Rockin’ the Suburbs with a Vegan Meal at Suburban Wholefoods

The industrial suburban belt of Kilsyth in Melbourne’s outer east is not exactly the most assuming destination for a vegan wholefoods meal. It’s only when customers begin to understand its proximity to local gyms and mid-way to the hiking trails nestled in The Dandenongs that Suburban Wholefoods’ location begins to make sense. What better way to fuel the body after a brisk workout than with a wholesome plant-based bowl and a soothing drink. What’s more, the micro-traveller in me was curious to explore a part of Melbourne that doesn’t have a reputation for being a travel destination.

Suburban Wholefoods kilsyth melbourne victoria australia vegan food travel gluten free

Suburban Wholefoods’ mission is to deliver healthy food and amazing coffee to the outer east, yet one key differentiator is realised early when I arrive through the glass doors. The crisp and bright, sunlit dining area dotted by plants complements how the menu works here. Superfood bowls for breakfasts, filled with seasonal fruits, grains and dates are appealing to those seeking a boosting breakfast or post-workout brunch, which can be easily paired with a hot or cold drink (from coffees to ‘wellness drinks’ like matcha or turmeric lattes and plant-based smoothies, kumbucha or herbal teas). Something more substantial is then found in the lunch options which is revealing to Suburban Wholefoods’ approach to wholesome food.

Suburban Wholefoods kilsyth melbourne victoria australia vegan food travel gluten free

Not all menu items are vegan here, but many start off this way, and this is when customers need to make a conscious choice to ‘build’ their plant-based bowl with the non-vegan extras like tuna, chicken or halloumi. I place my order for a Valley Bowl with the friendly and vibrant staff, and it’s clear that’s all I need to order – a bowl with no extras, no revisions, and no stress.

Suburban Wholefoods kilsyth melbourne victoria australia vegan food travel gluten free

The Valley Bowl arrives with a green spinach base and is loaded with baked pumpkin, sweet potato, broccolini, cauliflower roasted with turmeric, shredded kale, steamed green beans, all sprinkled with almonds, a wedge of lime aside a small vessel of tahini dressing. No sooner am I diving into this lunchtime bowl am I feeling revived with the nourishing goodness ever-present throughout. There are so many of my veggie favourites, all in one bowl, that I wonder why other customers would feel as if they need to add animal products to an already complete meal, even when they have to fork over extra dollars?

Suburban Wholefoods kilsyth melbourne victoria australia vegan food travel gluten free matcha
Suburban Wholefoods kilsyth melbourne victoria australia vegan food travel gluten free

What starts the meal off with good vibes is a soy milk matcha tea latte, another reason why the extras aren’t needed. To finish, a chocolate lavender cream sandwich cookie that’s vegan and gluten-free (and a couple of other flavours for good measure) brings the meal to a fulfilling and satisfying end; stocked here from local plant-based cookie company ACE Cookies. A meal that's all powered by plants and nothing else is how it should be.

Rock the outer east of Melbourne with an all-vegan superfood bowl from Suburban Wholefoods. Open Monday to Friday 6.00am to 3.00pm and Saturdays 7.00am to 3.00pm. Factory 11/ 114 Canterbury Road, Kilsyth South Victoria 3137 Australia.

Phone: 0435 407 918.

Changing Minds and Hearts on Vegan Night at The Independent in Gembrook

Oh, how things can change in just a couple of years in vegan food travel. I had blogged about a long lunch at The Independent Gembrook in 2015. At the time, my husband and I decided to dine there because there seemed to be enough side dishes on their menu, which read as vegan that could be ordered for a substantial shared lunch. We left the restaurant after our ‘DIY’ crafted long lunch feeling full and fulfilled, knowing that we were satisfied in experiencing Argentinean cuisine, sans animal-based dishes.

vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food

Fast-forward to November 2017, The Independent Gembrook has hosted its fourth Vegan Night. Diners booked in to experience Argentinean food over multiple courses, with or without matched drinks, and all crafted by Head Chef Mauro Callegari. Never during that lunch back in 2015 that I would see The Independent Gembrook host these nights on a vegan level. On further investigation, The Independent Gembrook now features its standalone vegan section on its regular menu. Again, my husband and I took the car through the rolling, winding hills and bushland of The Dandenongs in Melbourne’s outer east, to feast on eight share dishes over three courses. Only this time, I had to factor in gluten-free into the experience. Luckily, all dishes were customisable so I wouldn’t miss out and I was assured at the time of booking this would be taken care of by the kitchen.

vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food
vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food

Among the starters, I was served sweet potato crackers to dunk into the smooth white bean and olive dip before a serving of chickpea fritters. Classic dishes like smoked maple carrots with chilli, coriander and peanuts was relived (a noted favourite from 2015) and many more delectable dishes made their debut – a bowl of white gazpacho with watermelon, Argentinean roasted broccoli and cauliflower, and a hearty coconut potato and capsicum stew aside fluffy gingered white rice (together with condiments of toasted mandioca and kaffir lime chutney. To finish, gorgeous tropical tapioca crowned with fresh fruit and toasted coconut finished the feast off delightfully. Sweet and light, almost as if I was eating a puffy cloud.

Despite the culinary highs experienced at The Independent Gembrook’s Vegan Night, a weight within me was hard to ignore. During usual lunch and dinner services, the restaurant does prepare and serve suckling pig on request (pre-orders prior are mandatory). I understand that this is part of traditional Argentinean cuisine, and it’s my decision to support the vegan option in my travels. Some may say that to dine on Vegan Night, or from the vegan menu, one is still inadvertently supporting the venue financially in order to serve animal-based meals. This is an argument that’s prevalent in the vegan community and one of many that’s encountered regularly.

vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food
vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food

But, what if we as vegans did support the vegan option at non-vegan establishments? We are making a concerted effort to show businesses, through our patronage; there is a strong demand for vegan food practices. To book for a table of two on Vegan Night translates to two less customers eating animal products in the public domain, equating to the dollars and attention not being spent on such industries.

vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food
vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food

While there’s one tradition in supporting non-vegan eating habits, there is the burgeoning, counteracting tradition of living the vegan lifestyle which is gaining momentum. Historically, tradition has a means to hold on to old methods and beliefs without question. Equally, tradition does have the ability to embrace newer ways to express it in a vegan context.  Just look at the many omnivores deciding to become vegan?

vegan food travel melbourne ausdtralia the independent gembrook argentinian food

All that is needed is the foresight to recognise this. One’s tradition is another’s drive and desire to change what is no longer needed in the world. Ripple effects can only follow, for the good for everyone including animals. Supporting businesses in their potential to cook what’s possible couldn’t be any more grassroots to the process in changing minds and hearts.           

Saying Nup to the Cup with Vegan Food at Handsome Her

It was a subdued day in Melbourne last Tuesday. As grey clouds gathered in the sky, all I could think about was the many horses who would be racing at nearby Flemington Racecourse for Melbourne Cup Day; all in the name of the “race that stops a nation”. Horses who are, in my eyes, exploited and pushed to their physical limits (some are severely hurt, maimed or killed) just for the purpose of gambling. Those spectators who participate in the Melbourne Cup generally participate in getting dressed up to spend the day excessively drinking and partying.

Nup to the Cup Handsome Her Rosa Parks burger Melbourne Australia

As a Melburnian, days like the Melbourne Cup are when I’m desperately scouring the city in search of an alternative that brings some good to the world. Sometimes, it’s alongside those who are demonstrating against such a gut-wrenching way to exploit beautiful beings. It’s always beneficial to find the positives in the day and try to participate in some form of activism to motion the anti-Cup movement forward.

