vegan double chocolate hazelnut espresso shake from "Blissful Basil"pin it!pin it!
Hey 👋! Sending out my calmest and warmest ways of being on this grey Sunday. I’m spending most of this weekend working while my man fixes up some things around the house, but that’s about it for us. I think we might be squeezing in a movie night and a trip to the gym if we’re lucky ;)  We’re getting our downstairs measured for new floors next week and all of my excitement is focused on that, nerdy as it sounds. When we moved into the house, we kind of clambered to get furniture into our living and dining area. Now that we have the space and time, we’re doing a more mindful/permanent refresh. Greige oak-y floors, cozier couch, lovingly distressed and chipped white dining room table, new shelving, and antique brass/indigo/blush everywhere essentially.

While I dream about all of that, I’ve been putting a great new book to work in my kitchen. Ashley Melillo’s Blissful Basil, like her blog of the same name, has a special way of making you happy just by looking at it. One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to be on the receiving end of new cookbook promotions. Ashley’s sincerity and want for a better world through food rings so true in this book. It’s a surprisingly rare thing! I feel connected to her worldview just by reading and working through the pages.

There are notions of comfort in her recipes, but with much higher expectations via nourishing ingredients and creative cooking applications. Her food style is clever and re-assuring in a way. I’m a person that eats about 98% plant-based because vegetables, pulses, whole grains, nuts, and seeds make me feel great and also because they put me at peace in a lot of ways. I never want for outright cheese or egg replacements, but at the same time, I crave balanced flavour and proper texture in my foods. I think Ashley has a firm grasp on this delicate balancing act. Familiar, but never too on-the-nose.

I made her double chocolate hazelnut espresso shake because it really spoke to me when I was craving a chocolate shake for breakfast, basically. You guys are gonna freeeeaaaak if you make this. It’s rich and sweet and nutella-ish, but all the way healthy and energizing, too. Other recipes from the book that I’ve been into: baked mostaccioli with walnut bolognese + cashew mozzarella, puffy potato pizza crust, chocolate chip coconut oil cookie bars, blueberry muffin energy bites, and the garlic mushroom tacos w/ chipotle tomato crema. Ashley is a plant-powered wizard and believe me when I say that she’s given this cookbook-fatigued gal a whole pile of new inspiration.

To keep with my happy hour/link lovin’ theme, I’ve got a couple things here for you to check out while you sip on this shake :)

I love Emma’s work, the beautiful southern hemisphere light in her photos, her incredible recipes, but this post takes the cake (there’s also a recipe for cake within the post yessss). I relate to so much of what she says about the slow reduction in gratitude/setting of boundaries online.

The meditation of the everyday. So many things to love about this short article. It seems like there’s a tendency to view meditation as this tool that works toward a certain outcome. If anything, there are slow-simmering happy accidents as a result of regular mindfulness.”It’s not a miracle; it’s just you giving your mind some time to reflect.”

2017 is the year that I finally get my home to the point where I need it to be. I think the guiding idea of regular de-cluttering, while remaining sentimental/emotionally connected to things that tie me to certain emotional experiences is necessary. If you’ve seen shots of my kitchen shelves, you know that I like a warm, rich, and personal vibe that’s useful/tidy at the same time.

Old article, but a good one for those who are still feeling their way through new year ambitions. Journaling is my favourite tool for working out, giving thanks, developing recipes, getting out the things that I’m hesitant to say aloud, and… just about everything else.

The Side Hustle School podcast by Chris Guillebeau. My man and I are always proposing ridiculous side hustle ideas to each other (puppy portrait sessions etc), but if you’re serious about undertaking one, this podcast is a great place to start for insight.

vegan double chocolate hazelnut espresso shake from "Blissful Basil"pin it!

Print the recipe here!
Reprinted from Blissful Basil by arrangement with BenBella Books. Copyright © 2016, Ashley Melillo.
NOTES: I’ve only tried making this in my own high-speed blender, and I’m not sure that a regular one will cut it because there are some toasted, non-soaked hazelnuts involved. 3 tablespoons of hazelnut butter might be a good replacement if you’re unsure about your blender’s power.

1 ripe and speckled banana, sliced and frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup ice
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
2-4 ounces brewed espresso or strong coffee, chilled
3-4 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked
1 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons cacao nibs

Add the frozen banana, almond milk, ice, hazelnuts, espresso, dates, cacao powder, vanilla, and sea salt to a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.

Add in the cacao nibs and blend for a few seconds to roughly chop and incorporate them into the smoothie.

  • Pia15/01/2017 - 7:19 am

    I know HAPPY HOUR made its return last week, but I’m just glad it’s finally back! The weekend links you share with us are always so varied and I always end up checking out at the very least one of them. That is rarely the case though, as I generally click through to pretty much all of them. So, THANK YOU :) and Happy Sunday, dear xxReplyCancel

  • Smadar15/01/2017 - 10:42 am

    YUM. Can’t wait to make this.

