom water (and rose water) is to use it sparingly – you want a subtle hint, not an extreme sensory punch. Orange blossom water is widely available these days, in the international section of the supermarket, delicatessen or Middle Eastern store.

Making a chia-based jam is a healthy way to get your jam jamming as the chia seeds “gelatinise” when mixed with liquid, so the jam doesn’t require a thickening agent like pectin or an immense amount of sugar to set, as is the norm with a traditional jam. This lusciously floral fruity jam freezes well and will last for about two weeks in the fridge.

Nectarine and Orange Blossom Chia Jam

4 cups of nectarines, chopped (about 1.5 kgs)

1/2 a cup of coconut sugar

A tablespoon of orange blossom water

A tablespoon of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of ground chia seeds *

Blanch the nectarines until the skins split (about a minute or two). Refresh with cool water and peel.

Chop the nectarine flesh into small pieces, transfer into a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes until the fruit starts to break down and become syrupy. Add the coconut sugar, orange blossom water and lemon juice and cook for a further 5 minutes. You can make the jam as smooth or chunky as you like by mashing the mixture until it is the desired consistency.

Take off the heat and stir in the ground chia seeds and allow to thicken. It will become obviously thicker at this point (and slightly more once fully cooled), but if you would like a thicker consistency, add an extra teaspoon of ground chia seeds.

Transfer into glass jars once the jam has reached room temperature and pop into the fridge. Enjoy the jam on toast with lashings of butter or on Greek yoghurt, ice cream or creamy dessert.

*You can use normal chia seeds, but I prefer ground when making jam as the chia seeds blend into the mixture better.