Cookie Dough Energy Balls

Hi Savvys,

This pregnancy has been so different when compared to my first – I have more aches and pains, less energy, felt more nausea in the first trimester, to name a few symptoms.  I am also craving more sweets than before, which is very new because I usually prefer savoury snacks.

Because I strive to have healthy treats in the house, I decided to make this Cookie Dough Energy Ball recipe to have readily available in the fridge and freezer for all of those mid-afternoon sweet cravings.  These are especially delicious alongside a matcha or raspberry leaf tea (to help prepare for birth).  Ezra even loves these, calling them “cookies”, so the name is well suited!

Usually energy balls require nut butters, but I wanted to make something more accessible with things I had already in my pantry, such as whole roasted cashews, oats and mini chocolate chips.

Try out this recipe and be sure to have a stash in the freezer for when you’re also craving something sweet, but healthy!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Makes about 20 energy balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews (roasted or unroasted, use whatever you have on hand)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Start by creating the base, which is essentially a cashew butter.  In a food processor, add the cashews and maple syrup and process until a smooth butter forms, about 1 minute
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the mini chocolate chips and process until a dough forms
  3. Once a dough forms, you can either mix in the chocolate chips by hand or pulse them into the dough just until incorporated
  4. Using a mini cookie dough scoop, make the energy balls by rolling them out in your hand
  5. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for even longer (we usually ate them up in a month!)

Dream Kitchen Renovation Details and Reveal

Hi Savvys,

I am finally getting around to putting together a blog post about the details around our kitchen renovation that we completed back in September 2021. 

I am so happy that we finally did it after living in our small 1100 sq foot townhouse for over 5 years.  Originally, since Milton, Ontario was seeing huge increases in sale prices of homes, especially in townhomes , we were looking to upgrade our home during the pandemic.  However there were so many bidding wars and even if we were able to sell our house, it was very hard to find a home that we wanted to upgrade to.

The pandemic allowed us to save loads of money we would have otherwise used for travel and decided to invest it in our kitchen and our home when we decided to stay, at least for a little bit longer.  Even though Ezra was only a year old when we started construction, as well as us working from home full time. he actually adapted really well and it worked out for us in the end. We had set up a little station where we were able to to live on the top floor and utilize our bedrooms as different play stations for him.  I was especially proud because out of the 6 weeks that it took to complete our kitchen renovation, I was able to make the majority of our meals at home – I think we only ended up ordering once or twice during the entire process!

Check out our rennovation vlog here

See below for the details of our before and after!

Our Old Kitchen:

The original layout of our kitchen wasn’t very optimal – there was a wall that created a hallway from our front door to the dining room / living room area.  The kitchen itself had dark cherry wood cabinets and had a kitchenette that faced the front of the house.  The space wasn’t optimal as we hardly ever used the kitchenette and there was a lack of sufficient pantry space so we had a large 5 x 5 Ikea Kallax unit that I got of Kijiji to hold all of our kitchen necessities. The floors were also very dated and overall the kitchen wasn’t really my style. Honestly, when we had originally bought the house, I had certain things on my wish list and literally nothing on it was met, so this kitchen was really getting on my last nerve especially spending so much time in it during the pandemic.

Originally I was going to DIY and paint the cabinets white and change the counter tops ourselves, however the space itself was still not an optimal layout and we decided that we would just invest in a rennovation as it would increase the value of the hosue, whether we were going to sell or rent it – either way, it was a plus!

The Interviewing Process:

I knew I wanted a farmhouse inspired kitchen with gold elements as well as a large farmhouse sink.  Luckily for me, this is the style of most modern kitchens so when we were researching contractors, it was very easy to show them inspo photos for a quote.

We started the research for a contractor in May 2021 and had received quotes from 4 companies with the description of our dream kitchen in mind.  We received a range from $30K to $80K for what we wanted to accomplish. 

This included a full demolition, knocking down walls as well as changing our floors.  The best advice I received when we interviewed different companies was that you didn’t want to necessarily go with the cheapest or the most expensive, and to choose the company where you could build a good relationship with.

In the end we decided to choose Eureka Kitchen & Bath for those reasons.  They ended up being mid range and we decided to choose them because we got along really well with our designer, Annie.  Annie really brought our vision to life and we worked together to incorporate things that were both functional and decorative as well as practical for our growing family.