Melbourne Cup Day is also a public holiday in Melbourne. While it’s almost impossible to avoid the racing vibe of the day, it’s best to find something to do that involves the city’s increasingly call to arms to reject horse-racing and the cruelty involved. Earlier in the week, the city holds a Melbourne Cup parade through the city. It was promising to see up to 100 anti-race protesters for the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses holding up their placards, in full view of media, to communicate to the world that “horseracing kills” . During this year’s Cup ‘carnival’, the Coalition made it known that one racehorse dies on Australian horseracing tracks every 2.6 days.

Near Flemington Racecourse, the annual ‘Nup to the Cup’ protest was in full swing, complete with all-vegan picnic protest and a ‘Farshans on the Field’ event (that’s a tongue-in-cheek protest to the Melbourne Cup Fashions on the Field competition). Local vegan businesses were also getting behind the anti-horseracing movement by declaring Nup to the Cup and remaining open on the public holiday then donating a portion of their takings from the day to the Coalition. With the help of these donations, The Coalition then works towards setting up retirement plans for horses who are deemed too old or unsuitable to race; a way to reduce the unnecessary killing of racehorses. One such business that remained open was Handsome Her in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Brunswick.

Nup to the Cup Rosa Parks burger Melbourne Australia Handsome Her

Handsome Her is a 100% vegan café that serves up incredible food, a business that’s all run, owned and founded by women. It’s a getaway from the Cup madness that encourages creativity, activism and independent thought. Handsome Her is built on the four pillars of social justice, feminism, community development and environmental responsibility. Hence, Handsome Her decided to host its first Nup to the Cup Day. Filling burgers, among other fine choices, drinks, desserts and snacks roll across the menu pages here, and said burgers are all named after prolific women throughout history. I couldn’t go past choosing the Rosa Parks, aptly named after the American civil rights activist. Served on a brioche bun (or gluten-free bun for GF diners like me), there are rich layers sautéed mushrooms, grilled pumpkin slices, vegan béchamel and mozzarella, pea puree and a crumble aside grilled cherry tomato and almond feta salad with edible blooms from the garden.

Nup to the Cup cup Handsome Her Melbourne Australia cafe coffee

Each dish suggests an alcoholic beverage to pair it with, though (in the spirit of Nup to the Cup) I decided to stick to non-alcoholic beverages. The meal was started in the quaint and quiet courtyard out the back, yet the drizzly weather decided to brew as last mouthfuls were swallowed. Given many other Melburnians decided to come here, it was a short wait inside for a table; a wait that was met with admiration for the many diners who came out to support Nup to the Cup. Yet, I couldn’t help but think about the horses who were being forced to race in unpredictable weather conditions.

Nup to the Cup brownie slice Handsome Her cafe Melbourne Australia dessert

Once seated in the warm space inside, filled with retro furniture, local artwork and a glorious shelf of cups customers can use instead of disposable coffee cups, dessert was then selected from the cake cabinet. A devilishly sweet square of peanut butter and jam slice – a mix of sweet and salty layers of peanut butter and raspberry jam all sitting cosily on a chocolate brownie base. To side it, a soy latte was in order for keeping the chill from outside at bay. Two raffle tickets were also purchased to support Handsome Her’s fundraising for the Coalition. It didn’t matter if a prize was won or not because I knew the racehorses needed to win; win their battle in an industry that inflicts such cruelty onto them. I took moments throughout the afternoon to admire a gorgeous street art piece on Handsome Her’s white-washed walls, and it became clear that I had made the right choice in coming here on Melbourne Cup Day. Handsome Her hosted a sombre space in which to retreat from the Cup Day madness outside in the city.

Nup to the Cup wall mural Handsome Her cafe Melbourne Australia Brunswick

This is one way that a day dedicated to animal cruelty can be spent, in a way that all of us can spend in a service of greater good. We can all help to support the groups that are campaigning so passionately for the welfare of animals, and activate on an individual level to help change the perception of horseracing in our communities. Many travel to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup from within Australia and overseas. However, attendance numbers were reported lower this year when compared to previous years. Travellers should, really, spend their hard-earned dollars on ethical travel so animals are not exploited or abused. Finding events and locations where this can be achieved is the key. When travellers return home, they should then be spreading the world about these ways and the travel secrets they uncover.

