The Sweet Meadow

Wild Orange Cacao Crunch

recipes, food, essential oilsAishe Besim

Orange and chocolate are a classic match (hello, Jaffas!), and this granola recipe delivers on both counts. 

Full of wholesome ingredients like almonds, buckwheat and dates, the addition of wild orange essential oil is two-fold. Wild orange is known to aid in digestion, while aromatically, it is calming and uplifting to the mind and body. It is known as the 'Oil of Abundance', assisting individuals to foster creativity and inspire an abundant mindset. 

If stored in an airtight container, this mix can last up to a month. 



1 cup Loving Earth caramelised buckinis
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
6 medjool dates
2 tablespoons rice malt syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Pinch of pink salt
3-4 drops of doTERRA wild orange essential oil (learn how to purchase these oils here)

1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celcius. Line a baking sheet with paper and set aside.
2. Blitz the almonds and buckinis in a food processor until crumbly. 
3. Meanwhile, use a small handheld processor to mix together the dates, rice malt syrup, and coconut oil until smooth. Add a few drops of essential oil into this 'wet' mix to flavour the granola. 
4. Combine the dry mix with the wet mix in a large bowl (hands work best for this to make sure the sweetener is combined well with the dry mix). 
5. Pour mixture onto the baking tray and drizzle with a little coconut oil & rice malt syrup.
6. Bake for around 45 minutes - check midway through and give the granola mix a turn.
7. Once cooked through and crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool before eating.
8. Use as topping on a smoothie bowl (brownie points if you post it on Instagram), oats, or chia pudding, or eat alone as a snack with some fruit. 


Winter Escape - Where to eat on the East Coast

travelAishe Besim

My path is to create, and in order for me to do that properly, I have to have solitude and peace of mind. And that comes from turning everything off, being alone, staying away from social media and being with nature.
— David LaChapelle, photographer

David LaChapelle was on to something. After a crazy busy and intense 18 months renovating/opening/running The Sweet Meadow I finally allowed myself (because let's be honest, no one else was stopping me) a few days off for a mini winter break. And it was glorious!

I headed north to Brisbane to catch up with family and check out the cafe scene in the Sunshine State (surely I'm not the only one that plans their holidays around food?). We definitely found a few gems.

Nodo is an eatery I had been following for a long time - it made its mark baking gluten free donuts and have now expanded to offer a full cafe menu. While their famous baked donuts aren't vegan, they have lots of options for plant-based eaters, including raw donuts. 

While we didn't eat here, I also liked the vibe at Miss Jones cafe in New Farm (the pastels and timber tables had me hooked). Charlie's Raw Squeeze is also pretty awesome (two vegan brothers turned their dad's fruit shop into a vegan empire - think juices, smoothie bowls, desserts and even a moo-free burger offering with multiple locations across Brisbane).

Next,  we drove down to Byron Bay for a day trip. This little beach town has to be one of my favourite places on earth. Lots of new eateries have opened since I last visited. Combi had beautiful decor and a huge smoothie menu. These guys also have a cafe in Elwood, Victoria, although the Byron store is triple the size and is a lot more comfortable to eat at. I had a beetroot latte which was more sweet than I expected. Look out for this superfood latte at The Sweet Meadow very soon!

We cruised over to nearby Newrybar for a quick stop at my hands down favourite retail space in Australia - Newrybar Merchants. I'm partial to an old cottage - of course - but I love that this store is a collective of makers and artists who all have the opportunity to showcase their wares in more of a lifestyle setting. Across the road is the award-winning Harvest restaurant (their kitchen garden is next level). We sat on the verandah and drank a housemade kombucha with some fresh sourdough - this is vegan living at it's best!

My last stop was Broadbeach, Gold Coast in Queensland. So many plant-based eateries have popped up here since I last visited (granted it was almost four years ago), and I had less than 24 hours here! We ate dinner at The Cardamom Pod which is a vegetarian restaurant with plenty of vegan options. I'm not really a fan of buffet-style eateries but I'd be keen to try this place again on a weekend when they offer breakfast/brunch items. I was starting to get homesick so I ordered the buckwheat pancakes from BSKT Cafe at Mermaid Beach for breakfast - cool vibe and good pancakes, but not as good as The Meadow!

Blend Love, Greenhouse Canteen and SeraBar Burleigh are all other plant-based cafes that are producing the goods along the Gold Coast, just not enough hours in the day to get there.

There's always next time...

Beauty & The Vegan - Part I

beautyAishe Besim

When I opened The Sweet Meadow cafe I expected questions from customers about how we make a particular dessert or what thickener we use in sauces, but one question I get asked quite a lot is what makeup / beauty products I use. Who would have thought?!

