Retreat Chef Spotlight: WildRaw

I was fortunate enough to meet Cat Cannizzaro in the magnificent Mentawai Islands during a ‘Yoga Trade’ experience in 2012. I was there on a work exchange to teach yoga and and help out around Togat Nusa Retreat for a month or so. Cat was the retreat chef and her partner Matt was surf guiding. Cat and Matt had been there for a while before I arrived, so they took me under their wing and showed me the ropes:) Dinner was one of my favorite times of the day, when we got to sit down together to share stories and enjoy Cat’s delicious and healthy meals. I was in awe of Cat’s knowledge and passion for cooking and wanted to soak up all her wisdom. There is a magic about travel experiences that seem to create life long friendships in short amounts of time. Although I was with Cat for only about a month on that island, I feel like the bond we have will last a lifetime. I still have yet to visit her and Matt in their hometown in Western Australia. Oh the beauties of travel! Thank you Cat for inspiring and believing in your path! Here we  catch up with Cat to learn more about her passion…

Tell us a little bit about your love of cooking and how you started WildRaw.

I started my love of cooking well before I was a teenager. My mum is a wonderful cook and she had to feed 6 kids and she also ran a small catering company. To earn some pocket money my sisters and I would go with mum to the functions and help prep food and do the dishes. I have two distinctive memories one is of my aching feet but the other was this canapé that my mum gave me to try. It was a vol au vent with a smoked oyster filling. I will never forget that moment, that taste and I still remember it today. Mum was pretty busy in the kitchen whether it be at home or work so I didn’t get that much time working with her but I got a lot of time watching and doing a little prep, even with my Italian aunties. My dad was a wonderful gardener and still is today at 80 years of age. We had mostly organic vegetables and fruit bought from orchards rather than supermarket food. My childhood set me up for what I do today, organic gardening and creating delicious recipes, and a lot of plant based recipes. I started working under a Michelin star chef who had crossed over to raw, he made me his apprentice and for three months he taught me as much as he knew before he returned to Europe and from there I began to spread my wings and create my own brand. It was a fun comment from a visiting massage therapist from another country who asked me if he could watch me make my signature raw chocolate tart. While he watched me working he said to me, ‘you are wild and you are raw.’ That is how I started WildRaw.

What do you enjoy the most about cooking for retreats? Do you have a personal yoga practice?

I just love creating amazing food with incredible amounts of flavour for guests at retreats. The food is one of the most important things on a retreat. If the food is bland or boring it makes people feel really dissatisfied and they will look for food in other places which might not be healthy. I get so much from designing dishes that delight and inspire people to eat well and keep that theme for themselves when they get home. I’m always happy to share techniques and recipes with them. One of the things I love about retreats is that you can roll out of bed and go straight into yoga practice and the guests love it when the head chef is rolling around the floor with them.

Do you have a tip that can help us all eat a bit more sustainable and mindful?

Grow as much as you can.  If you live in an apartment or somewhere that has no garden at all you can always grow some herbs in pots. Go to your local farmers market and cook with seasonal fruits and vegetables. By putting your money back into your community you will always have fresh vegetables that have not been sitting in a supermarket cool room or in storage for weeks. Think about the proteins you would like to eat. Go to your local butchers and ask where does the meat come from? Is it local? Are the animals treated well? You will get much better meat and keep your local butchers business thriving if you spend a few extra dollars rather than shopping in a supermarket.

What are some of your favorite foods and flavors to cook with right now?

Right now it’s winter in Australia and the Brassica family is thriving so we have cauliflowers, broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale coming out of the garden. Cauliflower fried rice is one of my favourite things to make during this season. I feel like I’m hovering over the garden waiting for them to be ready to pick. Our cabbages are just about ready so we will be making a lot of kimchi and sauerkraut in the next few weeks.

What or who inspires you?

Anything that comes out of the garden. I love it when I am overseas and I go to a market. One of the most fun markets one year was in Quebec and it was snowing outside. Inside I found fresh kipfler potatoes and cranberries. I had never seen cranberries fresh in my life so it was so exciting. The people selling the potatoes gave me a traditional recipe and I had purchased some truffle oil in Naples so from that I made this amazing creamy mashed potatoes with truffle oil to go with our dinner that night and then I made a fresh cranberry sorbet. I get inspired from beautiful, real ingredients. It’s as simple as that.
Born to cook, eat, write and travel, Cat Cannizzaro is Australia’s leading raw food gourmet chef. Her food, recipes, chocolates and food styling are sought out around the world. Cat focuses on simple and seasonal ingredients and inexpensive kitchen equipment. She is the creator of WildRaw: It’s about teaching and sharing the knowledge of how to become more self-reliant and how to implement those lifestyle changes, simply, efficiently and without breaking the bank. How to make raw, vegan, cooked vegan and cooked vegetarian delicious food. How to shop consciously and where to find those great food buys. Connect with Cat here:

The Holistic Evolution of Business Culture

This article is being graciously shared with us by Living Yoga Ambassador, Lauren Lee. You can find more inspiration at the community project she founded, ‘Raise Your Beat’.