I’m in no way advocating that people should not travel to Melbourne, but what I am advocating is for travellers to choose when they travel to destinations and what they decide to do when they arrive here. Demand thus drops and the animals will then suffer less, just through the simple act of travellers saying no; in this case nup to the cup. Saying no starts to change hearts and minds about long-held traditions which should not be held onto anymore.

If you want to experience Handsome Her for yourself then head to 206 Sydney Road, Brunswick 3056, Victoria Australia. Phone: 03 8383 7360.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9.00am to 3.30pm (closed Mondays)

This blog post is in memory of Regal Monarch, the racehorse who was euthanised a day after sustaining injuries from his horror fall during a race at the Melbourne Cup.

Vegan Comfort Food is Where the Home and Heart Lie

Last weekend involved much eating and meeting up with friends and family. There was a causal drinks meeting with a local film company at The Fox Hotel in Collingwood on Friday afternoon, dinner with a good friend at Vegie Bowl in Forest Hill Friday night, lunch with my parents at Br Black Juicery in Berwick on Saturday afternoon, and movie followed by dinner with girlfriends at Oneworld Knox Ozone on Sunday afternoon. By the time my head hit the pillow Sunday night, I hit a brick wall. As an introvert who generates her energy from within, there was nothing left in the tank once I arrived at the desk Monday morning. Still, despite impending fatigue, I felt nourished after a weekend spent with cherished friends and family.

vegan gluten-free food travel melbourne australia travel tips

As a travelling vegan writer and blogger, it has fascinated me that we as humans intricately tie our consumption of food with time in the company of others. While fascinating, it’s a way of life I have known all my life. My dad was a chef, and there have been many an afternoon or evening where he laboured his love into a meal shared amongst the family. Some of my friends also love catching up for a coffee, which turns into two or more over a few hours sitting in a sunny courtyard at a local meet-up spot.

While I’ve dedicated almost all my life to travelling and eating, the last seven or so years have involved travelling and eating from a vegan standpoint. What has baffled me in these last few years is the fact that much of humanity spends time with loved ones by finding home in eating comfort food at the expense of cooking slaughtered animals. Such animals, at some point in their lives, had spent their own family time nourishing their babies with feeds of milk; providing comfort to their own families much the same way as humans nourish and comfort their family members with food. How can we as humans comfort our families with ‘foods’ that have been taken from the lives of other animals?

When I announced to my family I was vegan those years ago, my dad was the hardest hit. He couldn’t quite understand, especially since we shared a common, close bond built through cooking and consuming food. Still, my dad has grown into his new role of chef to me, and he is excited to share his latest vegan creations when I arrive home to enjoy a meal with him. What’s more? He ate – almost – a full vegan meal at Mr Black Juicery last weekend (sans the milk in his cappuccino). And, yes, he enjoyed it. Their beetroot buckwheat pancake stack is pretty incredible, I must admit!

vegan gluten-free food travel melbourne australia travel tips

This one simple act of sharing a vegan meal with family, in the name of love, shows that it’s possible for vegan food can create a space where heart and home can be found. It made me realise that veganism, despite the utter distain that many people have for it (for reasons I still can’t grapple) can lead the way when it comes to those foundational aspects of being and living.        

So far, I’ve travelled through the Middle East, America and Canada, India and South-East Asia, not to mention through my homeland of Australia. What I’ve discovered is that all humans on earth have a shared connection with food. Food brings people together in love and harmony. Why can’t humans express this love and harmony through eating vegan food? Why is it so hard for humans to even contemplate the notion? Why is there an ongoing and constant need to kill other beings just so we can gather together in celebration? One’s suffering shouldn’t be at the centre of another’s joy. That’s just a tradition I cannot no longer accept, while it pains to me to remember those years in my life when I unconsciously did.   

