WELL BEING & OTHER STORIES

Recipes, rituals and other stories to realign the body and mind

summer

Wake Up Here: Danai Resort & Villas ~ For Suitcase Magazine

Wake Up Here, Wellbeing, Travel, Summer, Lifestyle, Commisions, Around the Worlddanielle coppermanComment
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A haven of relaxation on the island of Halkidiki, Danai Beach Resort and Villas marries modern comforts with all the charm of an authentic Greek retreat. 

Surrounded by lush pine trees and sandy beaches, and perched atop the rich, earthy cliffs that line the Aegean coast, Danai Beach Resort and Villas is one-of-a-kind, to say the least. While nature itself is enough to bring a sense of calm and tranquility here, Danai’s beautiful design and architecture, private beach cabanas, award-winning gourmet restaurants, top-of-the-range spa treatments and staff that will feel like life-long friends by the time you leave, invite guests to experience a whole level of relaxation.

Located in the remote Greek peninsula of Sithonia on the island of Halkidiki, Danai began life as a modest family home. Today it’s full of character, combining refined modern interiors and accessories with an authentic Greek aesthetic. Thick white pillars and marble floors, which feature heavily across the resort, are brought to life with bright bougainvillea, rattan accessories and antique furnishings.

As a family-run business, Danai is on a mission to make you feel at home. Staff operate across different areas of the resort, so you’ll often come across the same friendly faces again and again. This sense of community is what makes Danai so special, and once you’re welcomed into it so warmly, you’ll find it harder than ever to leave.

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Rooms

At Danai, the mantra is to never, ever “copy and paste” anything, which is why you won’t find two rooms or villas the same. Each abode is a canvas of whites and creams, bathed in natural light that pours through floor-to-ceiling windows. Yet as modern-chic as that might sound, bohemian accents and local, artisan-made ornaments enhance the character and charm of each space.

Some rooms boast private pools, while others flaunt impressive balconies overlooking the resort, its gardens and the sea. Opt for Guest Rooms and Suites if you’re visiting alone, as a couple or for a short time only (also perfect if you’re on a budget). Deluxe Suites (often with two bedrooms and ocean vistas) are ideal for those who want something a little more spacious, while Pool Suites are ideal for honeymooners who want a private dip. Alternatively, splash out on a Villa if you’re travelling with a larger group, for a longer period of time or if you’re expecting guests.

What’s for breakfast?

Pretty much everything you’ll find in Danai to eat is either sourced locally (from neighbouring farms) or produced on site – you can really taste the difference.

For breakfast, head to the terrace of the open-air Andromeda Restaurant, which, situated on the edge of the bluffs, is prime territory for gazing across the still morning waters. The breakfast spread doesn’t look unlike an art installation, featuring a selection of bread and baked goods, cheeses, cold meats and fish, a hot food station, traditional pastries and a build-your-own-bowl area, complete with fresh and dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cereals and granolas. Plus, the selection of freshly made Greek yoghurt and local honey – varieties include pine, blossom, thyme and more – are the best you will ever try. If nothing takes your fancy, order à la carte and enjoy eggs with a Danai twist.

How about lunch and dinner?

With three restaurants to choose from, you wouldn’t get bored if you dined within Danai at every meal time. Enjoy fresh fish, seafood and daily barbecue specials at The Sea Horse Grill – it’s the most authentically Greek of the restaurant options and situated in a secluded terrace by the beach. You can also order any time of day to wherever you’ve set up camp on the beach.

For a more modern take on Mediterrenean cuisine, try Andromeda Restaurant, situated among the impressive pine trees – it offers an al fresco dining option on warmer evenings.

For special occasions or as a treat, experience the award-winning The Squirrel restaurant, considered one of the principle culinary hot-spots of Greece. Its tasting menu spans French and Mediterranean fare, served in multiple courses and paired with wines from Danai’s on-site wine cellar.

Suite service is also available, and if you’re staying in one of the larger rooms or villas and have a large party or outside guests to entertain, the staff will gladly arrange a bespoke dinner party.

