Friday, 24 February 2017

Oat Bliss Balls: Two Simple Recipes

I love having little snack balls on hand. I usually bring them to work along with some fresh fruit for when that afternoon slump hits (it's always somewhere between 14-15 pm for me).

The base ingredients in these "bliss balls" are rolled oats and dates. Simple, right? The ball in the top picture is flavoured with cinnamon and rosehip, and the green-ish one is flavoured with matcha green tea and liquorice. A nice change from my usual chocolate balls which I make almost every week or so (recipe here and here).

And how nice is it that it's the weekend soon? After a bit too much sickness lately I certainly don't feel as energetic as I'd like to, so I'm hoping for quite a restful weekend at home. Maybe some baking would be nice. I'm definitely more of a cook than baker, which is why most of my baking recipes just involves some mixing in the food processor. But now I feel like some actual baked cookies would be nice, maybe definitely with some chocolate involved. What's your favourite cookie recipes (prefereably healthy-ish)? Please share!

I wish you a nice weekend ♥

Oat Bliss Balls with Cinnamon & Rosehip 

1 cup (2 dl) rolled oats
1/2 cup (1 dl) almonds or sweet apricot kernels
10 big fresh and juicy dates
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp rosehip powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp coconut oil

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until a sticky dough forms. Roll into balls. Keep in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy!

Oat Bliss Balls with Matcha & Liquorice

1 cup (2 dl) rolled oats
1/2 cup (1 dl) cashews
10 big fresh and juicy dates
2 tsp matcha green tea powder
1-2 tsp raw liquorice powder
1 tsp coconut oil
(1 tsp maca powder, optional)
Small pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until a sticky dough forms. Roll into balls. Keep in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy!

P.S. Also try crumbling 1-2 balls on your breakfast bowl, it's soooo good!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Creamy Green Soup

Warm soup. Sometimes there's nothing better on cold days. I've been eating a lot of soup lately and loving it.

This is probably the simplest and laziest soup in all history of the internet, but it's surprisingly delicious. I used frozen veggies here for convenience, but fresh would also work of course. Sometimes you just need to make life super simple, you know?

The secret to the creaminess of this soup is tahini. I use tahini in everything from dressings to pasta sauces and sweet treats, but here it works especially well to make the soup super nice and creamy. Also, what makes soup even better is to serve it with some avocado toast. Here I mashed some avocado on a freshly baked teff bread. No recipe for the bread though because it fell apart and was kind of raw inside, but it tasted really nice when toasted at least.

Sorry for the lack of measurements in this "recipe". I didn't mean to share this soup on the blog and therefore didn't measure any of the ingredients. But then the soup turned out too good not to share :) Basically just fill a really big pot with frozen veggies, I used A LOT to get lots of leftover soup for lunch boxes. Also make sure to use lots of spices, as a bland soup is simply boring.

I'm fighting a massive cold right now. And yesterday I fell with my bike when trying to cycle to work on icy streets, and then spent a few hours in the ER because of an injured wrist. So this afternoon is all about rest for me, with books and tea and kisses from my love ♥.

Have a nice weekend!

Creamy Green Soup

(My no-recipe recipe)

Frozen spinach
Frozen broccoli
Frozen green peas
Herbal salt (Herbamare)
Black pepper
Paprika powder
Ground ginger

Cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Then add:
Tahini (several spoonfuls for a big saucepan of veggies)
Lemon juice

Blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Enjoy!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

How To Go Plant-Based

Plants are awesome and healthy, right? And tasty too! I think that it's a complete myth that plant foods taste bland compared to animal foods like meat and fish. And think of all the colours in plant foods! Nothing compares to eating the rainbow every day.

So what is a plant-based diet?
It's simply a diet of plants. Vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), nuts and seeds.

Then it's a matter of definitions. Some might call a diet plant-based when the bulk of the calories comes from plant foods, but the person eats small amounts of meat, dairy and/or eggs sometimes.

Some others may call a diet plant-based only if it's totally vegan, which means that it excludes all meat, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy. Then others may say that a plant-based diet is vegan but that it also excludes all processed foods. It's mainly based upon fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds etc in their whole form. So no (or very little) processed foods like soy sausages, soy milk, vegan candies and cookies, pre-made dishes, vegan fast food etc.

