Journey to wellness: a personal healing journey

My journey to wellness took route when I became rootless. A road trip heading above the 29th parallel became a wild call to adventure.  In the raw open space I was invited to take an inward journey. It was a bleak road.  I was 12kg overweight with a daily wine habit that was flourishing in to a full blown addiction.

I had just finished a fine arts degree and like most new graduates the big what next question was looming. I was 42 with a cooking pedigree and industry burnout, an artist, a dreamer, a late bloomer. All I really wanted was a life less ordinary. So we took to the road – and found one. Eight months ago my Rock (his name is Rock – and he is my rock) gave away our worldly possessions, let out our apartment on Airbnb and drove off into the sunset. Actually, it was pouring rain, with cold nipping our ankles; we were seeking the raspy breath of summer and wild space.

Ningaloo Sunset – the greatest show on earth

We found the sun and a stretch of wild beach on the Ningaloo Coast.  We erected a tent with the Indian Ocean lapping at our door, living to the rhythm of the tides, catching our fish and living without shoes. We never wanted to leave – so we didn’t. We stayed for eight months watching the subtle changes in the landscape as the great orb of sun slowly started to heat things up.  In the gentle space of an aimless day I began to feel connected. I listened to a part of myself that I had not heard or had squashed down – she wanted to stop drinking and start healing. Amazingly, I listened.

I was 42 with a cooking pedigree and industry burnout, an artist, a dreamer, a late bloomer.

Once sober I began to clean up my diet, I gave up sugar, wheat, meat and grain. I started running, meditating and practising yoga. I began to feel a profound sense of wellness and joy in daily life. I took to yelling thanks at the sky. “Who are you?” I asked myself in the mirror – and “Can you stick around?”  After years of yo-yo dieting and food deprivation, I emerged from my skin like a snake. I rediscovered the joy of cooking, I began to immerse myself in nutrition, I wised up and whipped up delicious food.

I am not an expert and what works for me might not work for somebody else. I cannot tell anyone what to do, or not do – but I can cook.  Once food was a hedonistic pleasure, a comfort or a mindless satiating of the appetite.  Now it is medicine and fuel but it also pleasure.  I love to eat health.

My bespoke kitchen trailer

This blog is a place to share my recipes and my journey. It will be peppered with stories from the road and photographs of this gob-smackingly beautiful country. I want to share my personal healing journey because I could never have imagined how I feel today.  I used to think that being healthy was not being sick.  Now I know that it is so much more: it is a feeling of being connected to the Earth – a sense of purpose and a little bubbling brook of joy.

Our physical journey has bought us back to Perth, we have just added to our family: we now have a 1960s caravan in woeful condition, but with a bit of grunt and a lot of vision we think she will be a beautiful home for our gypsy wanderings. I will post pictures as she emerges, like me, transformed.

We were seeking the raspy breath of summer and wild space.

Because it is summer – because I worship the sun and because I love this salad – I am sharing a recipe for Laotian lettuce cups, inspired by my travels in Laos. I love the fusion of Asian and French in Laotian food. This salad dressing takes a classic French mayonnaise and transforms it to a break-dance on the tongue with the addition of lime juice and fish sauce. I have provided some vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

Iceberg lettuce is a nutritional lightweight compared to its dark leafy cousins but it’s right for this salad – the icy watery crunch really lends itself to the robust flavour.

I have provided vegetarian options, you could also make a vegan version by omitting the eggs and using soaked cashew nuts as the base of the mayonnaise. Obviously this would need just a few tbsp of oil as it will not be a traditional emulsion.

Laotian Lettuce Cups

Laotian Lettuce Cups


Enjoy x


Bell Harding

Bell Harding

Bell is wholefood cook and a barefoot gypsy. In search of a life less ordinary, she packed a tent and art supplies and took to the road. Seeking the dirt and poetry in the Australian landscape, she also discovered a path to wellness. Bell discovered what it means to be well by healing herself from weight gain and alcohol dependence. She draws on a professional career in cooking to create recipes that celebrate real food and shares her journey as a curious nomad.

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