Have you enjoyed a vegan meal with loved ones? If not, then I encourage you to explore the possibility of having a vegan meal with friends and family.

You can check out my Aussie Vegan Directory where you’ll find a long list of places around Australia, ordered by state, including solely vegetarian/vegan places as well as spots classed as omnivore.

Enjoy, with love.

To Market, To Market to Find Melbourne’s Vegan Boom

2017 in Melbourne, and worldwide, has been touted as the Year of Being or Becoming Vegan. Melbourne, Australia has witnessed a boom in local vegan markets across the city; vehicles to reach vegans and non-vegans on a hyper-local level.

A massive, one-day event on World Vegan Day in November has occurred in Melbourne for the past few years, now. After attending some of these events myself, it has become clear that the demand for vegan products and all-round vegan curiosity in general, has grown exponentially around town. Melbourne’s existing vegan micro-businesses, new vegan product creators and purveyors now have a number of markets to reach Melbourne’s existing vegan community and a burgeoning new fan base.

Let’s explore four of Melbourne’s newest vegan markets on the block in 2017.    

Compassionate Living Vegan Pop Up Market is roving around town

Melbourne’s suburb of Cranbourne East, in the outer southern fringe of the city, hosted an ethical and compassionate pop-up market featuring vendors with a sustainable living approach. Cranbourne East will also host a twilight format to this market on November 18, complete with live music. The Compassionate Living Vegan Pop Up Market commenced earlier in 2017 and will be expanding its reach to The Dandenong Ranges, the hills of Melbourne’s outer east, with a Valentine’s Day theme early February next year. The market series’ aim is to be grassroots with boutique-style flair.

Compassionate Living Vegan Pop Up Market vegan gluten free Melbourne Australia
Compassionate Living Vegan Pop Up Market cheese vegan gluten free Melbourne Australia

The vegan vendors are thus one hundred percent genuinely ethically-minded businesses selling cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly goods. Market-goers are encouraged to bring their own containers and bags for purchases, and non-vegans are asked to be respectful by not bringing non-vegan products with them. Entry is free at these pop-up events, which is an added bonus. Follow Compassionate Living here: @CompassionateLivingVeganPopupMarket 

Abbotsford Convent is doing good with its Vegan Mini Market

Abbotsford Convent in inner-city Melbourne, a village of historic buildings and sprawling grounds, has become famous with locals being a keystone multi-arts destination. Abbotsford Convent draws on its grounding vibes of doing good (the site was the old Convent of the Good Shepherd monastery) to host a Vegan Mini Market the first Saturday of each month from September to December. ‘Delicious and ethical produce and products’ are showcased to those seeking new vegan goodies. The Vegan Mini Market was founded by two local Melburnians who are keen to host stalls spruiking food, fashion and crafts, and is the perfect canvas for local vegan micro-businesses. Entry is also free here but onsite parking is at a fee. Follow the Vegan Mini Market here: @Veganmm

Surfing the Vegan Makers Market Mornington Peninsula

Boasted as a market for “all of Melbourne to enjoy”, The Vegan Makers Market Mornington Peninsula is coastal Melbourne’s first vegan market. About an hour’s drive from Melbourne, attending this market is the perfect excuse to go on a spring daytrip. The Vegan Makers Market Mornington Peninsula is another boutique market hosting food trucks, culinary vendors, handmade products and live music.

Vegan Makers Market Mornington Peninsula Victoria Melbourne Australia food lifestyle
Vegan Makers Market Mornington Peninsula Victoria Melbourne Australia food lifestyle

Hosted by events company Mermaid Sorority, the event features businesses selling products that are fully vegan, cruelty free and ethically sourced. Located at a civic leisure centre, food trucks are found out front outside, while the home, food and lifestyle stalls are found indoors. Visitors are tempted here in their hundreds – by their vegan curiosity, established vegan way of life, and the free entry and parking. Follow the organisers of the Vegan Makers Market here: @Mermaidsorority

Gigantic vegan eating guaranteed at the Big Vegan Market

In May this year, something incredible happened. Melbourne hosted its first Big Vegan Market, at the Royal Exhibition Building in the inner-city. Naturally, it seemed that every single vegan in Melbourne (and those who are thinking about being vegan) turned up. As such, organisers – Melbourne Vegan Eats – attracting an overwhelming number of vendors wanting to be involved.