    Great links, as always!

    Feel free to share pictures of your house with us ;) if it’s styled anywhere near as beautifully as your food shots… we’re in for a treat.ReplyCancel

  • Mer15/01/2017 - 9:25 pm

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you for linking us to Emma’s post about the plum cakes and her feelings about being a food blogger. It really touched my heart! As a reader and avid fan of the handful of beautiful food blogs that I follow, I am always so inspired and joyous about the recipes and writing I read . I had never thought about how it could feel very differently for the creator/writer on the other side. I want to take this opportunity to apologize to you for never posting and sharing my enthusiasm for your amazing work. As of today, that changes and I will remember to share my excitement and appreciation. Please know that your recipes inspire me and my family have had so many delicious and nourishing meals because of The First Mess. As well, you have introduced me to other cookbooks and writers through you generous reviews/sharing of the work of your peers, Thank you for that. Also, your logo is my absolute favourite. Sending you immense gratitude and much joy!ReplyCancel

  • Thea16/01/2017 - 5:29 am

    I always love it when I get an email notification about this post! It does exactly what it’s supposed to, I sit with a cuppa and have a moment to breathe and gather my thoughts. Also i can flick through your beautiful photography and inspiration recipes. HOW do you come up with some of these things!!
    With love from the UK XReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Well and Full16/01/2017 - 9:39 am

    Yayyyy I love your choice from the Blissful Basil cookbook! You are so right, Ashley’s joy and positivity just radiates from the pages like roaming rays of sunshine. And you captured her work so beautifully in your photos :) :)ReplyCancel

  • Emily16/01/2017 - 2:23 pm

    I’ve said this before, but I love your happy hour series. I read Emma’s post about blogging- I’ve noticed other bloggers expressing similar feelings in recent years. I don’t think lack of engagement is (always) related to lack of enthusiasm for the content. As social media has become big and popular bloggers make a living off of their blogs, bloggers have started to feel more like mini-celebrities than people just sharing recipes and stories. Particularly because they are clearly able to trade on their fame for sponsored content etc. Reasonable people usually assume that celebrities (even mini ones) are awash in praise and don’t have the time or interest to read individual comments, so it feels unimportant to maintain this side of the conversation.

    On the other hand, blogs in general have become sooo much less fun to read since it became a way of earning a living. I loved reading the early blogs that were distillations of a person’s life in and out of the kitchen, and felt like a sincere attempt at communicating with a community of like-minded food-interested people. There are still a select few that are like this, but I think the overwhelming quantity of the other kind has also dulled my interest and engagement a bit.

    Anyways, I love your work and frequently make your recipes! Thanks for all you do!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley17/01/2017 - 11:25 am

    Laura, thank you for this beautiful, thoughtful, heartfelt review. It warms my heart to read your thoughts on the book, and I’m grateful. So grateful.

    p.s. Just read Emma’s post after reading your thoughts here and felt like a weight was lifted. So relate to what she’s saying. There’s comfort in knowing that others are experiencing a similar climate of increasing pressures/demands with less appreciation in recent blogging times—thought maybe I was just becoming more sensitive!ReplyCancel

  • Jayani18/01/2017 - 12:05 am

    Beautiful pictures and wonderful recipes. I’m in love with this one in particular. I don’t have raw cacao powder atm, so will the regular kind do? Let me know :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/01/2017 - 8:15 am

      Unsweetened cocoa powder would work just as well :)

  • Julia22/01/2017 - 12:53 pm

    Hey Laura, I just read Emma´s latest post about how the online community has changed and how she´s kind of sick of it all… and I happened to read your comment there. That´s why I want to send my biggest thanks out to you, too, for keeping up this great site even if it means that you have to cope with brainless requests and stuff like that. Your site is one of my go-to blogs whenever I am searching for inspiration or a certain recipe or just when I need to get grounded and out of my head. Your personal way of photographing, writing and the insane amount of wonderful recipes that you share here are highly valued in my case. I also just listened to your chat with Jessica Murnane and man – I love your voice! Now when I read through your posts it is like I am hearing you talk, which makes it so much more tangible. Also I love when you are sharing links to stuff that you found inspiring, it´s a huge help in the insane amount of content that is on the web. So just had to get that out to you, because I am not a very frequent commenter. BTW I am so looking forward to your book, its going to be a belated birthday present for me :) Much love from Vienna! JuliaReplyCancel

  • Julie29/01/2017 - 7:16 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I’m a first time commenter here but a huge fan of your blog, particularly your happy hour posts! In fact, I’ve recently started a new blog and gave you a shout out (and a link) for your inspiration. Many thanks and lots of luck with the new cookbook! Can’t wait!ReplyCancel

  • […] a splash of good old fashioned coffee), it also just so happens to be vegan. Cool, huh? Pop over this way to have a gander at the full recipe – and may you enjoy every last […]ReplyCancel

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