Vegan Yoga Retreat Recipes

I went on a yoga retreat for St. Patrick’s Day weekend to The Aran Islands. My yoga teacher invited me (The fabulous Christine McNally find out more here: ) and asked me to cook vegan food for the weekend for a party of 11 yogis. I wanted to write this blog so that I could share the recipes of some of the meals I prepared with my wonderful assistant Dawn McCarthy. I have a huge passion for food and I was up for the challenge. I was very excited about the opportunity that had been given to me but I was also a bit skeptical that I couldn’t make delicious food under the constraints of the rules of veganism. I myself am not a vegan, not even a vegetarian and I always thought in my head that being vegan was taking things a step too far. How could I live without meat, cheese and milk? Surely I couldn’t! I think sometimes the thing that puts me off the most about the lifestyle is there can be so much talk about it around the dinner table. It is like religion, believe whatever you want just don’t ram it down my throat, thank you.

So I had to start planning meals, I set about doing some research on the diet, and found many so called ‘one pot wonders’ that I could cook in enough time to give great flavour in one big pot but also have enough time to get yoga practice in with the rest of the group. We practiced Ashtanga in the mornings and a more gentle restorative yoga class was held in the evening time.

Breakfast each morning consisted of delicious creamy porridge and sour dough toast. The oats had been soaked overnight in water.  It felt like the porridge was made with milk, they were so creamy because they had been soaked for so long. I made enough for 12 people. A general rule of 1 part oats and two parts liquid works well. So, it was simply 6 cups of porridge to 12 cups of water.  There is a lot of fun to be had with porridge as there are so many add-in bits and bobs:

  • Bee Pollen (Bee Pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids. It has powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that strengthen the capillaries, reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system and lower cholesterol levels naturally.)
  • Chia Seeds (Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron, and calcium)
  • Cacao Nibs (Cacao beans, especially when eaten raw, are some of the most rich high-antioxidant foods around thanks to the phytonutrients available in cacao nibs, helping absorb the free radicals that cause damage in the body.|)
  • Nut Butter (Nuts and nut butters are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals)
  • Banana (Tasty!)
  • Goji Berries (Goji berries contain vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin A, iron, selenium and other antioxidants (notably polysaccharides).)
  • Berry Compote (Recipe below!)


Berry compote is so easy to make and this recipe made a full mason jar that served 10 people for two mornings of breakfast. I accidentally bought strawberries, I wanted raspberries!!! DOPE!

What you’ll need:

  • Frozen Strawberries 750g
  • 1 Tbsp of Raw Cane Sugar.
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Juice of and orange and the zest


Soften the berries over a medium heat in a large pot and add in the sugar. When it starts to reduce down add in the juices from the lemon and orange, cook for a further 20 minutes on low heat stirring occasionally. Pop it in a mason jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week. I am going to add chia seeds to the recipe and make chia jam (hopefully it is a success!). I reheated the compote in the mornings at breakfast while the porridge was cooking. It adds sweetness and colour to your oats or dollop onto top of your peanut butter on toast!

Speaking of toast, dairy-free spread is readily available in most supermarkets, Tesco have started to do a large range of vegan food and their dairy free spread comes in at €1.90! It doesn’t have much taste to be perfectly honest. Our teacher was very forward about letting people know that they could bring food with them that they thought they couldn’t live without. The main dairy product that graced the table in the morning was a packet of Kerrygold butter.

Inish more

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Serves 4

I love curry! Most meals we were eating were served with bread on the side so for a change I made a curry with rice. I have to say I am a big fan of McDonnell’s curry (I never put two and two together to get to realise that the guy form the ads is from Foil, Arm and Hog!) , such a cop out I know! This was one of the nicest curries I have ever eaten. There was a feeling of meatiness from the chickpeas and sweet potato and the creaminess of the coconut made it all very well balanced. This recipe is going to become a staple in my diet.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • I medium Onion
  • 1 Tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (Crushed)
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 2 Tsp Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tsp Tumeric
  • Handful of Fresh Corriander
  • I can of Coconut Milk
  • I can of Chopped Tomatoes
  • I can of Chickpeas
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • Bag of Spinach
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Basmati Rice (Enough for 4)