While I called myself a vegan since the day I stopped eating animal products, it took a little longer to transition away from other non-vegan products that I was using on my skin & body. Now, after four years as a vegan, I'm almost there! 

The term "cruelty-free" gets thrown around a lot in the beauty industry and it can be misleading, especially for us vegans. Cruelty-free basically means the brand who makes the product does not test on animals, although that same product may include animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax or honey and still be labelled "cruelty-free." Go figure. 

In this post, I will share my holy-grail cruelty-free makeup products and where you can purchase them (stay tuned for Part II for skin/body products). Most of these products are by brands that are considered high-end, however I see no point going out and buying cheaper alternatives if they aren't the ones I personally use. Brands such as NYX, Australis and E.L.F. are cheaper alternatives with a lot of vegan makeup options.

Australis Banana Powder - I use this to highlight under the eyes (a must when you wake up at 5am), as well as the centre of the face (forehead, nose & chin).
Laura Mercier Translucent Powder - This is a cult beauty product for a reason. Sets your makeup without creasing, caking or flashback. Buy it from David Jones or Sephora in Australia.
Hourglass Luminous Bronze Light Bronzer - Finding a vegan bronzer is bloody hard work but this one is a gem and worth the price. 
Jeffree Star Cosmetics Skin Frost Highlighter - Get ready to glow for the gods - this highlighter is bomb. Jeffree may be a polarising personality but he gets points from me for creating an entire beauty brand that is vegan. 
Tarte In Bloom Eyeshadow Palette - Disclaimer: this eye shadow palette isn't vegan. While the brand Tarte offers an impressive selection of vegan makeup, some of their eyeshadow shades contain carmine, a purplish-red pigment made from dye obtained from a beetle. Without a doubt the most difficult vegan makeup item to find is eyeshadows, as most brands use carmine in their formulas. I'm taking the matter into my own hands as I am in the process of creating my own custom eyeshadow palette - more on that later.

Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Powder - This is a must-have for those of us with oily skin. Also living for Charlotte's rose gold packaging.
Cover FX Illuminating Setting Spray - Like Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Cover FX's entire collection is vegan. Their setting spray gives the skin a nice glow without being oily.
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer - Makes your skin feel as smooth as a baby's bum. Get your hands on a sample - there's no going back.
Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Youth Boosting Foundation - A great foundation for everyday wear with a good colour range. 
Beauty Blender - This sponge is worth the hype. Blends liquid products into the skin like a dream. 
Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer - I love this concealer because it's so hydrating. I have a few different shades as I use concealer to highlight as well as camouflage imperfections.
Cover FX Customer Enhancer Drops in Sunlight - I mix this with my foundation to create a bronzed glow. Comes in handy if I've been fake tanning. 
Sportsgirl Draw The Line Eyeliner - The best feature of this eyeliner? It has a twist-up top meaning no need for a pencil sharpener - winning!
Stila Waterproof Liquid Liner - Super pigmented and works a treat over chunkier eyeshadows on the lash line. I never use anything other than black. 
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara - With a name like that you know this has gotta be good. I've lost count as to how many times I've repurchased this (best to only own one or two different mascaras at a time - they only last about six months once they've been opened). 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Butterscotch - The best lip glosses in the business, and every colour is vegan! Her eyebrow products are also the bees knees, and vegan-friendly. 
KKW Beauty Lip Creme - These behave more like a lip gloss than a lipstick, but the colours are ideal for everyday wear. 
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bow N Arrow - A passionate vegan herself, Kat Von D's liquid lipstick formula is one of the best I've tried. It lasts all day and doesn't dry out your lips like most. 
Jeffree Star Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick in Mannequin - This colour is the perfect nude. I always get compliments when I wear this colour.
Zoeva brushes - In my opinion, Zoeva offer the best selection & quality of vegan brushes on the market (some of their styles use animal hair, be sure to check before you buy if you're purchasing single brushes). 
Natasha Denona Star Palette - This palette costs a small fortune but Natasha Denona is a master of colour and the quality is insane. Like the Tarte eyeshadow palette, some of the shades contain carmine, which is not vegan. I own around 15 eyeshadow palettes and none of them are completely vegan. As a result, I've just purchased my first Z Palette and have started purchasing single eyeshadows from Makeup Geek and Anastasia Beverly Hills to finally create a vegan-friendly selection of shadows. 

For more information about cruelty-free beauty products make sure to check out Cruelty-Free Kitty, which has the most extensive resources to help you choose cruelty-free products.