finding savasana in swellendam & raw cashew butter brownie recipe
With only a measly collection of loose coins in our pockets, we managed to wrangle one, lone scoop of peanuts and raisins and a single pass into the public bathrooms. It had been a long drive, trudging through rush hour traffic before finally arriving - at the petrol station. With all snacks depleted, we emerged from the car, weary eyed and mushy tailed, and hungry. But without a card machine or ATM, we were forced to accept a small packet of questionably sourced peanuts and raisins as our last resort. It was getting dark and we still had over an hour of driving to go.
All the signs were pointing to a much needed life reboot. Luckily, we were heading to a retreat out in Swellendam, hosted at an aptly named guest house called The Hideaway. It was time to get away, slow down, and hit the reset button.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a garden of over 450 plants and rose bushes, hidden beneath the looming Langeberg mountain range. Run by the beautiful couple, Stephen and Jackie Young, and surrounded by magnificent fauna and flora, The Hideaway is a little place of paradise that allows people to come home to themselves.
Swellendam unfurls itself in unexpected ways if you just give it time. Slowing down was how I found electric purple flowers that felt exactly like velvet, growing happily next to something that smelled like sage and something like pineapple. It was how I found a one-legged camouflaged-coloured locust taking a breather by the fresh water pool. It was how I found baby apples quietly growing in the corner. It was how I heard frogs croak like singing birds. It was how I found the beauty in, and appreciation for returning to simple stretches and movements. It was how I was reminded that an open mind and heart connects people in magical and unexpected ways.
The retreat was organised by Marlien Wright, author of the cookbook, "The Yoga Kitchen - 100 Easy Superfood Recipes". As a Yoga & Pilates teacher and Nutritional Therapy Coach, she organises retreats and reboot programs throughout the year, and I was lucky enough to attend one of her retreat weekends.
Marlien has a wonderful, nurturing energy, and is able to gently hold space regardless if you're clueless about nutrition, have never done downward-facing dog, or are able to hold an arm balance with one hand while flipping a chickpea pancake with the other.
From start to finish, we were nourished from head to toe. We were fed alkalising green smoothies, superfood granola, warm muffins, homemade jams, comforting curries, fresh salads, eggplant pizzas and addictive raw cashew butter chocolate brownies - the highlight of the weekend (keep scrolling for the recipe below!).
Topics on balanced nutrition and healthy eating habits were discussed throughout the weekend. The overarching theme was count colours, not calories. Marlien's approach is balanced and approachable for anyone who is trying to regain and take back control of their health. Is gluten harmful? Is coffee bad? What are good sources of plant based protein? Why do we need to eat fermented foods? Is intermittent fasting ok? Are carbs the devil? All of these questions, and more, were pulled apart, mashed up and reshaped into coherent and clear answers.
We were guided through four Yin Yoga Flow classes over the course of the weekend. Marlien's style of yoga combines restorative poses and breath work in a peaceful and graceful sequence that is accessible for anyone. I left each class feeling supple, relaxed and clear-headed.
Food, yoga, and nutrition talks aside, in short space of a single weekend, I managed to slumber away 10 hours of sleep each night, wallow in the jacuzzi, detox in the sauna and bask under the sun by the fresh water pool, all in good company with my fellow retreaters.
With the weekend slowly rolling to an end, I wished that I could have stayed longer. Yet I left The Hideaway feeling grounded and with a deeper appreciation for nature, mindful movement and balanced and nourishing food. It was a weekend of simplicity, slowing down and disconnecting to reconnect.
raw cashew butter brownie recipe
And now for the moment we have all been waiting for. These brownies were the highlight of the weekend! They have the perfect texture, sweetness and chocolate-ness. As always, the recipe is super easy - all you need is a blender and freezer!
3/4 cup of cashew nut butter*
1 cup medjool dates
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple suryp
100g good quality, 85% dark chocolate
Pinch of salt
A handful of walnuts or pecans**
Goji berries and nut butter (optional toppings)
*Feel free to use peanut, macadamia or almond butter
**Optional: Soak the nuts overnight, dry and then lightly roast them in the oven (7 minutes at 150°C) before garnishing them on the brownies.
1. Melt the dark chocolate over low heat in a heat-proof bowl.
2. Pour the melted chocolate, along with dates, nut butter, coconut oil and salt into the food processor and blend until you have a smooth mixture.
3. Transfer the mixture to a spring-form cake tin, garnish the top with crushed walnuts or pecans, goji berries and nut butter. Pop into the freezer for an hour. Next, transfer the tin to the fridge until fully set.
4. Devour. That's an order.