In a large pot melt the coconut oil and add in the cumin seeds, fry until fragrant being careful that they don’t burn. Add in the chopped onion and garlic and sprinkle in the salt. Once the onions are soft and translucent add in the tomato puree and cook until caramelised. Add in the ginger, turmeric and fresh coriander, cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring the mixture. Add in the coconut milk, tomatoes and chickpeas. Add black pepper to taste. Bring the curry to the boil and then reduce the heat and cook on low for an hour. The longer you cook it the better it will taste, I let mine cook for 2-3 hours.  Cook the rice 15 minutes before serving and add the spinach to the curry and stir in. Serve up in large bowls and add lime wedges and fresh coriander if desired. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Stew

Serves 4

I was not excited at the thought of having lentils. I just didn’t like the idea of them. I had to go outside of my own comfort zone and what I like personally and experiment a bit more with new foods. This red lentil stew surprised me. See the recipe below:

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 White Onion (Diced)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic (Crushed)
  • 1 tsp Himaylian Rock salt
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tsp Hot Paprika
  • 25 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 Cups of Vegetable Stock (Bouillion Stock is vegan)
  • 5 Cups Red Lentils
  • 3 Large Carrots (Sliced)
  • Black Pepper


In a large pot fry the onion, garlic and salt until the onion is translucent and soft. Add in the tomato paste until it caramelised. Add in the paprika and cayenne pepper followed by the vegetable stock, red lentils and pepper to taste. I let mine boil and then cook on low for an hour. This can be served on its own, with sour dough bread or with extra vegetables. It is so simply and really nourishing!

I found the second time that I made it; it was a little too hot for me (I got a little heavy handed on the cayenne so I combated it with a large dollop of natural yogurt).

Sweet Treats

So as an extra I did spend some time making some sweets for the group. In my head I was thinking that at least if the cooking sucked I could make up for it by bribing the group with chocolate.

Bounty Bars (Inspired by the Happy Pear)

Makes about 12 bars

What you’ll need:

  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 200 g Dark Chocolate (70%)
  • 200 g Desiccated Coconut
  • 4 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 100g Ground Almonds
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract


In a pot melt the coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup. In a separate mixing bowl add the coconut, almond flour and salt. Once the oil is melted add it to the dry ingredients and mix well. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and press the mixture in tightly and freeze for 20-30 minutes. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pot of hot water. Once the mixture comes out of the freezer it should be hard enough to cut into bar and dip into the melted chocolate. Place bars back on the parchment and pace in the fridge until the chocolate solidifies. These are incredibly tasty and last in the fridge for up to a week.

Orange Chocolate Balls (Makes about 15-18)


What you’ll need:

  • 2 cup of dates
  • 5 medium oranges and the zest (juiced)
  • 3 Tbsp. Cacao Powder
  • 1/4 cup of ground almonds
  • ½ the zest of an orange
  • Keep some peel for decoration
  • 40g dark chocolate (for decoration)


After the dates have been soaked for 15 minutes in tepid water, add them to the blender with the ground almonds. Depending on the strength of your blender it should take around 2-3 minutes, till you get a smooth paste.  Add in the orange juice, zest and cacao powder and blend till smooth and fully incorporated. Over a pot of hot water on the stove, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl. Make the balls (around 10-15) by hand. Dip each ball in dark chocolate and decorate with the left over peel by grating it on top of the melted chocolate. Keep them in the fridge and eat as desired. If the balls are too wet add more almond flour or cacao powder. For more energy ball recipes go to: Energy Balls, healthy snacks 🙂

Black Bean and Avocado Brownies (Makes 12)


What you’ll need:

  • 1 can of drained black beans
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 3/4 cups of raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup of pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 120g melted dark chocolate
  • Handful Of Crushed Hazelnuts for decoration


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a cupcakes tray with bun cases. Throw everything (apart from the melted chocolate) into the blender, mix well for a few minutes. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a lot of water and add that in. Add a spoonful of the mixture to each of the  cupcake cases and top with chopped hazelnuts and bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how gooey you want them. Devour!

So in light of everything, I will not be going vegan but I have certainly had my eyes opened to the fact that it doesn’t have to be boring and you don’t just have to eat lettuce. I will certainly be eating more meat free dishes. I hope you enjoy this blog and cooking the food as much as I did. Thank you to everyone who I shared this weekend with for all your kind words, honesty and help in the kitchen. What a wonderful group of people. We will be doing it all over again in Portugal in October!




Those women were in the nip!!!!!!