Our New Kitchen:

The majority of the materials were included in our quote and I liked how the cabinets were also made locally in their facility in Oakville.  The only materials that were not included was the flooring and light fixtures – however the flooring company, Milton Factory Tile Depot did give us a great discount.

We had implemented some upgrades, such as removing our popcorn ceiling, installing pot lights as well as lights under the cabinets, which was well worth it because it really helps to elevate the kitchen.

Originally we wanted a subway file for the backsplash, but decided to go with a herringbone pattern which I think elevates the look of the kitchen even further. We also upgraded our hood range (no more microwave for us! That’s right, we do not have a microwave in our home) and installed a drink station which is perfect for our family.

Our budget in the end was $50K and the kitchen cost us under $45K.  We are very happy with the end results and even almost after a year later, the kitchen still feels very new and fresh!  Can’t wait for our next potential renovation!

Products in our new kitchen:

Dining Room Chandalier

Kitchen Island Pendant Lights

Side Table

Wishbone Dining Room Chairs

Spice Racks

Round Mirror

Learning Tower

Don’t forget to check out our video for the full reveal!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Vegan Coconut Energy Clusters with Aquafaba

Hi Savvys,

Having healthy snacks around the house for me is key to ensuring we don’t buy junk food impulsively.  I created this recipe after seeing so many people rave about the Costco coconut clusters and knew I wanted to try making it for myself.  I’ve never tried the Costco version, but I’m sure mine stands up to it well!

This recipe uses aquafaba (a.k.a bean water) as a binder along with chia seeds.  I always have an abundance of aquafaba in the freezer from when I cook dried chickpeas, so I make a conscious effort to try to use it up.

These clusters are a perfect road trip snack and stays crunchy for days (if they last that long)!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup aquafaba
  • 1 ½ cups flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup and aquafaba and whisk until well combined.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Let the mixture sit while you pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  5. Using a spoon, scoop out about a tablespoon (or 2) of mixture onto the parchment paper, about an inch apart.
  6. Bake at for 10-12 minutes
  7. Let cool completely before eating and placing them into a container for storage.

How to Hang a Gallery Wall in Under 30 Minutes

Hi Savvys,

I am no stranger to hanging up gallery walls around my home.  I love the look of they look on our wall as it serves both home décor as well as memory keep sakes.  Since we renovated our kitchen, we had to take down our Wedding memory wall that was in our living room and had waited for months before finding the perfect place to relocate our memories.  We decided to hang it on our staircase, and since we have a process down, I wanted to share that with you!

I remember the first gallery wall I put up was not exactly the best, it was a bit crooked and not spaced out as I had envisioned.  After hanging up many gallery walls around our home, we have a process that can get it up in under 30 minutes, even with a toddler running around!

Equipment that you will need:

  • Step stool/ladder
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Power Drill or Screw Driver (though I highly recommend investing in a power drill, even helpful for putting together Ikea furniture!)
  • Nails and Nail Anchors (if you will be hanging in drywall and not a stud)
  • Pen
  • Scrap Paper/News paper to serve as “templates” for your frames
  • Tape
  • Frames for your memory wall

Here are the easy steps to hang your gallery wall up in under 30 minutes:

Step 1: Arrange your frames on the ground in a way that you would want them displayed on the wall.  This step is honestly the longest step because you can play around with so many variations of how you want your gallery wall to look.

Step 2: Turn the frames around so that you can see the back of frames and where the hooks are.

Step 3: Using scrap paper or newspaper, create templates for each of your frames by measuring out/cutting out/taping together pieces of paper that will match the same size of each frame.  Place the templates onto each frame.

Step 4: For each “template”, using a pen, mark off where the nail looks are – this will be your guide for when you drill your nail into the wall

Step 5: Now that you have your frames laid out along with their associated template on top, transfer the templates onto your wall and secure using tape.  This is where the time saving comes because you can rearrange the templates on the wall or adjust the spacing based on the amount of wall your have.

Step 6: Once all of your templates are on the wall, you can start drilling holes and installing nails into where you have indicated in your template.  Note that you should use nail anchors if you are drilling the holes into only drywall and not a stud.  Use a stud finder to locate the studs.

Step 7: Hang your frames

Step 8: Step back and admire that you had just completed this in under 30 minutes!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Vegan Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Hi Savvys,

I have been obsessed with scones ever since I tried the famous scones from Cobs many years ago.  I’ve missed the buttery yet subtle sweetness from these scones and knew I wanted to make my own vegan version.  These blueberry scones take literally minutes to put together and is very easy to freeze.  I always have a few in the freezer to satisfy any cravings.

