Although only a 3-hour flight from Hong Kong, Koh Samui seems like worlds away. From the moment you enter the air space and look down at the crystal clear sparkling blue waters and the white sand beaches you realise you’re in paradise.
The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui is nestled within the cliffs looking out at the gorgeous turquoise sea and is the perfect getaway from Hong Long without having to travel a million miles.
Jesper and I recently celebrated our 13th anniversary and what a pleasure it was to spend it at The Ritz-Carlton and child-free might I add. We had just found out we were expecting another child so a celebration or “baby-moon” and some alone time was well in order.
Being lovers of food we were impressed with the many dining offerings within the resort including a candlelight dinner at Sea Salt where fire dancers performed just feet away. As our stay was quite short we enjoyed spending all our time there. We wanted to add a few special touches to our trip so the resort happily helped to arrange a Thai cooking class with the Chef for us where we learnt to make some of our favourite Thai dishes. We travelled to the local markets and sourced all the fresh ingredients to make our dishes. Jesper was in photography heaven while I was just in local Thai food heaven. During our class we painfully learnt how unhealthy our favourite dish mango sticky rice is, so I will be for sure experimenting on how to make this dish healthier at home. I can never look at mango sticky rice in the same way haha.
To make the trip extra special we enjoyed a luxury boat trip across the surrounding areas in the resort’s own yacht. The gods were on our side that afternoon as the sunset was perfection. We got to snuggle, dance and canoodle. All very romantic stuff haha.
Our villa seemed to sit within the clouds above the sea. We were more than happy to stay right inside the room or in our private infinity pool and watch the clouds float by.
This trip was a special one for so many reasons and as far as The Ritz-Carlton, we will be back soon. Maybe with the monsters in tow next time.
If you want to experience The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui, visit http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/koh-samuiDecember 11, 2018
Recently, I have once again embarked on a journey of vegetarianism. I have been off and on again vegetarian since I was 12, basically only eating meat the last couple of years, after giving birth. Now that I’m back on track, it has been a real struggle to find a wide variety of sophisticated restaurants that cater to a vegetarian palate. I was very impressed by Aqua’s newest healthy creation, that is pushing experimental boundaries of luxury dinning. Aqua is one of the most trend setting fine dinning restaurants in Hong Kong. Their newest concept is based on preparing dishes at 42º degrees or below with ingredients that are extremely fresh and raw they retain many health benefits; and have successfully taken classic Italian dishes to the next level. I was extremely lucky, they prepared my 4 course meal completely vegetarian and it was absolutely beautiful and delicious. However for me when I eat at any fine dining establishment I’m usually left starving and craving a burger after 5 mins.
If your looking to elevate your vegetarian game or non vegetarian too of course. I highly recommend giving this a try. If raw food is not your thing then the views and cocktails will impress even the hardest to please.June 22, 2018
- Photography by Jesper McIlroyOur family was recently invited to be the first guests to stay at Bay Bac Villa, which is a brand new villa located on the property of The Intercontinental Denang. From the moment we arrived at the airport, we were received with 5 star treatment. It’s those little touches, like snacks and cool aroma towels in the van, that really get me going. Ever since this trip, every time we get into a van or taxi, India asks “where are the smelly towels and snacks.” Lord help me, what have we created!While driving to the location of the hotel/villa we were called by our delightful butler, inquiring to see how we were doing, or if there was anything special we needed upon your arrival. I mean, that’s pretty special. The drive to The Intercontinental from the airpot takes about 30 minutes, and is absolutely gorgeous, with views out into the ocean as far as your eyes can see. A 1.5 hours flight from HK and 20 mins to the hotel makes it a super easy destination.Once we arrived, we were blown away. The hotel is located in the heart of Son Tra Peninsular Nature Reserve on a pristine cliff facing the ocean, with a vista unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A hotel buggy took us on a small tour of the magnificent hotel grounds and as we made our approach to our villa we knew we were in for a treat.Bay Bac Villa has a strong post modernist look, which makes it very