Big Vegan Market vegan gluten free Mwlbourne Australia
Big Vegan Market gluten free Melbourne Australia
Big Vegan Market vegan gluten free Melbourne Australia

There were over 150 vegan stalls for Melburnians to swoon over who didn’t have to ask about ingredients. It was a market where vegans could wander and purchase freely and compassionately. On the day crowd numbers swelled by the hour, not to mention bellies and shopping bags. Visitors only had to drop a $2 entry fee in a bucket at the door before partaking in this gigantic vegan day. Follow the organisers of the Big Vegan Market here: @melbourneveganeats

Big Vegan Market Melbourne Australia vegan gluten free cake

Have you attended one of Melbourne's incredible markets? Have you been a part of the boom? Let me know how you've contributed to the vegan boom in Melbourne, and what you've discovered along the way!

Travelling Narcissism: The Excess Baggage of Travel

Recently, the internet has been shining a lens on the rise of the travelling narcissist.  

Let’s start by understanding what we mean we say someone is a narcissist. A narcissist is someone who has an “excessive interest in or admiration of themselves”.  An article was published by Matador Network recently, written by a self-confessed travelling narcissist discussing the rise of such a phenomenon.

travel travelling narcissism travel tips

While the author delved in to some detail around his own online ogling habits and both sides to his story, I started to ask myself why this would appeal to a traveller. How do self-indulging desires even emerge when you travel?

Many of us live in a privileged world of opportunity and travel is a privileged activity hundreds of thousands of people practice (given they have the funds and drive to do it). With the rise of social media, we as users are also enticed by the urge to share the best moments of our travelling lives, with little to no room for imperfection or ‘epic fails’. We are drawn to images of where and when life is perfect – the popular phrase ‘making memories’ comes to mind. Perplexingly, the moments we’d rather be sprinting from rarely appear in newsfeeds.   

travel tips travelling narcissism travel

Sure, there are moments in travel which are immortalised by social media in order to journal said moments. One thing that brings me joy as a traveller is to look back over my photos to relive said moments in my mind and the lessons they taught me. But when does this cross the boundary between retrospective reminiscence and blatant narcissism?

You could say that travellers who Instagram and Facebook their travels might be seeking that self-serving, self-gratifying sense of ‘look at me’. Is this now the aim for travellers – to ‘share’ their experiences with those in their virtual world without a sense of higher purpose or ambition? Travel can be a vehicle for communicating to the world how amazing one’s life is and, as Matador Network’s article explores, rather than challenging travellers in situations that may be dire (even detrimental) for locals or local habitats. It seems that some travellers may be stepping further away from learning and self-exploration, and rather be aligned with attracting more likes and gratification from friends or followers instead. Whatever happened to being inspired and motivated by our own curiosities to travel to a destination rather than following the road paved by others? It’s one thing to be inspired, but truly another when we are inspired to travel somewhere on a Facebook whim only to experience exactly what another traveller has experienced.

travel travelling narcissism travel tips

Each travelling experience is unique, so why not start with that thought? Why not start with that first step being: “where do I want to travel to and what can my world teach me?” Then, it’s a matter of removing ourselves from the frame. Shine the lens on what’s being discovered, what knowledge is being learned, what can others in foreign lands teach us and what information we can share with friends and family when we arrive home? I still believe that sharing on social media is a great way to share such knowledge, but it’s the way in which it’s being done that’s important. What other ways can we do this as travellers when we surrender to the open road? One, take more photos of what’s around you rather than you. Two, understand and respect local laws or rules rather than becoming oblivious to what’s happening in that moment. Three, use social media to educate why you can’t do something or can’t explore a particular area then start a conversation rather than creating a never-ending stream of perceived ‘awesomeness’.

travel travelling narcissism travel tips

Create your own travel itinerary and set travel intentions rather than simply following someone else’s. Switch off your inner auto-pilot in order to discover the road less travelled and pack your backpack with those mindful intentions. Finally, try to switch the phone off every once in a while. You’ll be surprised on what you’ll discover – both within your surrounds and within yourself.