You can easily change the fruit in these and make your own custom scones by using my recipe as a base.  I have a few other flavours I am testing out and can’t wait to share them when they’re done!

Hope you enjoy my easy Vegan Blueberry Scone recipe with a lemon glaze.

Now set forth and be savvy!

Ingredients for Scones

  • ½ cup soy milk + 1 tsp acv
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed and 3 tbsp hot water)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted vegan butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Ingredients for Lemon Glaze

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. Make your flax egg by mixing the water and ground flax seed in a small bowl, set aside.
  2. Make your vegan buttermilk by mixing your non-dairy milk and ACV in a bowl, set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
  4. Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut the vegan butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles large pea sized crumbles.
  5. In another bowl, mix the flax egg, vegan buttermilk and vanilla extract together.
  6. Add the wet ingredients, blueberries and lemon zest to the flour and butter mixture.  Mix until it comes together.
  7. Shape the dough into a large circle about 1 inch thick – I also like to shape them using a round takeout container that’s been coated in flour. 
  8. Place the dough into the fridge while you pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  9. You can also pre-make this dough and store it in the fridge overnight so you can bake them first thing in the morning. 
  10. To bake, cut the round dough into 8 wedges and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  11. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
  12. While the scones are baking, make the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice together.
  13. When the scones come out of the oven, let them cool slightly before drizzling he glaze over top.

Vegan Raisin and Pistachio Shortbread

Hi Savvys,

The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s time for baking season to commence!  I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, but I do like things that are both sweet and savoury.  My vegan raisin and pistachio shortbread cookies are perfect for me because they are not too sweet but savoury because of the pistachios and vegan butter.

These cookies are so easy to make and you can easily make the dough and store it in the freezer until ready to bake!  I hope you make them and enjoy them with your family.

Now set forth and be savvy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened
  • ¾ cup icing sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ¾ cup chopped unsalted pistachios
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, icing sugar and zest from 1 orange until smooth
  3. Scrape down the mixture from the sides of the bowl, add flour and mix until just incorporated
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and continue to mix until well incorporated
  5. Grab 2 pieces of parchment paper approximately 12×16 inches
  6. Separate the dough in half, and place on top of each piece of parchment paper
  7. Starting with the first sheet, being to roll the parchment paper over the dough to form a log that is about 2.5-3 inches thick
  8. Fold the ends of the parchment paper around the ends of the log and continue to roll the dough over itself to form a seal (you want the parchment paper to completely encase around the dough)
  9. Repeat with the 2nd piece and dough
  10. Let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes
  11. Once chilled, it will be easy to slice – using a serrated knife, you should be able to get about 15 cookies per log
  12. Arrange cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (you can use the parchment paper you used to wrap the logs in the fridge) – the cookies will not really expand so they do not need to be space too far apart, but make sure they are not touching as they will stick as they bake.
  13. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown
  14. Let cool before serving or packaging for the holidays!

Tofu Halloumi with oil free Chimichurri Sauce

Hi Savvys,

I have been on a craze with meal prep since my fitness challenge back in January of 2021.  But especially since going back to work full time, it is so important for me to have meals prepped for the week so that I can concentrate on work and spend all of my extra time with my son!

This has made me want to utilize sheet pan means!  Not only are sheet pan meals so easy to prepare, but you can make so many different dishes with minimal effort!  I especially love this tofu halloumi with chimichurri sauce because it can be eaten on rice, in a salad or even a wrap!

Check out the full recipe below!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu

Directions for the Tofu Halloumi

  1. Press the block of extra firm tofu by placing it I the bottom of a salad spinner or strainer, placing a plate on top of the tofu and then a heavy pot on top of the plate to press.  Continue to the next step.
  2. To the bottom of a shallow glass container, mix all of the marinade ingredients until smooth
  3. After about 20 minutes, cut the tofu block into 16 even pieces
  4. Place the tofu pieces into the marinade and gently coat each piece of tofu. 
  5. Cover and let marinade for 4 hours – it’s even better over night

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed mint
  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 cup packed parsley
  • ½ cup packed basil
  • 3 stalks of green onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup red win vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp chili flakes

Directions for oil free Chimichurri Sauce

  1. Add all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Store in a class jar
  3. This sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to a week – I also like to divide in 2 and freeze a portion for later use

Directions for tray bake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper
  3. After the tofu is done marinading, place them evenly onto the tray
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping half way
  5. Optional: at the same time, you can also roast some veggies to go along side for a full meal!