unique. It feels less like a holiday rental and more like an artists fancy home. The villa consists of 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 pools, a large living room, and kitchen area. It is extremely private and the ocean views are breathtaking. You also have a great view of the hotel from the pool deck.Although the villa is not situated exactly near the main hotel, its a very short walk, or if your feeling a bit lazy, you can always have your butler drive you where ever you like. We loved the walk, which takes you through the lush green property and we loved exploring every nook and cranny.The hotel’s facilities are undoubtably 5 star, living up to its award winning reputation.We started our days watching the sunrise from the very unique Citron restaurant. What makes this restaurant so special is their floating tables that sit above the hillside, 100 meters above sea level, with spectacular views of the entire bay and surrounding mountains. Make sure you go earlier though, as it’s first come first serve, and well worth the early wake up. In our case, We were lucky as Freija basically never sleeps, so we had no problem getting best seat in the house!Our days consisted of dropping the kids off to the kids club, which I have to mention, because it is freaking amazing. We literally couldn’t get India to leave. We had to drag her out though as we wanted to spend time with her too.After the kids club we would chill in the kids pool, which is lovely and shaded. Then we would head to the gorgeous L_O_N_G bar to relax in their beautiful day beds and have lunch. L_O_N_G also has very special design. You are taken back in time to a colonial era with these beautiful big fans and high ceilings. I could stay there all day and read, if I wasn’t travelling with children of course. Most afternoons we enjoyed time as a family in our villa, and watched the cheeky monkeys steal our fruit. There are also other amazing restaurants within the hotel including , La Maison 1888 which is now home to the world-renowned three Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire. It was also crowned as “World’s Leading Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant 2017 and Top 10 in the World’s Best New Restaurants 2016 by CNN. We didnt have the opportunity to dine there this time as they don’t allow children. That makes a lot of sense to me -God, if I was there with no kids on a romantic getaway, spending that kind of money, and had kids like mine on the table next to me, it would not be cool haha. Just kidding, kinda. We also could have easily hired a nanny, but we decided to make the most of our incredible villa, and spend time together as a family. This trip was to celebrate, my birthday, India’s birthday and Jesper and I’s 5 year wedding anniversary and to be completely honest with you it was the perfect choice. I hope to return soon to this little slice of heaven in Vietnam.June 10, 2018
Photography Shawn Kei
As a fun way to celebrate the launch of Lane Crawfords new range of natural and organic beauty products they invited me to come and share some simple recipes incorporating a few of these products. I couldn’t think of a lovelier way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon than with like minded people who enjoy to learn and create. Thanks to everyone that joined me and especially to those of you who weren’t afraid to get your hands dirty. I really do hope my demonstration inspired you to go home and create your own versions of these 2 very healthy, easy but delicious treats.
Here are the recipes that I shared on Saturday in case you missed out.
BLUEBERRY PROTEIN BALLS
1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/3 cup of dried blueberries
1/2 cup of dark chocolate or cacao paste
1 serving of Super Elixir Chocolate Nourishing Protein
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean powder
2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- Place all ingredients except blueberries into a food processor and blend until completely combined. This should take around 30seconds – 1 minute max.
- Add blueberries and blend but only to mix in the blueberries not to make them disappear into the mixture. We want the blueberries to stay whole.
- Take about 1 tablespoon at a time and roll into a ball.
- Your balls are now down however you could roll them in chia seeds, cacao nibs or coconut to make them look extra pretty.
These will stay fresh in the freezer for a month or in the fridge a week.
SUPER SMOOTHIE BOWL
2 Frozen over ripe bananas
1 Frozen avocado
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1/4 cup of fresh almond milk
1 serving of The Super Elixir Alkalising Greens
a variety of nuts, fresh fruits or granola of your choice
- Add all ingredients into a powerful blender and blend until well combined. You want this mixture to be thick so use your almond milk to control the texture by only adding in a little by little.