Exterior acceptance doesn’t have to be included when you travel. Shed yourself from the excess baggage that is travelling narcissism and explore the beauty in the imperfection instead. 

So, Travellers – have you encountered any travelling narcissism while on the road? How do you shed this excess baggage and what lessons did you learn as a result? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

4 Nutrient-Packed Bushwalking Foods to Stash in your Backpack

Spring is springing up here in Australia and the countdown to more days spent in the outdoors is on. Bushwalking, hiking, picnics with friends are those stellar ways to maximise the benefits of our time outdoors – fresh air, warm sunshine, and soothing views of trees, plants, wildflowers and wildlife.

Nature walking bushwalking Melbourne backpacking tips food vegan

With bushwalking and hiking comes the need to fuel the body so it can go that extra mile and deeper into the wilderness. In our current world of fast, instantaneous way of living, it’s easy and tempting to pack processed and packaged foods in the daypack. It’s contradictory to think that we seek time in nature, yet we let ourselves fuel our bodies with foods that are as far-removed from nature as food can get. How then, in this current world, can we fuel our bodies optimally without the side-effects and comedown s from high levels of sugar, salt, caffeine?  It’s safe to say it’s easy-peasy to pack a daypack with healthy options so you can get deeper into your practice of getting back to nature.

Nature walking bushwalking Melbourne backpacking tips food vegan

Prepare a portable container with fresh vegetables and hummus dip

If we think about vegetables, they are almost always in our fridge at home. Chop up and pack a portable container with bite-sized broccoli or broccolini and cauliflower flowerets, carrot sticks, capsicum segments and side it with a generous dollop of home-made hummus (or a ready-made brand that’s as close to homemade as possible). If raw is too raw for you, then steam your veggies the night before and refrigerate ready to go. Go crazy on the broccoli – it actually has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. Bonus!

Nature walking bushwalking Melbourne backpacking tips food vegan

Add seaweed to promote brain power

You can buy sheets of dried seaweed in many supermarkets now, which is a great source of iodine. The brain loves iodine, even when you’re tackling that particularly hard hill climb and you need to put your mind in a state over matter and negative thought. All you need to do is take a couple of sheets of dried seaweed, fold over a couple of times and thinly cut it over your packed vegetables with a pair of scissors. Super easy and a super source of bushwalking brain power.   

Don’t forget to pack a good ol’ apple

I love coffee and tea. Do you? As much as they’re enjoyable, they can deplete your adrenal glands, making hiking and bushwalking all the more harder and unenjoyable. Instead of making a coffee stop on the way to your bushwalk, pack an apple in your daypack. Not only is an apple more replenishing for your body and you’re saving on non-biodegradable waste, an apple is jam-packed with all you need for a sustained bushwalk – way more energy than a coffee (think – fructose sugar rich and high in carbohydrates). 

Nature walking bushwalking Melbourne backpacking tips food vegan

Bushwalkers are nuts about nuts

Hopefully, you’re not anaphylactic or allergic to nuts so you can reap the bushwalking benefits of these morsels. Create your own raw trail mix container of nuts and seeds. Some of my favourites include raw cashews, almonds, macadamias, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds and dried goji berries. One of my least favourite nuts is the pecan nut, but be sure to add a couple in anyway. They’re packed heavily with anti-oxidants to help with cell repair when you’re hiking about in the wilderness, not to mention protein (like the rest of your mix).  