Vegan Pumpkin Lasagna

Hi Savvys,

I have been making this lasagna for years and have finally been able to put the recipe down on paper for you!  This pumpkin lasagna recipe uses the pumpkin puree I have frozen from my Halloween Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin, but you can use store bought pumpkin puree in this recipe as well.

This lasagna recipe has such a subtle pumpkin flavour while still having the heartiness of a traditional tomato-based lasagna.  The pumpkin cream sauce makes this dish really decadent and goes perfect along side garlic bread or a salad.  My little one really loves eating this as well since there are so many textures from the vegan tofu ricotta to the TVP meat filling.

Hope you guys try out this recipe.  It is one of my favourites to make and you can surely make it ahead for an easy weeknight meal!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Ingredients

  • 1 block of firm tofu, drained (420 G)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  •  ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (300 g)
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk

Ingredients

  • 1 package beyond meat or lightlife ground
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups TVP, rehydrated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 can 28-ounce diced tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

You will also need:

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella style cheese

Directions

  1. Cook 9 lasagna noodles according to package directions.  If you are using no-boil noodles, then you can start making the lasagna filling
  2. Vegan Ricotta Filling
    • Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth
    • Set aside and prepare the meat sauce
  3. Meat sauce:
    • Heat a sauce pan over medium heat
    • Add the veggie ground and let it brown, about 3 minutes as you break up the pieces with a potato masher or a wooden spoon
    • Add in the onion and garlic and sautee together until fragrant, about 2 minutes
    • Add in the spices and toss until fragrant, about 1 minute
    • Add the soy sauce and the rehydrated TYP and mix until it is well incorporated into the veggie ground mixture
    • Add the salt, pepper and canned diced tomato and let simmer over medium-low as you prepare the pumpkin sauce mixture
  4. Pumpkin Sauce:
    • Make your roux by melting the butter over medium heat
    • Once the butter is melted, add in the flour and mix until the flour is combined
    • Add in the rest of the ingredients, whisking until there are no clumps over medium high
    • Once the sauce comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low and continue whisking until you get a smooth sauce
  5. To layer the lasagna:
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
    • Add a thin layer of the meat sauce to the bottom of a 13 x 9 in baking dish
    • Add a layer of noodles
    • Add half of the ricotta tofu mixture on top of the noodles
    • Add 1/3 of the meat sauce on top of the tofu mixture
    • Pour ½ of the pumpkin sauce on top of the meat mixture
    • Add another layer of noodles
    • Add the rest of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles
    • Add 1/3 of meat sauce on top of the ricotta mixture
    • Pour the rest of the pumpkin sauce
    • Add a final layer of noodles
    • Add the rest of the meat sauce
  6. To bake the lasagna:
    • You can make this ahead of time and bake it when you are ready to eat – just be sure to put the cold lasagna tray into the oven as you are preheating it to prevent the tray from cracking
    • Place the baking dish on top of a cookie sheet to prevent spillage in your oven
    • Place another cookie sheet on top of the lasagna dish to create a lid
    • Bake at 375 for 45 minutes
    • Remove the cookie sheet lid and sprinkle the vegan cheese on top, bake for 15 minutes
    • Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving

Easy 5 Ingredient Salsa

Hi Savvys,

I love having a well stocked pantry so that I can whip up any recipe that my family is craving that week without having to go to the grocery store.  One of my pantry staple recipes is this easy 5 ingredient salsa.  The base of this salsa is canned diced tomatoes, and it uses ingredients that are already in my fridge and pantry.  The only ingredient that we may or may not have is cilantro, but a quick hack is to save some in the freezer for last minute recipes like this one.

All of the ingredients are thrown into the food processor and is ready in less than 5 minutes.  I love using this salsa to eat with tortilla chips, as a topping to tacos or even as a sauce for casseroles. Can be jarred and frozen for up to 3 months!

Leave a comment below on what you like to use this salsa with!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz can of whole or diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded if you prefer less heat)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions

  1. In a food processor, add all of the above ingredients
  2. Pulse for 30 seconds, ensuring that the salsa is chunky
  3. You can freeze half of the salsa for a later use for up to 6 months in the freezer
  4. Serve with chips and enjoy!

