Homage to BLACK

This is the second time Bettina McILwraith and I are getting together to play with colours, textures and food. It is so exciting to contribute to Bettina’s series FEED THE MINDS. This time around we chose our favourite colour black.

Anyone who knows me, can testify that I usually rock up in black or white or a combo of them. I am a black ‘n’ white – in or out – love it or leave it kinda gal 😉

Black is technically not a colour but the absence of colour. Still it is: timeless, elegant and sophisticated and in clothes easier to wear than any other colour and it makes everyone look good. It adds a bit of mystery and is needed to give other colours depth and variation in hue. Black is the colour that has the most contrary meanings as it can stand for power, strength, death, rebellion as well as being prestigious, sexy and therefore boosting confidence.

Black foods are linked to the kidneys and bladder and therefore the element of water in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Kidneys are the powerhouse of the body, supplying reserve energy to any organ running low on Qi (life force energy). The kidneys have our adrenal glands sitting on top of them which are the source of extra energy when we need it from a more western herbal medicine viewpoint. During periods of stress we switch into “fight or flight” mode and adrenalin is pumped into our system. Our current lifestyle in most ‘civilised’ cultures forces us to be on high alert for most of the time which leads to symptoms that are summed up under the term adrenal exhaustion.

When it comes to anti-oxidant content – darker fruits and vegetables usually contain higher amounts of phytochemical that are associated with anti-proliferative ( inhibiting cell growth) effects. Most of these phytochemical belong to so called flavonoids and polyphenols.  Flavonoids have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities through different mechanisms in cell-signalling cascades.

Scientists have started to measure antioxidant content in foods and it is expressed in the ORAC value. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). You might have heard of SUPERFOODS – those are foods that have exceptionally high ORAC values.

Dark colours such as dark brown and black in plants and animals are linked to melanins, tannins, quinones – these are considered to be anti-inflammatory, protect against UV radiation and oxidation especially of lipids in general. Tannins, which are a subgroup of polyphenols,  are even able to chelate metal ions which can be beneficial but may also lead to mineral deficiency especially iron if consumed in high amounts (e.g. black tea & coffee). To reduce this effect enjoy your tea and coffee at least 1-2 hours apart from food.

There is one more phytochemical worth mentioning: PEA (2-phenylethylamine). It is found in many algae, fungi, bacteria and some other plant species. PEA is the decarboxylation product of phenylalanine, a protein that is turned into a neurotransmitter in our body. Therefore, PEA has also been found in the brains of humans and other mammals. PEA has stimulant effects, like amphetamine,  which lead to the release of so called biogenic amines, including dopamine and serotonin. All of these don’t sound to appetising still? Well how about I tell you that cacao is really high in PEA too? How about I tell you that PEA is also called the love hormone? It has an effect that is similar to the activity of the natural endorphins, an effect that is known as a “runner’s high”, “an immediate shot of happiness, pleasure, and emotional wellbeing”. So no wonder that everybody loves chocolate! For us women these little chemicals and the high mineral content especially magnesium is the reason why chocolate becomes our best friend every month.

Ok…..I might have gotten a little carried away with so much information on all the goodness in black foods. GEEK ALERT!

But I did not forget to actually make food.  Here are some delicious recipes incorporating all the goodness of black foods.

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Recipes for body & soul

Miso Eggplant Sushi topped with Seaweed salad and crunchy Wakame

makes about 25 pieces of sushi

Sushi Rice:

1 ½ cups sushi rice, well rinsed, add 1 ½ cups water

Miso Sauce:

½ cup Shiro Miso

¼ cup toasted sesame oil

¼ cup warm water


1 ½ medium sized eggplants, washed and cut into longitudinal stripes about 1cm thick (width of a finger), turn around and cut into 2cm wide rectangles similar to fish fillets on sushi

other ingredients:

Seaweed salad, small bag from asian market

Dried laver sheets (Sushi sheets)

Dried wakame (dried seaweed often used for Miso soup)

Umeboshi Plums as condiment

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Let the sushi rest for 30 min in water, cook on high heat until it boils.  Once the rice has boiled turn the stove back onto low heat and let it simmer for about 20 min. Remove the pot from the stove let it stand covered for about 15 min.  Put rice into a bowl and add ¼ cup of sushi vinegar to the rice and fold it under.

Let the rice cool off completely.

Make the miso sauce by blending all ingredients with a stick blender or whisk by hand.

Put the cut eggplant onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake on 200 degrees Celsius for 20 min. DO NOT SALT to avoid it from getting soggy. After 20 min flip the eggplant fillets and add about ½ tsp miso sauce on each piece and put the eggplant back into the oven on 220 degrees celsius for another 10 minutes.

Shape cooled rice into sushi rice and add a little more miso sauce on top.  Cut dried laver into thin stripes. Place a piece of baked miso eggplant on top of the rice and tie it down with the laver. Top the sushi with a small amount of seaweed salad and a sprinkle of dried wakame.

Serve leftover miso sauce on the side as extra dip and remaining seaweed salad as side too. Enjoy with tamarin or soy sauce and umeboshi plums.