Further afield, local road-side or sea-side tavernas offer quintessential Greek cuisine in a slightly more informal environment. Get stuck in to trays of taramasalata and fava, and enjoy fresh and simple dishes, including grilled fish, seafood paella, mussels soup and some of the most decadent desserts of your life.

Is there a bar?

On a lower tier of the resort, just beneath the restaurants and edging closer to the beach, you’ll find The Philosophy Seaside Bar. Lounge in bamboo armchairs and cushioned benches as the sun sets, and later gather around the communal table at the bar.

If that’s not your vibe, Danai also boasts one of the best wine cellars in Greece. Enjoy a tour or a wine tasting session, or casually converse with the wine cellar’s passionate sommeliers to choose a bottle that suits you, then enjoy from the comfort of your room, balcony, patio or, better yet, the beach.

Amenities

Danai is the ideal place for anyone who wants to wake up late and follow a long, lazy breakfast with an even longer, lazier day on the beach. Although, there is more than enough to keep you entertained if you’d like something a bit more lively, or if you’re travelling with friends, family or young children.

Aside from the private pools, you’ll find a communal outdoor pool at the centre of the resort, as well as an indoor pool inside the spa area. You will also find a selection of spa treatments (including massages, facials and a nail spa), relaxation facilities, a state-of-the-art gym complete with a timetable of yoga, pilates and fitness classes (during the busier months), a private tennis court and table tennis. The concierge can also organise bike rental and external sports such as golf, horse riding, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing.

As for watersports and beach activities, book out a private beach cabana or, for a more active day at the beach, enjoy access to paddleboards, catamarans, waterskis, canoes, banana boats, donuts, seabobs, windsurfing, and more. Go a step further and arrange a day out on Danai’s super yacht, known as The Bird. Available to rent for between four and eight hours with staff and catering (and the best Aperol spritz you’ll ever drink), The Bird is the most luxurious way to explore the coast. Discover hidden coves and stop by private beaches along the Sithonia coast and Mount Athos peninsula. (Shared yachts and speedboat tours are also available, departing from the private beach and heading Neos Marmaras or Mount Athos).

Danai also has its own quaint “high street” of boutiques, which you’ll pass by to get from your room to the restaurants and to the beach. Find clothing, accessories, holiday essentials, toys, gifts and more, from local, national and international labels.

If you fancy trying your hand at something new, too, perhaps dancing, painting or cooking, it’s useful to know that the team will gladly arrange a private instructor. Day trips and excursions are also available on request.

Things you should know

Nikiti is the nearest town to the resort. While Danai have drivers and The Bird, if you want to explore independently, hire a car. Enjoy walks in the hotel surrounds or, further afield, find a selection of towns and villages to explore within Sithonia, Kassandra and Athos.

Whether you’re on the beach or by the pool, if you’re prone to suncream-smeared sunnies or overheating, the beach staff are at your beck and call, popping by regularly to offer sunglass polishing and to hand out semi-frozen flannels infused with refreshing essential oils.

If you’re visiting for a special occasion, the staff are eager to get involved. They will enthusiastically curate a celebration or prepare a surprise to ensure your experience is unforgettable.

Within a short walk you’ll find

The beauty of Danai is its seclusion and the way it has pretty much anything you could need all in one place. Within a short walk, you can enjoy 320m of private beach and explore the resort’s farmland and herb gardens. Explore local nature trails, most of which are unofficial – so you almost have to pave your own path.

* Danai Beach Resort & Villas (www.danairesort.com/+30 2375 020400) offers junior suites from £375 on a B&B basis, based on 2 people sharing.
** Danai Beach Resort & Villas (www.danairesort.com/+30 2375 020400) will offer The Bird from 3,250€ for 4 hours and from 4,450€ for 8 hours.
*** Danai also has its own wedding planner.