Bali, Indonesia in 3 Days

TheSavvyPantry_Bali3Days_Title

Hi Savvys,

If you read my previous post where I shared my 1-day itinerary in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then you already know that this is the final country we visited on our 16-day Asia trip that spanned 4 countries and 6 cities!  As mentioned, we had started and ended our trip in Singapore because it was the cheapest way to travel to Asia from Canada (Toronto specifically).  We had decided to spend 3 days in Bali just to get a taste of the city while we were on this side of the world.  To get to Bali, we flew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via Air Asia.

Here is some general information of our time in Bali, Indonesia:

Transportation from the Airport to our Hotel: We had arrived to Bali International Airport Airport (DPS) at around 1AM.  Since we had arrived really late at night, I decided to book a round trip taxi service which cost about $33 CAD.  Luckily, we had our international SIM (more details below) since we needed access to WhatsApp to reach our taxi driver.  You could also take a grab or a taxi, but after reading about the taxi service in Bali (more specifically the taxi mafia), I was a bit weary and was more comfortable with the taxi service.

Transportation in and around Bali: Bali itself is quite large and there are many areas where you can stay.  We stayed in the Kuta area.  We chose this location because we were able to walk to the beach, restaurants and the mall.  However, when we took our day trip to Ubud, we did book a private taxi which was convenient because we got to see many things in and around Ubud.

WIFI Access:  I will leave the same comments as my previous post as it is still relevant here.  Connection was only available in our hotel room and some public establishments.  To get around this, what I have done in the past, and also implemented on this trip, was to load our itinerary on Google maps and download the map for offline navigation.  This method works most of the time, however sometimes the GPS gets confused and doesn’t know where you and ends up restarting.  You end up having to use the map the old way (aka without a GPS and finding your own directions like a traditional map).  However, I do recommend just purchasing an international SIM card that you can use and be connected to at all times (if you need to).  Personally, for me, I preferred to be connected the entire time since the offline google maps kept restarting and was unable to locate us.  It is also useful if you plan on using Grab while in the city.  This was the first time travelling internationally where we had purchased an international SIM to be able to be connect to internet and I must say that now I am a converted.  The international SIMs are very affordable and offer a lot of data (we would also turn it off if we were going to be in a given location for an extended amount of time to preserve data and batter power) and we were able to use the same SIM for the remainder of our entire trip in all of the other countries.  We did end up using 3 different types of connection, but I recommend the last option so that you can be connected the entire time:

  1. International SIM (purchased at the airport) – Once we left Singapore and arrived to Phuket Airport, there were lots of boots that were selling international SIMs. We ended up purchasing one of these at a booth called Smile and they connected it for me – it was super easy to use however kind of confusing because I couldn’t understand how much data I had left so we used it sparingly during our visit in Phuket and Chiang Mai.  Because we paid in cash, I unfortunately do not recall how much we spent, but it was definitely less than $10 CAD.
  2. Rented WIFI Device – I had actually rented a device when we were in Singapore for our visit in Bangkok since we were going to be here for 3 days without any excursions. We rented a pocket WIFI which we picked up at the BBK airport via Klook.  In total it cost $26 for the 3 days (which at the time we thought was a bargain) – they do have to hold a deposit which is refundable once you return the device, so make sure you have enough cash to avoid the change in exchange rates on your credit card.  It was also not clear how much data we had but I think it was unlimited.  I didn’t mind the hand held device since we had used one when we visited Tokyo, however I definitely would recommend an international SIM when possible.
  3. International SIM (purchased online and picked up at airport) – After doing more research while in Bangkok and realizing that the convenience of being connected to data became a growing need, which was already 6 days into our trip, I did more research on Klook. I found SIMs available for 15 countries in South East Asia, which meant that for the remainder of our trip (still 7 days), we could be connected in all of the countries (Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore) and not have to worry about finding WIFI.  We found a great deal with the SIM only costing $8.90 for 4GB of data from Klook.  This option ended up being the best because not only is it a one-time purchase (no need to return anything like we had for the rented WIFI device), but you can actually download an app that came in English that tracked how much data you had.  If you did go over the allotted data, you had to option of adding more data if necessary.  I really liked the convenience and visibility of this option the best and felt in full control.