- Once you have a nice thick texture place in bowl and add your chosen toppings. It’s that easy!
These are 2 very simple recipes that literally anyone can try at home. You can make big batches of the balls on the weekend and have them ready for the whole week as a quick snack, pick me up or naughty but nice treat.
Don’t forget I also have an awesome competition running on my instagram at the moment. All you have to do is tag me @caragmcilroy @lanecrawford and #LCNATURALBEAUTY for a chance to win a bag of Lane Crawford goodies filled with full size natural and organic products from their new range. I will be choosing the winners on the 21st of July so you still have all week to get into your kitchen and get creative.July 17, 2017
- When Nespresso asked me if I would like to create a recipe using their new limited edition ice coffee capsules and aeroccino I of course jumped at the opportunity. Anything to do with coffee is always a yes from me.I wanted to create my version of the “ultimate ice coffee” so whilst thinking of what exactly that meant to me my thoughts drifted to all the delicious ice coffees I had as a teenager. They were filled with chocolate sauce and nothing but sugary goodness I mean badness, bad bad haha. Clearly I’m going to make a healthy guilt free version here. I also wanted to put a more sophisticated twist to my childhood ice coffee fantasy so immediately I thought of chai, my favourite flavour. So here it is for your pleasure always.Vegan iced dirty chai(Incase you didn’t know “dirty chai” is pretty much coffee and tea together)RECIPE3 medjool dates1 tablespoon of cacao2 tablespoons of maple2 Nespresso Leggero on Ice capsules2 chai tea, tea bags1 cup of almond milk( Here is the link to my almond milk recipe, or you can use store bought but homemade is always the best)http://catwalkstocradles.com/vanilla-almond-mylk-recipe/You will also need– an ice tray– blender– Nespresso Coffee machine– Aeroccino Milk Frothing Machine– a nice big glassSTEPSThe night before ….1. Make a large cup of hot water and place your 2 teabags in and steep for 5-10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and throw away. Add the maple to your tea, stir and pop in the fridge to cool down. Once cool place in your ice tray overnight to make your “chai tea ice cubes”Depending on your taste buds you can add more or less maple. I find this to be the perfect amount though. Naughty but nice.CHOC/CARAMEL SAUCE1. Pre soak 3 medjool dates in a small cup of water. Use only enough water to cover the dates. Place in fridge for 2 hours ….. 2 hours later.2. Place your soaked dates with the water they have been soaking in into your blender. Add the cacao and blend until smooth. This is your delish choc/caramel sauce to drizzle in your glass.1. Take a nice big glass and drizzle your choc caramel sauce into the glass. Try and get as much as you can around the sides although it doesn’t really stay there as much as real chocolate sauce does.2. Take 2 Leggero on Ice pods and make 2 espresso shots of coffee, place to the side3. Fill your Aeroccino Milk Frothing Machine with your almond milk and press the COLD button to create a cold frothed milk perfect for iced coffees4. Take your pre made chai ice cubes and fill your sauce covered glass with the cubes all the way to the top5. Add your frothed almond milk on top of the ice, leaving just enough room to add your 2 shots of coffee6. Add your 2 shots of coffee on top of your milk and ice and your all done.This is such an awesome treat you can make for your friends on a summer afternoon. You could also add a shot of vodka if you wanted to make a cheeky choc chai cocktail.The great thing about this is the limited edition pods only cost $6.7hk each so your summer treat doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg!June 5, 2017
This is a perfect back to school recipe that the whole family can enjoy. Mornings can be quite daunting for any family. Getting everyone feed and dressed and trying to make it to where you have to be in time. Not to mention the mess you have to clean post breakfast. This recipe is easy, filling, relatively tidy and most off all nutritious .
I love to use freeze dried superfood powders in my morning smoothies as it reassures me that I have started my day with a powerful blend of fruits, vegetables and superfoods that will insure I have energy throughout the day. In addition to feeling less guilty about eating a huge lunch of Korean fried chicken ha ha. Also, for the kids you canfeel at ease that they have received vital nutrients to fuel their little bodies and brains. No junk just pure raw goodness to propel them into their day.
