TAIMNE TEISIPÄEV TO THE RESCUE!

I don't usually cook by recipes. It seems too restricting and boring so I tend to improvise every time I cook and add the correct amount of ingredients according to my taste alone. Naturally I read recipes for inspiration - and sometimes even follow them - but then rarely step by step. Today however was the kind of evening where I had little time to cook, let alone improvise - but really wanted to do something special. So I opened Taimne Teisipäev's website and tried a recipe that had caught my attention long ago. 

Dan Dan noodles! And oh my world, they were delicious! Not so good for my waistline, but oh well... dieting can always wait for tomorrow! You can find the recipe here. I topped the noodles with some sesame seeds - and chili pepper to make it a bit spicier. The result was amazing!

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Taimne Teisipäev's (Veggie Tuesday) recipes are always keeping the person cooking in mind. We know that people usually don't have too much time to cook but still want the dish to be as delicious and nutritious as possible. That's why Taimne Teisipäev's recipes are usually easy, quick, and consisting of relatively cheap and readily available ingredients - and at the same time highly nutritious and healthy. I have almost always at least half of the ingredients - like chickpeas, beans, and lentils - stored in my cupboard. I'm so proud that our website is now up and running and it's easier than ever to access delicious recipes and useful food tips. 

Another cool thing about Veggie Tuesday's website is the map. On it you can find all the restaurants that have joined our campaign - all over Estonia! So when you happen to be in Estonia and want to have delicious plant-based food, just open the map and see what's  nearby! Especially during lunch on Tuesdays! 

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So go check it out - either try to cook it yourself or find a place nearby - just make sure to have something new and delicious! 

 

LIFE HAPPENS

Do you know the feeling when you are so busy that you forget to message a really close friend? Then some time goes by, and any message you could write isn't relevant enough - namely, you have so much to talk about that you don't know where to start and of course you don't have enough time to write it all at once... Then even more time goes by and eventually you are just so embarrassed and can't find the right words how to start...

This is me, right now. 

Life has gotten in my way lately - or I have gotten in the way of my life. I’m finally getting a grip at my new job - only it isn't that new anymore. For the past 3 months I have been working as the project manager of Taimne Teisipäev (Veggie Tuesday), our own little reducitarian campaign in Estonia - our version of Meatless Monday.

We ask restaurants all over the country to have at least one plant-based meal in their menu on Tuesdays, so that people who want to try living healthy a day a time can soon do it everywhere. We also encourage people to try new plant-based recipes by publishing a new recipe every Tuesday. I think I might have the best job ever - promoting plant based food and talking about a topic that I'm so passionate about.

Having a full time job and at the same time being a full time mom, going to the gym... needless to say that my blog has taken a bit of a back-burner.

Of course I'm still cooking every day and also trying to post on Instagram as often as I can - I just haven't had the time to blog. But now - feeling like I finally have my s*it together - I really wan't to correct that mistake and blog more often. I have so many things I want to share, and recipes you guys have asked!

You know... Life happens - I guess there is no point in beating myself up. As much as I try to get everything done 100% one person just can't do it all. And it's okay. It's okay to take time, concentrate a bit and then get back on track. 

I must say that cooking is still an everyday passion of mine. Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed I cook a really nice dish. My kitchen is my sanctuary and food is my medicine. And I really want you guys to get to be a part of this passion as well.

 Today's dinner: A homemade burger with coleslaw, black bean patty, bbq mushrooms and little oregano potato wedges on the side- made with the help of my dear hubby.

Today's dinner: A homemade burger with coleslaw, black bean patty, bbq mushrooms and little oregano potato wedges on the side- made with the help of my dear hubby.


*This post is also a shout out to a really dear friend Rebekah who has endured my vanishing so gracefully - I'm so sorry! Love you!

VEGAN CAPITAL OF EUROPE: BERLIN

Over April's last weekend I was so blessed to visit Berlin for the first time. I went there for a plant-based food conference "50by40 Summit", held by ProVeg - an international food awareness organisation. "50by40" is a project initiated by ProVeg which strives to reduce the production of animal products internationally by 50% by the year 2040. I was so blessed to meet some of the most amazing plant-based food advocates around the world and learn from their experiences.