So, how do you power up for your bushwalking? Do you pack these foods into your daypack? Or, do you pack another food that’s equally beneficial? I’d love to hear your thoughts on your bushwalking foods.

Once your daypack is packed, you can then head out on a great Australian bushwalk. Check out my article over at Chief Active on where to go and what to hike around Australia.

A Laneway Lunch at The Organic Food & Wine Deli in Melbourne

When you think of organic food, as far removed from your mind might be a cobblestoned laneway in the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD. Back in 1999, founder Jeanette Taylor launched The Organic Food & Wine Deli with the intention to “offer the best in organic produce and ready-made food in an environmental setting for all to enjoy”. A traveller in her own right, Jeanette has an extensive background cooking in restaurants in Sydney, Canada and London.

The Organic Food and Wine Deli Melbourne laneways Degraves Street Australia

Once back in Melbourne, Jeanette cottoned on to Melbourne’s obsession with food, and promptly researched the best in organic produce that the city (and beyond) has to offer. All such ingredients were gathered together in the tightly knit ‘hole in the wall’ in Degraves Street; one of Melbourne’s key iconic laneway locations. Nutritious, ready-made food thus has been sold at The Organic Food & Wine Deli to locals, city workers and travellers alike ever since.

Dining in holes in the wall create the best travel experiences for me. The intimacy of such food stops gives travellers the unique opportunity to dial in to the urgent hum of the spot, the conversations that come and go and the shop-talk between staff. Travellers have an insider ability to chat with the purveyors on an even level about their creations.

The Organic Food and Wine Deli Melbourne laneways Degraves Street Australia

What’s easy about ordering at The Organic Food & Wine Deli is that the rotund cabinets (taking up the bulk of the space in this petite store) show off everything that’s available to purchase. Decisions can be made in a blink of an eye with quick-fire precision, and the order line moves at speed as the whir of an essential coffee machine up motors along (coffee culture is rampant in Melbourne’s laneways). From plump savoury parcels with golden, thickly baked pastry cases (think pies, pasties) to takeaway containers stuffed with the day’s salads, and freshly baked spongy cakes laced in smooth and generously smeared icing.

The Organic Food and Wine Deli Melbourne laneways Degraves Street Australia

What my precision-perfect order hones in on, is a couple of vegan, gluten-free choices that make for the perfect, comforting laneway lunch as pedestrians bustle by. I sit at a small wall bench and squat on a chair, careful not to take up too much space. Within a few minutes, lunch is served warmly and warmed – a slice of Vegan Kashmir. My fork slices off a corner of crusty maize pastry baked to golden, then scoops up mouthfuls of filling – brown rice and silverbeet risotto. The topping is just as comforting, smooth potato dusted with a medley of herbs, all on a ceramic plate.

The Organic Food and Wine Deli Melbourne laneways Degraves Street Australia vegan

What is tempting about this lunch is that the entire order is served at the same time. This means two things. One, I eat my slice of Vegan Kashmir way too quickly because I can’t wait to launch into my slice of cake. Two, I really should wait until after lunch to order cake. Going back to my lunch, the lovely slice of Vegan Kashmir is demolished in record time. A main serve that’s delicious and satisfying while leaving a small amount of room needed to start on the cake. It’s a large portion of orange poppy-seed cake with a thick smear of creamy icing. Such a tangy, zesty and sweet flavour, making my cake choice all the more moreish, topped by a slice of candied orange to nibble on.

What The Organic Food & Wine Deli serves are hearty homestyle meals that can be devoured and enjoyed in a locale that’s as far-removed from home as you can get in your travels. A humble hole in the wall experience in the middle of a capital city where home can be found.                    

Experience a laneway lunch at The Organic Food & Wine Deli for yourself. 28 Degraves Street Melbourne Victoria 3000 Australia. Phone: 03 9654 5157.

Open Monday to Friday 7.00am to 7.00pm, Saturday 8.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday 9.00am to 5.00pm.

There is a second store located at 603 Orrong Road Prahran Victoria 3181 Australia.