July, 2015

The latest turn in our travels has lead us to Mamallena Eco Lodge, near the Pacific coast of Panama, where we are volunteering for our keep and going full-eco-hippy as we bathe in Kombucha vinegar and let fish pedicure our feet in the fresh water pool… but more about that in a future post perhaps.

The lack of wi-fi and occasional power cuts are made up for in abundance thanks to the surrounding lush greenery and the never ending supply of juicy ripe MANGOES! Volunteering here is my dream come true… days are spent trying to keep up with the fruit plopping off the trees every second – no exaggeration it literally rains mangoes here.

So I’ve made it my personal mission to turn each and every one into something delicious and nutritious – yes, I have morphed into the mental mango smoothie/crumble/cake/curry lady.

The first idea to hit the oven was, of course, this delicious gluten-free, sugar free, dairy free, Mango Crumble! It went down a storm for desert but also makes a pretty rewarding post-morning yoga breakfast with a bit of yoghurt dolloped on top. And being sugar free etc etc.. you can throw that insane ‘no pudding before dinner’ rule straight out the window.

[If the Eco Lodge sounds like your kind of place and you’d like to volunteer or just be a guest there, then scroll to the end of this post where there’s more details…]

Mamallena Eco Lodge
[the actual view out of the guest house window]


Collect these ingredients from the surrounding jungle, or purchase them in a supermarket where there are less bugs to combat and far less chance of being drenched by a tropical downpour:


3 cups of oats

2 tablespoons of milled flax

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of seeds – pumpkin or sunflower seeds are wonderful – or go crazy and use both!

1/2 cup of chopped up almonds, walnuts or cashews – these make a lovely addition, but don’t panic if you don’t have any, it turns out just as magical without nuts

1/2 cup of shredded coconut – I used the coconuts off the trees here, and grated mine fresh, but if you get store bought shredded coconut beware for the sugar coated stuff as it is far too sweet and just gross

2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed up

1 tablespoon of honey, maple syrup, or whatever other fancy syrup substitute you may like to use

*This combo of ingredients is totally flexible – so go with what your crumble hungry tummy tells you. As long as when you combine all of the above you get a sticky, crumbly texture your crumble will turn out grand *

Mango Smoothie


5 large, very ripe mangoes, cut up into chunks, juice and all. If your mangoes aren’t super ripe and don’t instantly provide you with a big soupy mango base then you just need to boil them up in a pan first with some cinnamon and a mushed up banana for extra sweetness. Maybe add some water to boil them so you get a nice soft consistency if they’re really dry.

Juice of one lime


Find yourself a nice big crumble dish, pyrex is the main man. Combine either your ripe juicy mango chunks OR your cooked mango banana combo with the lime juice and fill the bottom of the dish leaving space at the top for your layer of crumbly joy. Next get a big bowl and combine all of the dry ingredients. If you want to add or tweak anything then don’t be scared – some vanilla essence can be awesome for the top, or maybe you want to go crazy and add some cooking chocolate drops or something – I’m not the crumble police you go ahead.

Then mush up the ripe bananas with the honey until you have a nice smooth mixture then combine the wet with the dry – get your hands in there and crumble it all about until you have a nice messy sticky mix. You don’t want it to all be in one gloop but you don’t want any dry bits either. If it looks a bit dry add more honey or maybe some apple juice if you have some in the fridge, that can be nice too.

Carefully and evenly crumble the topping over the fruit, you don’t want to pat it down too much or the crumble will drown in fruit so keep it looking messy and, well.. crumbly on top. Bake for about 20 mins at about 200 degrees. My test for knowing it’s done is when the fruit is bubbling away underneath and the top is gorgeous and golden and crispy to the touch. Remove and maybe sprinkle with extra cinnamon (I’m in love with cinnamon, I’d eat it raw if the chance of choking wasn’t so threatening).

Then either serve right away with maybe some coconut yoghurt or cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner or pud! This is a healthy crumble so anything goes, THERE IS NO SIN!

If you want to add some sin however.. I can lead you astray very easily with this cheeky little Coconut Rum Custard recipe. Sorry not sorry. It’s just too good.

Mango Crumble

A little more about Mamallena Eco Lodge….

Hidden away up in the mountains, the eco lodge is a handsome wooden guest house surrounded by acres of palm trees, spring water rivers and all kinds of edible crops which are slowly being nursed back to life having been left to be consumed by the surrounding jungle since the previous owner departed. Mamallena Eco Lodge is still a baby, having been open for just 5 months, but it’s already growing into a foodies paradise as the basil plants are painstakingly rescued, Kombucha is brewed and mangoes are harvested. If this sounds like your kind of place then you must check it out!

In their own words…

“Currently there is approx 4 hectares of lemons, and a huge array of other fruit tree orchards including grapefruit, satsuma, orange and mango) as well as vegetable and herb fields, a eucalyptus stand, many medicinal plants, two streams with swimming pools, some local tilapia fish, we also have fresh water shrimp. We will also be recycling wherever possible and aim to reduce our rubbish output to almost zero.. We have plans for a butterfly garden, underground shipping container bar, jungle hammock getaway a tree house cabin, chili plant maze, eco toilets, compost hot water and much more. The team consists of Will (Chili pepper specialist) Brandon (Bean paste specialist) and Bayron (plumbing specialist). Eva, Oscar and Julian can be found keeping the place looking great and helping with new and exciting projects. Chomba our puppy will greet you with a chirpy bark and wagging tail and Banana our resident horse will no doubt cross your path on her daily walks around the grounds.”

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