The important message, though, is to simply eat more plants!

Why eat a plant-based diet?
There's so much evidence on all the health advantages of eating a plant-based diet instead of a diet rich in animal products. From everything to preventing cancer to treating and/or preventing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and constipation, a plant-based diet is the way to go for a long and healthy life.

I eat a plant-based vegan diet for three main reasons:
  • My health (see above).
  • The environment. Animal agriculture is literally destroying our beautiful planet. The meat and diary industry is far more responsible for greenhouse gas emissions than all the transportation means in the world. Yes, that's all the cars, buses, trains and planes combined! Watch the documentary Cowspiracy for more info on this.
  • The animals. Their suffering is totally unnecessary and it breaks my heart. Watch the documentary Earthlings
  • ... And an extra fourth reason: Because it's so delicious! I'm so so happy that I don't "have to" eat meat, fish or chicken and I never ever crave them anymore.

How to go plant-based?
  • Begin with making small changes instead of trying out elaborate recipes with tons of ingredients you've never heard of. For example, try making pasta bolognese with lentils instead of ground meat. Or make a stew with chickpeas instead of meat. Replace hamburgers with veggie burgers.
  • Explore what works for you. Maybe trying out making lots of new stuff like lentil soup, hummus, quinoa, white bean stew etc. Or maybe buying packaged meat substitutes like veggie burgers or vegan sausages works better for you. There are no rules.
  • Stock your kitchen with lots of plant foods (see my tips here) and try cooking in bulk. Make big pots of veggie stew and soup, big salads or maybe cook lots of quinoa and lentils and eat them with lunch or dinner for a few days.
  • For a simple start, when you're planning lunch or dinner think something like this:
    • A carb like quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, whole grain bread, brown rice etc.
    • A protein source like lentils, beans, chickpeas, veggie burgers or tofu.
    • Lots of veggies. Preferably at least a couple of different kinds. Mix it up with raw and cooked.
    • A small amount of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, tahini etc.
  • I also think that breakfast is easier to begin with than lunch or dinner. Many breakfast foods are plant-based to begin with (think oatmeal, cereal, bread, fruit smoothies etc) or are easy to make plant-based. Switch dairy milk to a plant-based option like oat milk, soy milk, almond milk or hemp milk. Try oat or soy yoghurt with granola. Make a creamy smoothie or milkshake with oat milk. Try toasted (preferably whole grain) bread with hummus, mashed avocado or nut butter. Tofu scramble is a great substitute for scrambled eggs.
  • Snacks are also fairly easy to make vegan. Fruit, nuts, granola bars or raw bars, smoothies, rice cakes with hummus, avocado toast, popcorn, trail mix... 
  • Eat more. Yes, really! Since most plant foods are big in volume but quite low in calories you might find that you'll need to increase portion sizes and/or eat more often to feel satisfied and avoid weight loss (if that's not desired, of course).
  • Season your food well. Use lots of spices, herbs, tamari, tahini, herbal salt etc. Make delicious sauces and dressings.
  • If you're not used to fibre rich foods like lots of veggies, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains etc, then you'll probably need to start slow or else your bowels may get, ehm, upset the first few weeks. 
  • Explore! Buy a fruit or veggie you've never tried before.
  • Bake some vegan cookies, there are tons of recipes online. Or try my healthy chocolate energy balls. And make ice-cream from frozen bananas! Try this chocolate cookie dough banana ice cream.
  • Eat foods you enjoy. This seems pretty obvious, but I feel that it's quite common that people force down some broccoli, kale or other food just because it's healthy. There are so many other things to eat.
  • Find out what works best for you. Going from a "standard" diet to a vegan diet from one day to the next might work for some, but I find that it's easier to go slowly. Start eating more plants whilst also phasing out meat, dairy and eggs for a few weeks, months or even years. I was a vegetarian (I ate dairy and eggs but no meat) for a couple of years before finally quitting animal products all together, which really worked for me.
  • Stay inspired. Here are some of my tips for books, documentaries and blogs.
  • Explore vegan restaurant if those are available in your area.
  • Supplement. If you're eating a strict vegan or almost vegan diet you have to take at least a vitamin B12 supplement and maybe some more.
  • And lastly, remember that you won't die of protein deficiency :) You WILL get the "But where do you get your protein?" question. From plants. Simple as that.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Chili with Cacao

Happy Saturday!