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Of course we also checked out some of the vegan restaurants nearby, and I must say that Berlin really is a vegan paradise. There is a vegan restaurant or cafe almost on every corner. Not to mention the wonderful vegan choices in the local supermarkets - which are surprisingly several times cheaper than in Estonia. I wanted to share some of those places that I had the chance to visit. 

Let it be - vegan creperie, burger and bar

This hip little place in Neukölln area absolutely won my heart. The menu was quite impressive: having sweet and savory crepes, different burgers, and even a hearty Mac&Cheese! The prices were reasonable and the portions very generous. After ordering a burger AND potato wedges I was so surprised at the amount of food I received. But it was so delicious I just had to eat it all. I loved that the owner himself welcomed us at the booth and I could see that he had real passion for his work.  

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1990 vegan living

1990 vegan living is an Asian restaurant with a Vietnamese touch. I had a curry with rice there for a quick lunch and I was so happy to eat those familiar tastes. They have a good bowl system there, so I recommend you to visit this place with a friend or even a bigger group. That way you can order many different little bowls and taste different things. As I said, unfortunately I was in a hurry and just took a simple curry with rice - but it was so good! 

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YoYo Foodworld

Going out with a group of friends? Can't decide whether to go get pizza, burger, or wraps? A vegan roast perhaps? This place has it all! Vegan fast food restaurant with amazingly low prices. But I personally recommend the pizzas there. Amazing authentic Italian style oven pizzas - 30cm pizza for only 6,50€. You just have to try it!

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Of course after spending all my money on the delicious vegan food out there, I had to try the student special as well. A delicious cherry beer and the only instant noodles I could find on the corner store on Sunday. And yes, ALL the supermarkets were closed on Sunday! Still can't wrap my head around that.

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Meeting so many like minded people at the same place, over a hundred animal welfare and plant based food advocates from at ound the world, was really eye opening. Just seeing how many professionals are dedicating their time and effort for creating a better planet for ourselves, our children, and of course the animals. It really made me feel that anything is possible. Even the vegan world. 

Many small people, who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the world.
— East Side Gallery, Berlin, 1990
 *I hope that someday the wall between vegans and meat eaters is torn down as well.

*I hope that someday the wall between vegans and meat eaters is torn down as well.

***As many of you know from my social media accounts, the reason for the recent travelling has been my new job. I'm so happy and excited to tell you more about that in the next blog post! 

EGGLESS EASTER

Happy holidays! Today’s Easter, Good Friday or Great Friday- as we call it in Estonia. Besides having a day off us Estonians will use the opportunity to celebrate it with a tasty family dinner. So will we, but without the main hero- eggs.  

Even as a big egg lover I didn't understand why it's necessary to make tons and tons of hard boiled eggs which would stand on the table for a week after being coloured and eventually go to waste. Because no one can ever eat as much eggs (especially hard boiled) that are being used for colouring and decorating our Easter table. 

Of course it's important to keep traditions alive. But we really need to understand where the Easter tradition comes form. Eventually it's a Christian holiday commemorating the death of Jesus Christ. Not coming from a religious family I didn't know the real reason of celebrating Easter in my childhood. In our family it was just known as a celebration of spring and the exchange of the seasons. And of course a reason to have a big party and make delicious meals amongst loved ones. I truly believe that's the case in most of Estonian families.

Today there's so many opportunities to celebrate an animal friendly Easter. There are so many decorations on the market right now. Including Easter eggs made from chocolate, wood, foam plastic etc. In my opinion it's just a one time purchase and you can use the same decorations year after year. Minus the chocolate one's of course. If you're vegan you can even get Easter bunnies made from dark chocolate from the supermarket. And there is also so many ways to replace eggs on your dinner table. 

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I decorated our Easter table with Vegan chickpea tuna on toast instead of stuffed eggs. I must say that after adding mustard and seasoning the taste and texture is pretty similar. The recipe is really quick and easy. And what’s most important..it tastes amazing!