Hotel in Bali:

We stayed at the White Rose Kuta Resort.  We had different expectations since the previous 10 days were spent at hotels in the city, so it was a very nice change of pace staying at a resort.  We had never stayed at a resort in South East Asia before and didn’t realize that it is very similar to staying at resorts in the Caribbean.  Even though we arrived very late, at around 1:30 AM, there was someone at the front desk to greet us.  I really liked the villa feel of the resort, and it was quite large that you didn’t really run into other patrons on the premises.  They also had a lovely breakfast buffet that was included in our room rate.  I enjoyed the congee, noodles and fresh fruit every morning of our stay.  We had also visited the spa on our last day which was actually quite affordable and very relaxing.  The location of the resort is great as well – they had security that checked all of the cars and vans coming in and you could only enter if you were actually a guest of the resort.  It was also in walking distance to the beach and restaurants.  We really enjoyed our stay here and would highly recommend in the future.

Budget: We had budgeted $88 CAD cash per day, which was meant to be used for food, transportation and shopping.  We knew credit card wouldn’t be readily available in most establishments so we carried more cash than Thailand.  Again, I also used Budget your Trip to gauge how much expenses to expect per day.  See below for the breakdown of our actual expenses (keep in mind this is for 2 people):

  • Airfare from Kuala Lumpur to Bali for 2 people: $300
  • Hotel: $197 (for 3 nights)
  • Cash (mostly for meals): $265 CAD
  • Meals (on credit card): $85
  • Shopping and other expenses (on credit card, which includes our excursion, souvenirs and laundry): $258
  • Transportation (credit card): $33 (Shuttle taxi)
  • Total cost of trip for 3 days: $1138

Excluding airfare, we actually spent $280 per day, or $139 a person.  If we exclude the cost of the excursion, laundry and souvenir (we bought a painting), we actually only spent $97 per day per person, which is closer to the $88 per day approximation found on Budget your Trip, however we did splurge on some of our meals which we charged to our credit card, so I still highly recommend this website as a great resource in budget planning.

See below for the full details. Don’t forget to also check out some highlights from our trip (video above).

For the itineraries from the other areas we visited, see below:

Singapore in 5 Days

Phuket, Thailand in 2 Days

Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2 Days

Bangkok, Thailand in 3 Days

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1 Day

TheSavvyPantry_Bali3Days_Title_Day1-SeaTurtleKutaBeach

Since we arrived after midnight, our first day was a true full day and we intended to take full advantage of it.  Since our hotel included breakfast, we decided to walk over to Kuta beach right after breakfast to take advantage of the morning.  From our hotel, it was less than a 10-minute walk.  The beach itself is huge and even though it was really sunny, we had a nice breeze.  We spent about 2 hours here relaxing and soaking up all of the sun.

Around 11:30 AM we were getting hungry for lunch so we decided to walk around to look for a place to eat.  We stumbled upon Paper Boy.  We loved that they had vegan options and a patio where we could sit outside and enjoy the sun.  It is beautifully decorated and the owner came and spoke to us for a bit as well.  We each ordered a smoothie and shared an avocado toast and tofu poke bowl.  I highly recommend visiting here.

After lunch, we walked around a bit for some sight seeing and also went back to Kuta beach.  We have planned to visit the Bali Sea Turtle Society where they release baby sea turtles back into the ocean daily, however this was later in the afternoon.  You will need to follow their facebook group to get the exact times and days they release the baby turtles as it can vary based on how many turtles hatched.  The day we were going to visit, it was scheduled to start at 4:30 PM however it was recommended that we arrive 1 hour before since it is first come first serve.  When we arrived, there was already a huge crowd of people.  It is a lottery system that they had set up, and everything is by donation so you have to line up and wait until they hand out tickets to be able to participate in releasing the baby turtles.  I also really liked that while we were waiting, they also demonstrated how they wait for the turtles to hatch and provided background on why they are an endangered species.

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After releasing the sea turtles, we went back to the hotel to wash up before heading over to Gabah Restaurant for dinner.  Gabah was on the higher end and we ended up paying for our dinner with credit card, but it was well worth it.  We had their Sayur Mebrata, which is a vegetarian dish, as well as their Ayam Betutu.

TheSavvyPantry_Bali3Days_Title_Day2-Ubud

When we had planned to come to Bali, I knew I wanted to spend a day visiting Ubud.  When researching, it was recommended that we spend the night here however since our time was limited, we opted for a day tour.  We booked our tour through Get your Guide and it included a visit to the Waterfall, Rice Terraces and Monkey Forest, to name a few.