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Black Sesame Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes with Sakura frosting

makes 20 small or 10 big cupcakes


1 cup dark chocolate, melted in water bath (available at bulk buy stores such as Scoop Wholefoods)
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup blanched almond meal
1 cup dates, soaked for 2 hours and pressed dry
½ cup soaking water from dates
½ cup brown rice syrup – if you like it a bit sweeter replace with coconut nectar
½ cup black tahini
½ cup coconut oil
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup deseeded fresh cherries
½ cup dried cherries


½ cup coconut butter, soft
1 TBSP coconut oil, melted
1 cup coconut cream, chilled overnight
20 deseeded fresh cherries
¼ cup dried cherries
Sakura essence (Cherry blossom essence) to taste – only put 2 -4 drops and try first before adding more as it is really strong.

Start with soaking dates, and putting the coconut oil and coconut butter into hot water.

In a high speed blender add all icing ingredients and blend into a thick creamy icing. Fill into an icing (patisserie) bag with your favourite nozzle and keep in the fridge until semi set (2-3 hours).

Combine all ingredients of the dough in a food processor apart from the fresh and dried cherries. After all other ingredients are a nice thick dough fold the fresh and dried cherries under by hand.

Shape round balls and place them into paper muffin cups in a muffin tray.

Bake on 180 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes. The outside of the cupcakes should be slightly crunchy whereas the inside should be still soft and moist.  Leave the cupcakes in the muffin tray in the switched off oven until cool.

Check if the icing is set enough to decorate your muffins. But make sure the muffins are cold enough before putting the icing on.  Add an extra fresh cherry on top and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. The muffins can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Creative Direction, Styling Mentorship:  Bettina McILwraith
Copy, Recipes, Styling & Photography: Rita Ince
Ceramics: A selection from Marie-Helene ClauzonMilly Dent 
Set and flowers:  The Nest Creative Space & Missy

With thanks.



Feed the Minds with appetite for decoration


Bettina, aka appetite for decoration,  is a chameleon of styling of interior, food and fashion with the emphasis on ethics and sustainability. Her diverse talents make her a sought after brand consultant as well as ambassador and agency that supports new talents and upcoming artists.

She has started the concept Feed the Minds on her blog to inspire people to explore vegan food with epic recipes that are easy to pull off for everyone.  For a couple of issues I am honoured to contribute plant based recipes. We are approaching food from a playful viewpoint and choose one colour every time and then based on that ingredients that are seasonal. This time it is yellow because it is spring and we are overflowing of  joy and excitement. This way we endeavour to work ourselves through the rainbow and maybe a little beyond as we like to bend the rules and conventions a bit.

….and it was all yellow

As colour yellow is associated with happiness, optimism, enlightenment and creativity, sunshine, spring and warmth. Interestingly it also stands for caution such as on traffic lights and is associated with some illnesses like jaundice. Nutritionally,  a lot of yellow foods are also significant sources of Vitamin C and Riboflavin (B2).  They are high in beta-carotene and phytochemicals called flavonoids like orange and red fruits and vegetables are too.

Vitamin C is commonly known to be essential for immune system function and makes a great ally with zinc to fight colds but is also forming a dream team to boost collagen production, is integral for gut lining integrity as well as essential to nourish our adrenal glands (for all of us stressed peeps).

Riboflavin (B2) is a precursor to the coenzyme FAD which is needed to produce energy in our body. After taking a B-Vitamin complex our urine often turns fluorescent yellow – this is the riboflavin excess that our body does not need and hence excretes as this vitamin is water soluble.

Curcumin in Turmeric, the current super star of complementary medicine has been used for centuries in Ayurveda for its great healing properties. It is well known for its antioxidant (fighting free radicals and hence anti-aging) , anti-inflammatory and hepato- and  neuroprotective activities. To increase absorption and bioavailability eat with fat as it is a fat-soluble phytochemical and add black pepper to boost uptake even more.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) yellow corresponds with earth in the five elements. Earth is linked with late summer, thinking, sweetness, as well as the spleen and stomach. Thus, eating yellow foods is believed to be an effective way to help reinforce and protect the digestive system.

Harvest Fresh Recipes

We are showcasing stuffed zucchini flowers on a crunchy spring salad and heavenly smooth and creamy mango mini tarts in this edition. Please scroll down for the recipes and some inspo on presentation.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers on crunchy Spring Salad

Makes 4 serves

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers:

1 ½ cups macadamias, soaked for 4 hours

½ cup preserved lemons, rinsed and chopped inklucuding pits

¾ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

Lemon rind approx 2×2 cm of one organic lemon

⅛ cup coconut oil

¼ tsp vegan probiotics


Put all ingredients in this order into a high speed blender and blend until you get a consistency like creamed ricotta.  

Per person wash 3-4 pieces of zucchini flowers and wash gently and remove the stamps from the flowers. Hold the petals open and fill with macadamia ricotta. Keep the rest of the macadamia ricotta and serve with the salad to dip the crunchy zucchini flower ends into it.