Banana and Berry Blast Smoothie

I find this delicious breakfast smoothie is perfect when I wake up in the afternoon/evening (hopefully the evening, it means I have had a good long sleep!!!) before a night shift, it gets me off on the right foot. It is so tasty and smooth like ice-cream, it makes me very happy!! It is vegan friendly too 🙂 Packed full of energy providing ingredients, you can’t go wrong having this to kick start your day or night 😉


What you’ll need (Makes 1):

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Berries of choice
  • 1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Essence
  • 1/2 Cup of Oats
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A good dash of Milk (almond works well here)

Throw everything into a blender.If you don’t have frozen berries or bananas you can just throw some ice into the mix.

Serve in a tall glass with added fresh berries and desiccated coconut on top…. makes it look as pretty as it tastes 🙂





Chocolate coconut flapjacks….

These are so easy to make and full of wholesome healthy ingredients. They are perfect lunchbox snacks or after a workout…they are loaded with energy 😊 

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 1/4 cup of traditional oats
  • 1 Tbsp. dried sliced coconut
  • 3 Tbsp. Dessicated coconut
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Of honey or maple syrup (I use half of each)

For the topping:

  • 100g of dark chocolate (i use 74% cocoa)
  • 1 Tbsp. Of coconut oil
  • Dessicated coconut for decoration 

Pre heat the oven to 180° Celsius. Prepare a on 8″ x 8″ silicone square mould for the flapjacks. 

In a large bowl mix the oats, salt and coconut. 

In a pan melt the honey/maple syrup, peanut butter and coconut oil. Add the mixture to the large bowl with the oats and mix well. 

Press the mixture into the mould and bake for 10 minutes until browned. Once the flapjacks are fully cooled (to room temperature), prepare the chocolate by melting it with coconut oil in the microwave or in a bain-marie. 

Pour the Chocolate on top of the flapjacks and sprinkle them with dessicated coconut. Once fully cooled cut into 8-16 sqaures. 

I store mine in the fridge as the chocolate melts easier once coconut oil is added to it. 

What are you waiting for? Get baking!!! 😍




The real ‘Stairway to Heaven….’,Cuilcagh Legnabroky, Fermanagh

Why go all the way to Fermanagh for a walk? That is like a 3.5 hour drive?? There are many reasons why… aside from getting to go to Asda and buying Rhubarb and Custard tea and cheap ibuprofen, Cuilcagh Legnabroky is the hottest place to hike in Ireland right now, Ireland’s very own stairway to heaven.


We (My Friend Linda and I) set off from Castletroy in Limerick at half 7 in the morning with Otis Spunkmeyer cappuccinos and mini banana bread muffins (I made them, there is a blog with a recipe…I gotta plug myself!). We stayed on the road till we made it to Athlone. We had a long conversation trying to figure out whether Athlone is a county and if not what county was in in?? I think we figured out that it was in Westmeath. We went for brunch in Bastion Kitchen. This quaint little cafe on Bastion street is perfect for coffee and food. We got a delicious breakfast with falafel, hummus, pitta bread, salad and runny poached eggs… it was so delicious and filling (see photos below)The coffee is so good too 🙂 Very friendly staff and good value for money. They sell a range of healthy food stuffs like peanut butter, coconut chocolate bars and hemp protein too.

When we got to Enniskillen we checked into our hotel and then we headed out for a quick snack and a coffee. We went to Frou Frou Tea Shop. It looked great from the outside, with a cream vintage theme, there was a great selection of cakes and buns. We got a slice of Victoria Sponge cake, carrot cake and 2 cappuccinos. It was ok, it was way to quite in there…almost uncomfortable. I am all for peace and calm but it felt like you couldn’t really talk, it needs a little background music. The cake was good though, we went to pay and it was a little steep it was nearly £15 for cake and coffee for two people. There was nutmeg on top of the coffee, an acquired taste, I wouldn’t do that without asking. Wouldn’t be going back there!!!!

In order to make ourselves feel a little less guilty about indulging in cake we set out to find Topped Mountain. I had read about it on Trip Advisor.  Topped mountain is just outside Enniskillen and is about 277 meters high, you will be up and down it in 20 minutes 🙂 The views from the top are really worth the journey. Not the easiest to locate on google maps, the trick is to get to Tempo road and then it is really well sign posted with large brown signs.

After our walk we decide it was time to indulge again and we went down to a pub called ‘Blake of the Hollows’ notorious for the oldest public house in Enniskillen. They have an extensive gin menu so we had to have one. We went for Drumshanbo Irish Gunpowder Gin, delicious! We actually ended up writing a list of the places we want to walk in the coming year and there was a mention of Kilimanjaro… that is for another day though!!!