BACK TO SCHOOL SUPER SMOOTHIE
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds
A small bunch of organic spinach
1 teaspoon of honey
1 tablespoon of almond butter
1 serving a chocolate superfood powder
1 tablespoon of gluten free oats
1 – 1 1/2 cups of chocolate hazelnut milk
Place all ingredients into a powerful blender and blend until well combined.
Enjoy,September 20, 2016
1 Cup of fresh coconut flesh
1 tablespoon of organic coconut cream powder
1 teaspoon organic vanilla bean powder
1 table spoon of coconut flower sugar
1/2 teaspoon of organic cinnamon
20 drops of banana medicine flower
2/3 cup of organic almond flour
1/2 cup of organic almonds
5 organic medjool dates
1 tablespoon of organic cacao butter
2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon of cacao nibs
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 .Place all ” Filling ” ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are completely combined. Should take around 3 mins max. Place mixture to the side. Wash your food processor so you can prepare your base.
2. Place all ” Base ” ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are well combined. Should take around 1 mins max. you want this mixture to still be chunky for texture.
3. Lightly oil a pie/tart tray with coconut oil. I like to use a tray that has a removable centre. Much easier when you want to remove your tart or pie.
4. Take your base mixture and firmly press it into your pie/tart tray. Make sure you press it firmly into the tray so it doesn’t crumble later when you try to remove it.
5. Take your filling mixture and spoon into your your base and smooth out evenly.
Your pie is almost done now …
6. Place your pie in the fridge for 30 mins to set.
7. Remove pie from the fridge and garnish with your ” Topping ” ingredients.
Now your Raw banana cream pie is ready to impress!
Delicious served with nice-cream or ice cream and a cup of tea of course.
Happy Autumn,November 18, 2015
1 Cup of dehydrated coconut
3 table spoons of raw organic cacao butter
3 table spoons of organic coconut milk powder
1 heaped teaspoon of organic matcha powder
3 tablespoons of raw coconut nectar
RAW CHOCOLATE COATING
1 cup of raw organic cacao paste
1 tablespoon of raw organic coconut oil
1/2 a cup of dehydrated cane juice
MATCHA TOP LAYER
1 table spoon of raw coconut milk powder
1/4 teaspoon of matcha powder
1 .Place all “Filling” ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are completely combined. Should take around 3 mins max
2. Take 1 heaped tablespoon of filling mixture and roll into a tight ball in the palm of your hand.
3. Once you have made all your mixture into balls place them in the freezer.
Now it’s time to make the raw chocolate coating.
4. Take a pot and fill with water around 1/2 way from the bottom. Take a thick glass bowl that fits snug on the top of your pot. You don’t want your glass bowl to touch the water or the bottom of your pot. This method of melting chocolate is called double boil. Check out this informative clip if your confused. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2UGOZMd9qM
Place your cocao paste and coconut oil into your glass bowl and once melted add the dehydrated cane juice and stir. Your chocolate coating is ready when all ingredients are completely combined and in a warm liquid state. NOTE: The dehydrated cane juice will never dissolve completely. This is why I love it! Adds a nice crunchy texture.
5. Take your balls from the freezer and roll them around in your chocolate, once completely covered place back into the freezer for 2 mins and repeat 3-4 times for a nice thick coat.
When you are satisfied with your chocolate coating keep them out on the bench.
6. Place your matcha top layer ingredients on a plate and mix together. This will create a lovely light green dust for you to roll your truffles in and then you all done!
I guarantee you they won’t be around for more then a couple of days. I ate all mine in 3 days. However if you do decide to store them for longer they can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or the freezer for 1 month. ………YUM
Domo arigato.November 12, 2015
-6 organic free range eggs
-1/2 cup of milk
-1 large handful of fresh organic spinach finely chopped
-8-10 finely chopped cherry tomatoes
-1/4 teaspoon turmeric
-1/2 teaspoon of organic dried basil
-1/4 f a cup of grated parmesan cheese
Large muffin baking tray with 6 cups
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Beat eggs with a fork.