Over the past 50 years throughout many Western cultures, social status (perceived success) was easily defined by material wealth. Whether it was a home, car, accessories for your home, clothing, jewelry (or all of the above) it was culturally accepted (and expected) to consume more, simply because we could.

(*Of course this mentality was more present in certain countries, and excluded those who rebelled and lived their lives according to their own set of rules.)

Fast forward to 2015, and there has been a drastic shift in values and perspectives. Currently our culture is redefining our relationship to ‘wealth’ and the age of mindless holistic1consumption is slowly fading.

The trend of shopping at corporate stores and buying mass manufactured products is dying out. It is now replaced by the urge to support smaller personalized shops that offer local, organic and fair trade products.

Businesses are constantly becoming more innovative, resourceful and eco-conscious with their products, priding themselves on quality over quantity and strong ethics that are aligned with their economic growth.

Along with the change in what we are buying, is the change in how we are buying. Outdoor markets and festivals boasting gourmet foods and live music are replacing air-conditioned malls with fast food courts and parking lots.

And the most interesting progression is quite possibly the transformation in our desires.

The desire to even physically own a product is instead being replaced by the ability to have access to that product.

This radical revolution from our changing desires supports a culture of business that offers new ways in how we use products.

For example: a bike, which you can rent near your flat, ride across the city, and drop off at your new destination…music, movies and media stored online, available to you on anyDSC06331 device with or without internet… experiences working abroad in exchange for accommodation and food…taxi services, cars, sleeping accommodations and land directly rented from one another.

These products are more flexible, offering more availability and affordable prices. They support us to share and network with both our local and global communities. And most important, they protect the environment and work to create a smaller carbon footprint as ultimately, fewer goods are being manufactured.

As mindful consumers, we are becoming more interested in the ‘root of the product’.

What is the true purpose behind its use (is it necessary), and how can it become a tool to enhance our lives?

Can this product become an experience and offer me more value?

What is the impact of this product on myself, my community and the Earth?

Our intentions as a culture are becoming more yogic with a better understating of our yamas and niyamas (ethical guidelines), connecting to what’s truly important – access over ownership, a quality eco product over one that harms our bodies and nature, and community success over individual success.

These Yogic principals encompass multiple aspects of healthy production and consuming, and are at the heart of the evolution of many small entrepreneurs and big corporate businesses alike.

It seems the rise of yoga among the masses has begun to permeate deeper than asana with a rising in consciousness as a culture. And even in a context, which seems so far from ‘yogic’ (such as consuming) the new trends in business are implementing more holistic perspectives to sustainable and healthy options.

As a consumer, the next time you are in the market for a product, stop and think (research) which companies are offering that same product in a more user-friendly, enjoyable and eco-conscious way. Remember that you always have a choice and your lauren_bancosupport for these products will radiate far beyond buying and using them, as you will be a positive example of a mindful being for your own circle of loved ones.


LAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

Lessons From the Jungle

This article is a repost by Laruen Lee, founder of RAISE YOUR BEAT. The original posting can be found HERE


Arriving back into Mother India (after having spent a couple of years away) I have been instantly been brought back to ‘earth’. From the moment I landed, all was like a familiar dream – the chaos, the simplicity, the incredible sense of freedom and openness that jungle3permeates every cell in my body. There is something powerful about being in tropical weather and immersed deep in nature, something magical about weaving on a scooter through a family of carefree cows, and something deeply rejuvenating about walking barefoot and letting my curls soak up seawater and coconut oil.

I have spent 3 months at Lotus Yoga Retreat, nestled on a secluded eco farm Khaama Kethna, which lies in a lush valley of jungle and forest. I have felt myself get grounded, quite literally as I spent my time living in an open air hut, and my feet continuously covered in the fertile red earth. I have been spoiled with fresh foods – so fresh the chef collects it from the organic gardens and passes through the restaurant with bundles of color cradled under her bosom. I have indulged in some of the deepest sleeps of my life, falling and rising with the mysterious jungle sounds which somehow meld into one melodic rhythm. I have taught yoga to diverse and unique individuals from all over the world who leave their daily lives behind and arrive for the same universal sense of connection.

It has been an absolute retreat in all senses (for both myself and students) as modern luxuries and ‘comforts’ are stripped away, which can be a shock to the system at first, as we become more exposed, more raw and more genuine as we journey closer to freeing the mind from conditioning. As we begin this process of cleansing, it’s as if we throw away all the ‘junk’ (negative emotions, stress, ego) and layer by layer we uncover (or come back to) our true being.

This true being is our most authentic self…the part which lies within the heart center and is inherently connected to our unique purpose and life all around us.

Experiencing a foreign culture (such as India) and immersing yourself in nature both bring us closer to this place of authenticity, truth or being. 

In a country like India, life is more simple, and its accepted. The majority of the jungle2population still cook over a fire and take showers with cold water using a bucket. Many do not have a car, or use modern electronics such as toasters, refrigerators or washing machines. Most go to the vegetable market and local shops each morning to purchase their daily amount of milk and produce.