I wrote on this topic to make you think a little bit more before boiling 20 eggs for Easter. Of course in a perfect world we would celebrate the coming of spring without the expense of other sentient beings. But even if your not vegan, and really want to celebrate Easter with some real eggs there are still ways you can contribute to the well being of chickens. One thing you can do in the behalf of the chickens is to buy free range eggs. In Estonia we have a great stamp system you can follow. From the stamp on the egg you can see how the chicken is being kept and from which country does the egg come from. Here’s the guide in estonian.

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This guide is made by a wonderful Estonian farm animal protection organization Nähtamatud loomad. Today I’m especially grateful for the work they do for the behalf of the animals. 

Our little family will celebrate today with a tasty dinner and spending time outside noticing little signs of the coming spring. Of course we will draw chickens, eggs and bunnies but in a whole different context. 

HUNDRED DOLLAR BURGER - THE MCVEGAN CONTROVERSY

I have never been fond of going to the extremes - there was a time when I honestly believed that going completely plant-based itself is really extreme. Especially being vegan - something that seems so impossible to reach for people. Never would I have ever imagined I would be here today spreading the vegan message. 

You will never know just how easy it is to be plant based until you try it. Of course it's important to concentrate on plant based whole foods, but for all of you there transitioning to a healthier, compassionate lifestyle - there are substitutions for almost everything! Even in Estonia.

The choice of vegan cheese, vegan ham, plant based milk, (n)ice-creams and plant yogurts is impressive! Going vegan doesn't mean you have to give up your favourite dishes - you'll just have a plant based substitute for almost everything! Like I said - it's better to reduce the amount of processed foods in your menu but already choosing plant based processed foods over animal products is a big step for the betterment of your health and our planet. 

Like I said I really don't like to go to the extremes. Being vegan really isn't a competition who can be more vegan. If we choose the all or nothing attitude it really doesn't do any good for ourselves nor the animals. Even though I really admire people who manage to be totally plant based and only eat healthy whole foods - I do root for the people who are vegan but slip from time to time - or those who eat vegan junk food. To err is only human!

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Yep. This post really was inspired by the fact that we went to Helsinki for lunch yesterday with my husband. A day cruise just to get a McVegan in Finland. And it was totally worth it! Don't get me wrong - the vegan gourmet burgers we have at home - BurgerBox or VegMachine - are unquestionably better but the fact that you can get a vegan burger at McDonald's... for me is a statement itself.

We also had a stroll through the local supermarkets and the vegan choice there was amazing! Although the choice in Estonia is also really good, I sensed some kind of freedom there. The freedom to be vegan without being judged. The freedom to go to any little store and you will have a decent amount of vegan options there.

 Some vegan options from Helsinki supermarkets: the ice-cream alone is worth going back!

Some vegan options from Helsinki supermarkets: the ice-cream alone is worth going back!

So, by no means am I promoting McDonald's nor fast food in general - my blog is about healthy plant based whole foods. But I like to see the bigger picture. I'm really happy that a global company is helping to normalise veganism. People who are transitioning to a vegan diet don't have to feel like they are giving up everything familiar overnight. Because at the end of the day, we don't live in a perfect world - if we would I wouldn't even have the need to write this post promoting healthy plant based lifestyle. There would be no fast food restaurants and everybody in the world would be vegan. 

Eating in McDonald's once in a blue moon doesn't make you less healthy - same as eating some animal products (by accident) doesn't automatically make you less vegan. There can be all kinds of situations where there isn't possible to be 100% vegan. Of course it's important to try... but there is no need to be beaten up about it when it doesn't always work.

We all are on our own health journey and everybody has their own goals and difficulties. If a few years ago my goal was to be totally plant based, then today I try to eat as little processed foods as I can and concentrate on nutritious whole foods. Just as going vegan took time, it takes time to change one's habits and cravings for processed foods. And even if you feel you don't want to give up processed foods it's also fine! Every step or colour of the plant based spectrum is fine, as long as you are taking care of your health and not harming others.

After posting this McDonald's picture in my local Facebook vegan group I automatically had people saying how McDonald's isn't healthy for you - vegan or not vegan. Of course it isn't! But the bottom line is that when I choose to eat junk food once in a while I have options. Just as everybody else has. 

LIFEBASEDFOODS AND OLLA SPRING GIVEAWAY

Since the last giveaway was so popular and I was so sad to pick only two winners, we have decided with OLLA ehe to have a spring giveaway for you guys!