What could possibly be more perfect than a warming stew on a cold winter's day? This chili is very flavourful and it's also quite spicy, which is perfect for warming up your entire body from the inside out after spending some time outdoors in the cold. Even though the list of ingredients looks pretty long this chili is extremely easy to make.

Tomato, different beans, bell pepper, chili pepper, corn, sweet potato, zucchini... So many awesome flavours and colours! The star ingredient, though, is cacao. This might sound odd to use in cooking, but the chili won't taste like chocolate (promise!). Instead the cacao simply gives the chili some depth in flavour which is totally irresistible. I used raw cacao powder here, but regular cocoa powder would work just as great.

I served my chili with some freshly baked spelt bread. So good!

After a few slightly rough weeks my only plans for today is to rest, read, drink massive amounts of tea, do a face mask, eat nourishing foods and maybe do some light exercise. Self-care, you know ♥. 

Chili with Cacao

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
2 gloves of garlic, finely grated
1 red chili, finely chopped (use the seeds!)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp spicy paprika powder
1/5 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried oregano

4 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato passata
2 cups (4 1/2 dl) water

4 big fistfuls of chopped kale (stem removed)
1 tsp salt
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 cup (2 dl) sweet corn
3 tsp cacao or cocoa powder

1. Heat the oil in a big saucepan. Sauté the garlic, chili and spices for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the carrots, bell peppers, zucchini and sweet potato and sauté for a couple of minutes more.
3. Add the cans of tomatoes and the water. Bring to the boil and let it cook on a low heat under a lid for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
4. Add all the rest of the ingredients and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Raspberry & Liquorice Smoothie Bowl


I can never get enough of smoothie bowls. The best breakfast ever invented! I usually love my green smoothies, but right now I'm on a raspberry kick. And I simply adore the beautiful pink colour ♥.

Raspberries and liquorice is such a great combo. Here I used frozen raspberries, liquorice powder, banana, lemon juice and some plant milk (I used oat). Oh and some hulled hemp seeds which makes smoothies so much creamier. Also, the more frozen fruit the creamier the smoothie. So for an even creamier smoothie bowl use a frozen banana in addition to the frozen raspberries.

I topped my smoothie bowl with some creamy almond butter, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds. Yum! Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids. Some of my other favourite sources of omega 3s are chia seeds (also great in smoothies!), walnuts and flax seed oil.

Enjoy this smoothie with a huge cup of tea or coffee and have a great day!

Raspberry & Liquorice Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 banana
1 1/2-2 cups (4 dl) frozen raspberries
1 cup (2 dl) plant milk
1-2 tsp raw liquorice powder

Blend until smooth. Top with seeds, nuts, dried fruit, nut butter, granola etc.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Matcha Latte with Vanilla, Maca & Lacuma

Matcha latte. Such a delicious way to drink tea! Matcha is powdered green tea (the entire leaf) and is full of antioxidants. I also LOVE the taste and the beautiful green colour.

This version of matcha latte is very gently sweetened with lacuma powder, which means that the grassy taste of matcha is still there. If you want the latte sweeter, or if you don't have any lacuma powder, then simply add your favourite sugar or sweetener. Just don't use a sweetener dark in colour, like date syrup or coconut sugar, as they might give the latte an unpleasant colour.

I also added maca to this, which is a powdered root grown in South America. Maca is very rich in many vitamins and minerals and is said to boost stamina and, ehm, libodo.

... And, before we go. I realise that lacuma and maca aren't something most people have laying around the house. Then  simply leave them out! No need to buy expensive "super-foods" if you don't want to :) I think that the base of a healthy plant-based diet, or any diet for that matter, always should be based upon simple ingredients from the grocery store like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. The powders and super-foods are for fun, for playing, for that extra oomph.