Spring Salad:

4 medium sized zucchini, cut into thin stripes with a vegetable peeler

1 ½ or 4-5 small summer squash, washed, halved and then cut into discs

2 baby fennel, washed, core removed, sliced thinly

Keep some of the fennel greens and add to the salad as herb for a dill-like flavour

1 ½ cups cut green grapes


Add all ingredients into a big mixing bowl and season to taste with lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil. Serve stuffed zucchini flowers on a bed of spring salad and a side of macadamia ricotta.

Mango Mini Tarts with Turmeric

Makes 6


1 cup activated almonds, ground into small pieces

½ cup dates, soaked for 1-2 hours and pressed dry

¼ tsp salt

2 Tbsp coconut oil


Add the activated almonds into a food processor first to grind into small pieces. Then add remaining ingredients and blend until you get a sticky dough.

Line tart tins with glad wrap – a little water in the tin first helps it to stick easier. Add equal amounts to all tins and press in firmly so you have a crust at least 2-3 mm thick.

Styled by Bettina McILwraith


Mango cream:

1 ¼ cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours, drained

½ cup water

1 mango, large & ripe, peelen and chopped

1 tsp fresh turmeric root, peeled

⅛ tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp coconut butter

⅛ cup coconut oil

2 tsp raw honey

1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsp Bee Pollen to decorate


First make a thick cashew milk in a high speed blender by blending ¼ cup of cashews with ½ cup of water.

Then add all remaining ingredients into the high speed blender by adding the cashews and chopped mange first at the bottom. Blend all ingredients until you have a creamy thick custard like consistency. Fill the cream into the mini tart bases and keep in freezer to set overnight.

Take out the mint tarts in the morning and let them slowly thaw in the fridge. Before serving take them out of the fridge for 10-15 min depending on how soft you want the cream to become.

Decorate mini tarts with fresh cut mango, edible flowers and bee pollen.

I would love to hear from you if you try any of the recipes. Leave a comment or tag me on Instagram on your version. 

Styled by Bettina McILwraith

Creative Direction, Styling & Mentorship:  Bettina McILwraith
Copy, Recipes, Styling & Photography: Rita Ince
Ceramics: A selection from Marie-Helene Clauzon, Milly Dent, Seema Stamou, and Trade the Mark
Set and flowers:  The Nest Creative Space

With thanks.





City Jungle

It is hard to see the bright side of things sometimes especially when it is dark grey all day every day with rain on and off setting an eerie mood. Every day I was longing for some warm sun shine to cheer me up.

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But then despite the circumstances Harry and I decided to venture out into the city and its little lanes and alleyways to dive into the shadows and discover serenity just there.

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Because the upside of grey weather and low hanging clouds is that life slows down – people are not out and about everywhere and so life in a big town becomes more calm and peaceful.

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There is always an opportunity to find stillness and reconnect to yourself. Even in the city jungle especially when you find roots that lead the way to reveal your essence.

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Thank you Harry for being adventurous with me and letting your light shine through.


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Portrait of a friend

Funny how some of us get nervous and insecure as soon as there is a camera pointing towards us. I know I do feel a bit uncomfortable in front of a lens and can sense how my body is becoming tense and all of a sudden I start worrying about what I should do to look “natural” and that just never works.

We are scared of not being pretty enough, beautiful, graceful, how are body & face looks and on and on it goes. I think we are mostly scared of really being seen – being vulnerable and letting our guard down.



This time I got to swap places and was behind the camera. I felt honoured that Marije trusted me to take her pictures even more so as she disclosed that she felt nervous and does not feel comfortable usually in front of a camera either. Just like many of us she was told as a young girl to ‘look pretty’, ‘ smile’, ‘ yeas but no not like that’,  ‘what are you doing with your face’……

We had to work on being comfortable with the uncomfortable as we took the photos along the Coastal Walk in Sydney with hundreds of people walking past us on a sunny Sunday afternoon.


It was worth it though – in the end after seeing her shots she told me: ‘Oh my god I actually really like them!’

Thank you for your trust and courage and to me you are very beautiful, feminine, strong in your gentleness and most of all brave for doing this in public.



Marije is a rock you can lean on as friend  and as business woman. A truly inspiring human being who always strives for self development and is constantly working on herself and in her spare time on the weekends making this world a better place. Her passion is to help others  on their own path as coach – get in touch with her on Instagram: @thegrassisgreensydney

Light & Shadow

I love black and white photographs it is almost like they make the time stand still and capture only the essence of something.

Here my beautiful friend Maryanne who is a soul seeker, light worker, artist, former dancer, yoga teacher, philosophy explorer and modern day poet. Head over to her blog https://organicallywealthy.wordpress.com/ or her instagram @organicallywealthy.


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What I love doing the most

Special occasions call for special creations.

It is one of the most rewarding things to see people’s faces lighting up with so much joy when they get to see their cake.

Check out some of my work on Instagram (@salutarybites) and order your own customised cake. For enquiries message me on Instagram.