Without the need to ‘consume’, life becomes more sacred and more free. Most work to provide shelter, food and support their families. There is time for prayer, play, cooking and community –  and this is honored as a culture.

Experiencing a world and lifestyle unknown (or unnatural) is key in expanding our perspectives, appreciating our own circumstances or maybe even aid us in observation of unnecessary aspects of our own lives.

When we find ourselves in nature, we are reminded of the power of ‘prana’ or natural intelligence which surrounds us each and every moment. This prana is what moves life and it instantly connects us with this place of authenticity. 

It is why turtles return to nest their eggs in the same spot. 

It is why whales migrate thousands of miles.

It is why ants can carry up to 5,000 times their weight.

It is a seedling sprouting from the earth to follow the light.

It can be seen in a cascading waterfall.

It is the sun and moon rising.

It is the tides of the ocean.

It is the climate and seasons.

It is life and death.

It is the flow of communities and societies. 

It is the life that moves us, guides us and supports us.

It is within and around us.


Living in harmony with nature, washing my clothing by hand, enjoying daily morning chai before the sun rises, sweeping the leaves from the yoga shalas, lighting sandalwood incense and reciting a simple mantra of ‘love, trust, surrender’ have become my daily jungle4rituals which are simple and sweet. They have helped me to find more gratitude, devotion and love.

Of course living simply in nature and in a foreign context has its challenges, some days more than others, and when things don’t go ‘as planned’ I have found laughter to be a powerful practice.

I am working to extract the positives from living in a foreign culture (which at times feels very unnatural) and becoming aware to life’s lessons, big and small, which are found in every moment when you open your eyes.

I am grateful for this space to retreat and reconnect. To live without internet and without walls. To experience new people and places. To let go of any plans and definitions of who or what I am ‘supposed’ to be, instead urged to slow down and let go. Through this surrender I have become more clear in who I am and what my purpose is…and more awake to the pranic flow of life and beauty that is around us each and every day. I am leaving the jungle feeling blissed and blessed for this experience, and look forward (without attachment and identity) for whatever life brings.

lauren_bancoLAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

Zen and Tomatoes

This fall harvest season, I feel super fortunate for being able to experience working on the tomato farm at Greg’s Organics in Grass Valley, California. Greg is a California Certified Organic Farmer who specializes in open pollinated heirlooms. His passion, enthusiasm, and Zen practices in the garden have led to his successful business in the Gold Country. Not only does he produce the areas most delicious and vibrant tomatoes, he continues to inspire and give back to the local community.

“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” ~Buddha 

Tending a garden is hard work. It requires effort, care, and patience. While helping in the fields picking gregtom2tomatoes, I found the groove by tapping into a meditative state. Next time you find yourself working in the garden experiment with the practices of Zen:

“Zen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character “chan,” which is in turn the Chinese translation from the Indian Sanskrit term “dhyana,” which means meditation.

Zen, like Tao, cannot be totally explained in words. Much of your grasp of Zen must necessarily depend on your own intuition.


  • Zen is more of an attitude than a belief.
  • Zen is the peace that comes from being one with an entity other than yourself.
  • Zen means being aware of your oneness with the world and everything in it.
  • Zen means living in the present and experiencing reality fully.greg1
  • Zen means being free of the distractions and illusory conflicts of the material world.
  • Zen means being in the flow of the universe.
  • Zen means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.

Thanks Greg!!! We LOVE your tomatoes!


Special thanks to the amazing photography by Akim Aginsky:



Sunday Pancakes

Sundays are all about eating and there is no better way to start (or end) a Sunday than with these pancakes. My two lovely friends and I, munched them non stop!!
Organic, gluten free, sugar free and super simple to make.
No wonder we had no guilty feelings after having eaten about 10 each.
All you will need for these amazing cuties is;

-3 Eggspancake2
-1 cup Coconut sugar -you can buy this in any organic/raw/vegan shop. Tastes like caramelized sugar but has a softer texture and is made purely out of coconut palm tree.
-1-1.1/2 cup Gluten free flour – The amount depends. You will want the dough to become really hard as we will liquidize it with the milk afterwards.
-Soy, Nut or Rice milk. Depending on your diet. All three taste amazing in the dough.
-*Optional Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Vanilla

All you do is mix the eggs with the sugar. Once mixed, add the flour and as I said before, make the mixture get really hard. Here you can add Vanilla, Nutmeg or Cinnamon spice into the dough.
Whilst mixing, add the milk. The consistency should not get liquid as water but not too solid as yogurt. Et voila, finito!

Instead of using butter in the pan, try to use coconut oil or sunflower oil. You will love this! They feel so light 474221_10151044158366414_257310983_o1in your stomach, personally I wouldn’t want to eat any other pancakes anymore . And on top of that, knowing they are h-e-a-l-t-h-y?!



Danae Borsani, a German/Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate Blogger ( about what she does best; The art of Food, Fashion, Travel and Health. She inspires readers towards a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.