Summery Vegan Lemon Curd Tart ~ Vegan & Gluten Free Ofc

Dairy Free, Gluten free, Summer, Sugar Free, Sweets + Desserts, Vegan, Vegetarian, Recipedanielle copperman3 Comments
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Ah, this could be just about the dreamiest thing I've ever made. I thought it would be impossible to recreate a favourite of mine (and many's) - The Lemon Tart - using all-natural and vegan ingredients, but it wasn't, and that's why we're where we are today. First off, this post contains around 3 to 4 individual recipes in itself; not only a lemon tart but also a lemon jam, a lemon curd and a biscuity base you can use for all kinds of sweet treats, desserts, freezer granola (I'll explain later) or simply enjoy as a snack. 

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+ You can make this recipe into one big tart to serve sliced (right), or you can use smaller tart dishes to make individual tartlets (left). You can also make this into more a cheesecake pot if you don't have the right kind of tart dish, by filling small ramekins, small bowls or even glasses with some of the base mixture followed by the filling on top.

The Basic Biscuity Base

You can take inspiration from pretty much any recipe for a raw dessert when looking for a quick and simple base for a conventional dessert; whether you intend to make an entirely raw dessert or not. You can make a basic base for any dessert with pretty much any combination of nuts / seeds, coconut oil or butter and a little natural sweetener. I've given up using recipes as it is so easy to judge by eye how much oil and by taste how much sweetener you need to add to any amount of nuts / seeds for it to work as a base. The magic of a raw base like this is that the hard work is done by the coconut oil / butter and the fridge / freezer. It is so simple, and the result is always perfectly crunchy, creamy and crumbly. I use the same kind of recipes as the bottom layer for dessert pots, the base for cheesecakes and as an easy alternative to pastry shells - as I have done here.

+ You could make this tart on a more conventional pastry shell if you feel so inclined / prefer it / have more time and patience on your hands. The pastry from my recent Savoury Vegan Picnic Tartlets recipe would work amazingly with this filling.

Components

Makes enough for 1 medium to large tart dish, or about 8-10 small individual pots / tart dishes

200g raw cashews
200g raw almonds
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3-4 tablespoons honey, medjool dates or other natural sweetener of choice (I find 3 tablespoons is enough to make the dough stick but add more depending on your taste preferences)

+ You can of course use a combination of any other raw nuts and / or seeds you have on hand. I love using pecans or walnuts, and sunflower seeds for a nut-free option.

Process

Simply add your nuts / seeds of choice to a food processor and blend until ground into a fine, crumbly consistency. With the machine still running, slowly pour in the coconut oil followed closly by the honey or other natural sweetener of choice.

The mixture should begin to clump after 30-60 seconds on a high speed. Add a little more oil if the mixture seems too dry and/or a little more honey or sweetener of choice if the mixture isn't sticking and holding together when you press it with your fingers of the back of a spoon or spatula. You want it to stick and hold a compact shape.

Now, cut a strip of baking paper almost twice the diameter of your tart dish (do the same for each small individual tartlet dishes if using). Lay the baking paper across the tart dish as centrally as possible, with the baking paper flat to the middle of the tart dish, and the ends of the laying long outside of the dish. This will help you to lift the tart out once it is set.

Next, transfer the base mixture into your tart dish or tartlet dishes, and use a spatula and / or your hands to spread the mixture evenly to the edges. Press the mixture down until it is compact, and use small handfuls to press some of the mixture up and around the sides of your dish too. 

The base should be about 1/2 cm - 1 cm thick at the base, probably naturally a little thinner around the edges. Transfer to the freezer to set whilst you make the filling.

+ Leftovers tip: You can use any leftover base to energy balls or bars, either rolling it up or pressing into bar moulds or even tuppaware boxes. You can also crumble it into a small container and leave it in the freezer to enjoy as an instant granola for breakfast.

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The Lemon Curd Filling

I have previously made an all-natural lemon curd recipe but it contained eggs and quite a bit of coconut milk which made it quite heavy and rich. This new versions is incredible, I'm genuinely smiling just thinking about it. 100% vegan / plant based and 100% natural and unrefined, you won't find the usual eggs, overload of sugar or butter that is traditionally used in conventional recipes / lemon curd products, or any additives, preservatives and weird thickeners or acidity regulators (err, sorry what?).