3. Add milk to your beaten egg mixture and beat again until light and fluffy.
4. Add turmeric and basil and beat again, just enough to mix into the egg mixture.
5. Add spinach, tomatoes and parmesan cheese ( leave some 2 tablespoons of cheese to the side ) . Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
6. Very lightly oil muffin tray
7. Cut baking paper into squares to fit into your muffin tray cups, and place into the tray. Molding the paper to the shape of the tray.
8. Place mixture into the tray evenly distributing mixture between the cups.
9. Place in oven for 12-14mins.
Your quiches are ready when you can press firmly on them and they spring back.
These are perfect for breakfast on the go. Or even for lunch or dinner accompanied with a side salad and some sweet chilli sauce.
Enjoy,October 21, 2015
As you all know I’m a huge fan of all things natural. So naturally (no pun intended) I have fallen in love with this new hong Kong based start up, the Naturally Better Box.
The idea is that you sign up to a month subscription and each month you receive a beautiful box filled with cruelty free, toxic free, and environmentally friendly products are sent directly to your doorstep.
The girls at the NBB search the globe for the best products available and only share with us the ones the believe in, trust and love. The beauty of this is that all the goodies have been tried and tested by two women who are passionate about all things natural.
Unlike other subscriptions you receive full sized products. In my opinion this is much better than samples as you get the full experience and can better judge if you really love the products. If you do fall for certain lip balm, cleaning product or yummy tea, just jump online to their e-shop and purchase more. It’s that easy…. Then all you need to do is sit back and wait until the next month to be introduced to more delectable NBB goodies.
Each box is filled with six full sized items. These are my top six picks.
The Pure Candle and Coal & Canary Candle
Candles are a must in our house hold. They are perfect for a romantic evening or simply to make the house smell amazing. They also look super cool. These candles smell divine and burn clear of soot, chemicals and smoke so you can breath easy, sit back, and enjoy the ambience.
Matcha Maiden-100% pure organic green tea powder and Pranayum-masala chai tea
As you can see I clearly have a love for candles and tea. Chai always reminds me of home (Australia). Relaxing and sipping a chai latte is one of my favorite things to do right off the plane. It’s so yummy and Hong Kong has yet to master the art of making Chai like Australia. This is why I love to have it on hand at home so I can make it myself. Green tea is for sure one of my favorite flavors. So much that I created a super yummy smoothie for you guys to try using Matcha Maiden tea.
Perfect to have in your bag for many reasons. For me I hate to wear make-up but unfortunately it is unavoidable in my line of work. These wipes are the perfect natural solution for me to clean my face of make-up right after a shoot or on the go. They are great to clean the kids faces and sticky fingers after a messy brunch date. And you can rest assured your not rubbing nasty chemicals on their delicate little faces. They are also biodegradable.
Cleaning products are so scary to me. Specially since having first a dog, then children. I’ll be honest allot of meals are eaten off the floor these days so cleaning products thats have no nasty chemicals, but work are so important.
The NBB has so many other fantastic products in their online store. If your at all thinking of how to add more natural and organic products to your home and life they are worth checking out.
Lets make our lives more green,
Coconut Matcha Smoothie
-1 cup of organic almond milk
-1 teaspoon of Matcha Maiden-100% organic green tea powder
-1 frozen banana
-1 tablespoon of raw honey
-2 1/2 tablespoons dehydrated coconut (1/2 tablespoon set aside for topping)
-5 cubes of ices
-1/2 tablespoon of chia seeds for topping
Blend banana, almond milk, honey, coconut, ice, matcha and pour into a glass jar. Top with chia seeds, coconut and drizzle with honey.
Perfect afternoon pick me up that is delicious and packed full of antioxidants!September 25, 2015