We hadn’t realized this but the tour ended up being a guided private tour.  Our driver picked us up at our hotel at 9 AM and we began our trip to Ubud.  We really like the idea of having a driver since they’re able to give us history and background information of the sites we were going to visit.

Our first stop was to visit the Tegenungan Waterfall.  It is quite touristy here with lots of shops and photo ops.  We had the option of bringing our bathing suits and swimming in the falls (which we did not do on this trip), however it was quite packed with other tourists.  The falls itself are wonderful and it was a nice visit here.  They also had monkeys on the premises playing in the water as well.

After a 30 minute visit to the waterfalls, we headed over to Teba Sari Bali Agrotourism where we learned about local herbs, spices, teas and coffee.  It seemed that a lot of guides add this as a stop to their tour, which was quite informative and a nice break especially if you were swimming in the waterfalls.  When we arrived, we were met by another private guide where he talked about the various trees and plants that were grown.  After that he brought us to a shaded picnic bench where we got to have a tea and coffee tasting.  We enjoyed this very much because we were able to bring back some tasty teas for our families to enjoy back in Canada.

After about a 45-minute visit, we headed to our private van.  Since it was still pretty early for lunch, our tour guide asked us if we were interested in artwork.  My husband has made it a goal to pick up a piece of art on every trip that we take, so we decided to opt for a visit at Semar Kuning Artist Cooperative.  This place is huge with many different halls with different styles of paintings, ranging from modern to traditional.  We picked up a traditional painting of an Indonesian dragon that cost about $100 (there is also room to bargain at these places).  We were both quite pleased about this purchase and excited to hang it up in our home.

We headed straight over to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary before heading over to lunch.  We learned that one of the reasons that the forest was built was to keep the monkeys safe after the area was industrialized.  It was to prevent the monkeys from being harmed when roaming around Ubud looking for food – this way food is brought to them daily and they are left to roam free as they would in the wild.  When visiting, our guide did warn us not to look the monkeys directly in the eyes as to not show aggression – it was also interesting to see how familiar all of the guides were with the monkeys, such as knowing that they love papaya leaves and will go through your bags looking for food.

For lunch, our guide dropped us off at Bebek Teba Sari Restaurant for about an hour.  This restaurant was full of other tourists and was quite busy when we arrived.  We did have to wait about 20 minutes before our food arrived, however we didn’t mind since our day was very busy so it allowed us time to relax and unwind.  We were seated at the top level of the restaurant, which is set up almost like a tree house.  We got to see the great views of the farm while we enjoyed our lunch.

After lunch, we headed over to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace.  It was actually very serene to see all of the greenery and flowers grown on the premises.  There was also lots of tourist activities, such as biking or swinging over the rice terrace.  Even though there were lots of other tourists, this place is huge with lots of paths that you can walk along.  It was a great ending to the packed day that we had.  After this, we headed back to our hotel where our day trip to Ubud ended.

After our day trip to Ubud, we decided to walk over to Warung Nusantara for dinner.  Since we had an extravagant meal the night before, we were looking for a local restaurant with simple food that showcased what Bali had to offer.  Most of the food here was fried, and it went really well with their hot sauce.  The food was delicious, cheap and fast.  It was a great way to end the day.

TheSavvyPantry_Bali3Days_Title_Day3-BeachwalkMall

This was our last day in Bali.  We had a return flight at 7:30 PM to Singapore, so we really only had a half day.  We decided to head over the Kuta beach again after breakfast to soak up the last bit of Bali before leaving.  After the beach, we headed over to the Beach Walk Shopping Mall for some well-deserved AC and exploring.  This mall is huge and had lots of floors, with the top floor dedicated to food.

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We spent about an hour here before heading over to Fat Chow for a late lunch.  We had actually come here twice the day before to try to get a table for lunch and dinner but they were always packed.  Because we came here at an odd time (around 2 PM), we didn’t have to wait at all.  The food was so delicious and if we had more time here, I definitely would have visited again.  I loved their fried shallot condiments so much that I brought back 3 jars for myself and my sister to enjoy.

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After lunch, we headed back to our hotel where we had each booked a massage.  The only thing I regret is not getting more massages while visiting South East Asia since we had done a lot of walking and would have benefited from more relaxation.  After our massages, we headed over to the airport for our final trip to Singapore.