Have a great week!

Matcha Latte with Vanilla, Maca & Lacuma

Serves 1

1 tsp matcha green tea powder
1/2 tsp maca powder
1 tsp lacuma powder
1/5 tsp vanilla powder
1 cup (2 dl) plant milk (I used oat)

1. Start with whisking the powders with a small splash of the milk with a milk frother (do this directly in the tea cup).
2. Warm the rest of the milk on the stove until just boiling. Then whisk the milk until frothy.
3. Add the frothy milk to the cup while gently whisking or stirring. Enjoy!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Homemade Kombucha

As I mentioned here I'm not drinking alcohol during 2017. So far so good! I thought I would miss that relaxing glass of red wine on Friday nights, but actually I don't. Well, there have only been two Fridays since New Year's Eve :) Anyway, I think that kombucha is the perfect drink to sip on instead of wine. I like to pour my kombucha into a wine glass and maybe also add some frozen raspberries to make it more "special".

Blood orange kombucha with frozen raspberries
I used to buy small bottles of kombucha which are crazy expensive here in Sweden. But now for the last few months I've made my own after receiving a SCOBY (more on that below!) from a friend. When I first began brewing my own I thought it would be extremely complicated and time-consuming, but it's actually the opposite. It's so simple once you get the hang of it.

So what is kombucha?
It's a fermented tea! Doesn't sound that delicious? It is! It's fizzy like a soda but much less sweet and more acidic. More "grown-up" in taste.

Since it's fermented it contains live bacteria/probiotics which are super great for your gut. It has many other health benefits, but I actually mostly drink it because it's so delicious. If you like acidic and vinegar-y tastes, you'll love kombucha.

And what is a SCOBY??
SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It's the thing that makes it all happen (the fermentation process, that is) and as you see it's a combination of both bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY looks like a disgusting slimy little pancake but without it, no kombucha.

A SCOBY can be bought online or in some health-food shops. The simplest way, though, is to get one from a kombucha brewing friend, as you get an extra SCOBY in every brew.

I loosely follow Sarah Britton's excellent instructions on her blog My New Roots (see her post here). I highly suggest you check out her guide before starting.

I mainly do like this:
  1. Brew about 1 litre (4 1/4 cup) of super strong tea (I most often use green gunpowder tea). I probably use about 2 tbsp loose tea. Let it brew for at least 15-20 minutes.
  2. Pour the tea into a super big (3 litre/12-13 cups) glass jar. Add about 1 cup (2 dl) organic cane sugar* and stir until dissolved.
  3. Fill the rest of the glass jar with cold water until almost full. Make sure that the tea is cooled down before continuing as the SCOBY will die if added to hot/warm tea.
  4. Add the SCOBY and about 1-1 1/4 cup (2-3 dl) pre-made kombucha (store-bought or from your last brew).
  5. Cover the glass jar with a tea towel secured with a rubber band.
  6. I usually let the tea ferment in room temperature for 10 days or until it tastes acidic and not sweet. If you want it less acidic, let it ferment for a shorter time.
  7. Now it's time for the second fermentation to make the kombucha fizzy! Remove the SCOBY and about 1-1 1/4 cup (2-3 dl) kombucha to be used in your next brew. You should have two SCOBYs by now, the "mother" and the new "baby". Use one of them in your next brew and give the other away,
  8. Pour the kombucha into bottles through a sieve with the help of a funnel. Add about 2/3-1 cup (1,5-2 dl) of fruit juice in every 1 litre bottle. My favourites so far are blood orange juice and grape juice. I also like to add some grated fresh ginger and a squeeze of lemon.
  9. Seal the bottles and put them in room temperature for about 2-3 days or until fizzy. Everyday during this time the lid has to be opened to release some pressure or the bottle might explode.
  10. Done! Store in the fridge. Enjoy!

*That much sugar!? I hear you say. Yes, don't panic. The sugar is needed for a fermentation to take place. It's food for the SCOBY and there won't be any sugar left in the finished kombucha if you let it ferment long enough.