As mentioned in the intro, you get 3-in-1 with this recipe. The earliest stage of this filling makes the most delicious lemon jam, which can be used on toast, in yoghurt or enjoyed with baked goods. The next stage makes the perfect lemon curd, which can be used as a spread, a dip or a side for fruit salads or other desserts. And the final stage is your lemon curd tart filling, which could also be used as a slightly richer and creamier spread, dip or side for other desserts. The choice is yours.

Components

140g coconut oil, melted
juice of 6 lemons
160-180g honey, coconut sugar or other natural sweetener of choice
6 tablespoons arrowroot powder
6 tablespoons soy yoghurt (can replace with other yoghurt of choice such as coconut, oat or almond yoghurt. Those who eat dairy can also use probiotic dairy yoghurt or double cream)

Process

Measure the lemon juice, oil and honey into a medium saucepan over a medium - high heat. Immediately whisk in the arrowroot. Add 3 tablespoons first then whisk until fully combine, then add the remaining 3 tablespoons and whisk again.

Heat over a medium - high heat until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. It should become incredibly gloopy. Also, during one of my test runs, a lot of the oil separated and sat on the surface, but if this happens it will all turn out fine, so don't worry.

As the mixture becomes thick and gloopy, remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture vigorously for 1-2 minutes (may need longer if your oil has separated slightly). The mixture should calm down and become a smoother more creamy looking texture. Return to a low-medium heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, whisking every so often to avoid any sticking and burning.

When the mixture is thick, smooth and glossy looking, remove from heat and then whisk in the soy yoghurt (or whichever alternative you might be using), one tablespoon at a time, until smooth. This will make the mixture thin a little but don't worry, it will set perfectly.

Pour the mixture into your tart base or tartlet bases, filling it up to come almost level with the edges of the base. This time, place in the fridge for about 1-2 hours to set fully.

+ Leftovers tip: If you have leftover filling mixture once you've filled your tart or tartlet bases, pour the remainder into a jar or container and store in the fridge. You can serve a dollop alongside the tart for anyone who wants extra, or you can use to accompany breakfasts (such as granola and yoghurt, fruit salad, spread on toast or on porridge) or other desserts.

Once set, slice and serve with an extra dollop of soy yoghurt (or you preferred alternative) and a side of fresh, seasonal fruit. Keeps for 1 week in the fridge. To keep for even longer, slice and store in the freezer; it thaws back to perfection in no time.

+ Decoration tip: You could try swirling an extra dollop of soy yogurt into the middle of the filling before setting, to create a marbled effect. You could also garnish with edible flowers, lemon slices or other fresh fruit of choice

Sunlight Therapy and How To Have Safe Sun

Essentials, Beauty, Natural Living, Traveldanielle coppermanComment
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If you're anything like me, you'll have a tendency to gravitate outside at the first sight or sense of sunshine. I am a sun baby through and through; I could basque in it - literally soak it into every pore of my body - until it goes down. When it's not sunny, I feel low, but as it rises day in day out, I always tend to rise with it (regarding my sleeping patterns are as they should be and not disrupted by stress or other factors).

It fascinates me why we are all (mostly) drawn to and addicted to the Sun. It enlivens the senses; it governs many natural bodily functions, such as sweating, hydration, metabolism and mental wellbeing; and it permits more time outside, meaning more fresh air, more nature and more freedom out of the constant confines of an office and / or home. Our modern lifestyles are predominantly based inside, exposed to artificial lights and screens, and it's thought that these conditions may encourage and even worsen Seasonal Affective Disorder. So, seriously, make a conscious effort to get outside a few times a day (that doesn't include your commute).

The Pros

The sun triggers the production of endorphins, which just make us feel good.

Vitamin D. You all know about that.

The Sun is energising. Its rays and the frequency of its energy is absorbed into our cells and fuels our internal systems. In other words, it boosts the metabolism and feeds our internal processes.