We were in bed early…(like 9pm, I just wanted it to be go time!!!) We were up super early (6am) for proats, banana bread muffins and strong coffee.

Recipes for the perfect hikers breakfast available here: Proats: https//, Banana Bread Muffins

Cuilcagh Legnabroky is really well signposted from Enniskillen, you generally follow sign for the Marble Arch Geo Park. Parking is free when you get there (The trail car park is about 1 km from the main car park for the Marble Arch Caves), we were the first ones to arrive so we chose to park really close to the exit. By the time we were leaving the car park was full and had spilled out onto the road so getting there early is very advisable.


Cuilcagh Legnabroky, The Real Stairway to Heaven

On starting the walk you exit the car park, you are not alone for the first part of the walk, you are surrounded by sheep and lambs, so cute! The trail is very easy to follow it begins on a long windy stoney path which eventually transforms to wooden walkway. The route brings you around one of the largest blanket bogs in Europe and hence the building if the wooden walkway, to protect it from people. The landscape is quite bleak, but beautiful none the less. It was a bright morning but the wind was against us and made walking that bit more difficult. You can see the staircase built into the mountain when you are about a quarter of the way there. They have set aside lovely benches to take a break and even a little shed with benches were you can get shelter, we stopped and took photos, had FigRolls. It was really lovely. As I said, we got there early so we were able to take our time and enjoy the unscathed view. Later on, on decent it was starting to get crowded and loud.

On our way home we stopped in Grogan’s for soup and coffee in Glasson, probably the best soup I have had in years, great service and atmosphere. Very good value for money too, highly recommended. For the final final stop, we got ’99’s in Killbeggan 🙂 🙂 I had a ’99 everyday… I am not sorry!


I am not sure if I go places so much for the hiking or the eating but either way I am very happy doing both. It is worth the trip to Fermanagh, I just don’t think I would stay over in Enniskillen again, it didn’t get me very excited.

Check it out.




Black bean brownies… gooey chocolatey goodness ♥ 

A new take on brownies… these are so easy to make and so chocolatey 😍 throw everything in a blender and off you go. I have such a sweet tooth so I have to try new ways to get my chocolate sugar fix that is a bit healthier. 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 can of drained black beans 
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 3/4 cups of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/4 cup of honey 
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil 
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 120g melted dark chocolate
  • Hazelnuts for decoration

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celius. Line a cupcakes tray with bun cases. Throw everything into the blender, mix well for a few minutes. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a lot of water and add that in. Add a spoonful of the mixture to each of the 12 cupcake cases and top with chopped hazelnuts. 

I cooked mine for about 22 minutes, this ensures they are nice and gooey! Try not to eat them all in one go. Great as a healthy snack for the lunchbox. 




Keeper hill… never too late in the day for a walk…

I would honestly never think to go and climb a mountain late in the evening. Then when it was suggested, I thought why not??? I had been cooped up in work all weekend sitting on my ass and I wanted to get out and stretch my legs…it was ok for me to go here, I have been here before, I knew the route and I had everything I needed with me from a whistle to a torch to my trusted fig rolls 😂

Keeper hill is located just outside Newport, Co. Tipperary and stands 694m high. You will make it up and down in about 3-4 hours. It is a gentle gradient to the base of the mountain through forest on a stoney path. It has a few false peaks 🙈 but eventually you will see the aerial on the top and the trig point. The scenery is breathtaking, you get beautiful views all around. 

So next time you think about going out hiking or walking never think that it is too late in the day, grab your torch and go… You might even catch the sunset. 




W.B. Yeats – I have spread my dreams under your feet

W.B. Yeats – I have spread my dreams under your feet

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven”


I wanted to share this because I like it so much 🙂

Operation: Take a Compliment

I had a friend who knew a Spanish girl who said ‘Penney’s’, when someone gave her a drink on a night out because she thought it was how we, the Irish, say ‘Thank You’.

‘I love your dress’…. ‘Thanks, Penney’s!!!’

No, Stop right there! Irish men and women need to learn how to take a compliment. Why is that we need to make excuses when we look good, have lost weight or have achieved something?? We need to learn to be proud of ourselves and just say ‘Thank you’. I am trying to change the tide in the way I myself take a compliment. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to self criticism and compliments. Sometimes you need to take 5, look at yourself and think of all the things that you have achieved.


