vegan double chocolate hazelnut espresso shake from "Blissful Basil"
Hey there! Sending out my calmest and warmest ways of being on this grey Sunday. I’m spending most of this weekend working while my partner 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.

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 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 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. You will freak if you make this. It’s rich and sweet and nutella-ish, but all the way 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.

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.

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 partner 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"

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.

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