A surge in metabolic power can have domino effects on nearly everything else going on within. From how we break down energy from food and how strong our immune systems are to the behaviour of brain chemicals and other substances that contribute to mood, weight, energy and more.

It increases positivity and elevate low moods. As well as endorphins, we produce higher levels of serotonin when exposed to more sunlight, a chemical / neurotransmitter believed to help regulate mood, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. It is known to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Think of it as Sunlight Therapy.

It brings people together more. When the Sun is out - especially in the UK as it's so rare - there is a stronger sense of community and connection. People gather more frequently to and generally spend longer together, as the days are longer and lighter.

Sunlight can also help regulate sleeping patterns. With more exposure to light, the sleep hormone melatonin is more efficient and we tend to produce more of it, meaning we sleep better and at more natural times, which may mean we're able to wake more easily too.

The Cons

Over exposure to the Sun has been linked with accelerated aging.

Over exposure to the Sun has also been linked with risk of developing skin cancer.

In warm, humid climates, dehydration is a common side effect of too much time spent in the Sun. This includes dry skin as well as internal thirst. Drink more than you usually would and moisturise like you mean it.

Overuse of sun protection can lead to greasy, oily skin and clogged pores (choose a natural one, for this reason if nothing else).

Below are a few summertime beauty products I've tried and loved or have been recommended recently; most are natural, organic, free of parabens and other nasty chemicals and / or ethical in some way, but some are a little guiltier. I use a combination, depending on where I am, what my skin is doing and what kind of skincare support I need in each present moment.

A Few Skincare Brands You Should Know About

Prep

Decleor Aromessence Solaire Tan Activator

Holistica 'I Am Balanced' Crystal Mist with Orange Bloom and Smokey Quarts

Sukin Balancing Anti-Pollution Face Masque

Loli Beauty Purple Corn Grain Face Mask

Loli Beauty Plum Elixir

Madara Brightening Aha Peel Mask

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

Protection

Biosolis SPF 50 Solar Spray

Organii Sun Milk Cream SPF 50

Madara Plant Stem Cell Age Defying Face Sunscreen SPF 30

Kypris Pot of Shade

Green People's Organic Sun Cream SPF 30

Endota Spa Daily Defence Cream SPF 50

Darphin Soleil Plaisir SPF 30 

Susanne Kaufmann Sun Cream Cell Protection SPF 25

Acorelle 100% Natural Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30

Aethic Vegan and Eco Compatible Sunscreen

Hurraw SPF 15 Lip Balm

After Sun

+ Directly after exposure to the sun and / or if you have light burns or any sensitivity, try to avoid heavy creams or oily products and opt for lighter, more cooling treatments.

Vegan, Paraben-free Aloe Vera Gel / Organic Aloe Vera Gel or even better, fresh Aloe Vera gel scraped from the plant

Cucumber slices or natural cucumber water

Pure Organic / Raw / Manuka Honey face mask

Loli Beauty Aloe Blueberry Jelly

Loli Beauty Blue Cornflower Water / Chamomile Lavender Water / Rose Water

Espa Soothing Body Oil

Espa Regenerating Face Treatment

Organii After Sun Cream

Green People Hydrating After Sun

Biafine Emulsion Hydratante

Fake it

Luna Bronze Sunless Tanning Lotion

Luna Bronze Eclipse Tanning Moose

Tan Luxe Rejuvenating Anti-Age Self Tan Drops

Tan Luxe Tan Booster

Tan Luxe Hydrating Self Tan Water

Tan Luxe Illuminating Tanning Butter

Espa Gradual Tan Moisturiser

Espa Gradual Tan Face Concentrate

Lavera Self Tanning Lotion

Eco by Sonya Invisible Tan Cream

Tanorganic Certified Organic Self Tan Lotion

Kora Organics Gradual Self Tanning Lotion

Glossier Hydrating & Soothing Moon Mask Face Treatment

111 Skin Hydrating Sheet Masks or Khiel's Instant Renewal Concentrate Mask or Origins Soothing Lavendar Soothing Sheet Mask