It doesn’t even need to be anything major, it can be that you bought a house all by yourself, learned to cook a new dish, baked a cake, taught someone something new or you ran a half a kilometer more than you did yesterday. Say ‘Well done me! ‘They say, ‘Self praise, is no praise’, I disagree, be proud of yourself, reflect and tell yourself in a mantra that you are doing OK (without rocking yourself from side to side and looking a bit mad).

Give honest compliments, sometimes telling one person something really simple and honest can make their day, it costs nothing to be pleasant. Life is hard enough as it is, it is nice to be nice.

Bite your tongue and say ‘Cheers!’, the next time someone says something agreeable to you.

Just a thought, rant over.


Thank you for reading this 😉




Carrantouhil…Ireland’s Highest Mountain (1038.6m)

This has become my favourite mountain to climb. Located just outside Kilarney in Co. Kerry, Carrauntohil stands 1038.6 metres tall and holds the accolade for being Ireland’s tallest mountain in the centre of Macgillycuddy Peaks mountain range.

Devils ladder

When you get there: You arrive in Cronin’s yard where parking for the day is a very reasonable €2. They also have little huts to stay in and areas to camp that are surrounded by fields dotted with big fluffy sheep, truly picturesque. When we arrived (Easter Sunday) Spring had sprung and there were baby lambs frolicking in the fields, we had our Easter eggs in our back packs and we were being overly optimistic by packing sunglasses.

Mountain Kerry

We set off on our walk (after a search for Ciaran’s tights!!!) which was to take between 6-6.5 hours. The weather was perfect for walking, it was about 10-12 degrees, dry and clear on the ground, it was a really fresh day. We had decided that we were going to take the Devil’s ladder route up the mountain, we made our way there via the Hag’s Glen and passing The Hag’s Tooth (questioning where the rest of this Hag was 😉 ) . We would decide what route to take on the descent by way of a vote later on. The devil’s ladder is the most straight forward way up but over the years the rocks have become very loose so you need to be careful of what is going on in front of you and behind you as rocks are easily dislodged. You can’t miss the devil’s ladder, it stands tall and ominous in front of you and looking back you have a view of the beautiful lakes behind you. We took a little time here to look at out OS maps and take a little lesson in map reading, the main thing that I remember is ‘Put red to bed!!!’ It was fun, very rewarding when I figured it out and definitely something that I need to start doing a lot more of.


When we got to the top of devil’s ladder we took a little break and had some fig rolls before we went to tackle the last section of the climb. What I love the most about hiking is how friendly everyone is when you are walking. Everyone will say hello, ask you how you are and there is so much good banter. We met a lovely family from Kerry who we met at various stages along the way. They were sitting down having their lunch , they were admiring the views half way up Devil’s ladder and said ‘Lovely views, pity about those fecking mountains!!!’, brilliant 🙂 Every person is the same on the mountain. I have said it before and I will say it again, enjoy the walk, look around you and take everything in. Don’t just try to run to the top and keep your eyes on the ground the whole time.


We were near the peak and started to see the Cross atop the mountain and the sense of achievement was visible in us all. I got a few breathing techniques from Ciaran to get me to the top, take a long deep breathe in through your nose and hold it for a few seconds before you take a large exhale, repeat three or four times, this really works to expel all the carbon dioxide from your body and regulate breathing again and rocket you to the top. The main thing for us was getting to the top and cracking those Easter eggs of our heads:) The visibility from the top wasn’t great for us but of course as we descended the clouds lifted and it was clear as day, we thought about heading back up again to see the views!!!! Linda and I have no luck when it comes to visibility on the top of all the  mountains that we have climbed together. After a quick recharge we decided it was time to go back down.


There are a few ways to get back down and we decided (by vote, 2-1, sorry Linda!) that we would take the Devil’s Ladder way back down again. There is another option the zig-zag route but looking at it it looked like quite a climb again to the top, and a pretty steep climb down. The next time I go climbing I will go the zig-zag way 🙂 I think there is another option too, Heaven’s gates, but I am not too sure about that. The devil’s ladder is the quickest way down. The to

Top of the rock, with our Easter Eggs 🙂

For afterwards they have a tea room/cafe at Cronin’s Yard where you can get home baked treats (tea cakes, scones, apple tarts), Sandwiches, Toasties and soup with brown bread, tea and coffee. Kick back, sign the visitors book, read the books scattered around the tea room and talk to fellow hikers about your experiences, enjoy every moment. I always like to get a ’99 after a hike, it is totally guilt free 🙂


For more information on packing for a walk/hike check this out :

Thank you Linda for taking the photos and to Ciaran for providing the singing 🙂


Get out there 🙂