You will have exactly one week to enter the giveaway and already next week - on Good Friday - two lucky followers will get a beautiful OLLA bracelet.

This time we will give the OLLA I ❤ Estonia bracelet on Lifebasedfoods Facebook account and a beautiful rose gold 100% vegan bracelet on Lifebasedfoods Instagram account. 

The weather is getting warmer bit by bit every day and soon it will be time to find our dresses and jewellery. And what better way to start this spring with your own OLLA ehe bracelet!

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OLLA is a beautiful little Estonian company that creates bracelets with inspirational quotes and messages. And I'm so happy to have the privilege to share those lovely bracelets with you guys! 

For more information on how to participate visit Lifebasedfoods Facebook or Instagram page! Or both!

MY FAVOURITE VEGAN RESTAURANTS

 Delicious raw vegan wrap at Toormoor.

Delicious raw vegan wrap at Toormoor.

Being a passionate home cook myself I still love to go out to eat once in a while. To experience new flavours, get some inspiration, and spend quality time with my loved ones. I'm not a big fan of takeout. For me enjoying the restaurant's atmosphere and eating food on proper tableware fresh from the kitchen is a big part of the experience. Maybe it's because I really love to cook myself that I have really high standards for eating out. And since I really do spend a lot of time in my kitchen it's really good to get out of there once in a while.

I feel so happy and blessed to live in Tallinn - holy city for vegans - the place with endless opportunities. Today almost every self-respectful restaurant and cafe in Tallinn has some kind of vegan option. You can get literally everything in vegan version - vegan junk food like pizzas with vegan cheese, burgers, pastries... we even have a little raw vegan cafe called Toormoor in the new hip Balti Jaam Market. Of course the situation can be better because there still are places that don't even offer soy milk as an option with coffee, but the general picture is really good compared to other Estonian cities. And I think that every little vegan cafe - or even restaurants - that care enough to put vegan options on their menu should be praised. 

Even though I really love Asian food and one of my favourite places to get vegan sushi or don-bowls is Sushi plaza, I must say that my all time favourite full vegan restaurant is Vegan V in the beautiful UNESCO World heritage Old Town. Of course it's the only vegan restaurant that truly lives up to restaurant standards. Many other places may also have amazing food, but this is the place I recommend going if you truly search for a restaurant experience! Even the restaurant itself is a sight to see. But be sure to book a table ahead, because every time I have gone there it's been packed! 

 This is just how happy good vegan food makes me! - Vegan V

This is just how happy good vegan food makes me! - Vegan V

We have had a few family birthdays, few dates, a couple of get-together's and I'm dying to still go back! The food there really is amazing. Lately I went there for a Women's Day lunch and had this beautiful Caesar's salad. Being a former Caesar's salad addict I truly must say that this is the best I've ever had (Vegan V recently wanted to remove it from the menu, but I hope this will not come to pass)

 Worlds greatest Caesar's salad in Vegan V

Worlds greatest Caesar's salad in Vegan V

The strong second place goes to Noodle Box in Telliskivi. It's the most authentic South-Eastern Asian food I have ever tasted. If you're looking for strong spices and new flavours then this is the place to go! The food is ridiculously good and priced very well. I must admit, since it's so affordable we like to go there quite often - but that's only a good thing! Places like Noodle Box help to dispel the myth that vegan food has to be something expensive and simply consist of a bunch of salad. The interior is of course characteristic of the Telliskivi Creative City - bare and functional if I may say so!

 Noodle Box in Telliskivi - excellent after a night out

Noodle Box in Telliskivi - excellent after a night out

Like I said there are so many amazing vegan restaurants, or restaurants that have vegan options in Tallinn. So it was really hard not to mention them all in one post! I would love to hear some feedback from you guys: Which one is your favourite restaurant and would you like me to make more of those restaurant posts?

If any of the aforementioned restaurants would like to contact me for further reviews/food tastings then please use the business email form under Contact

CLASSIC ESTONIAN POTATO SALAD VEGAN VERSION

This classic potato salad recipe is perfect for the weekend or a family get-together. We tend to make it every time we have a family birthday or holiday. Since Estonians really love potato in all forms, potato salad is a certain must have on the party table. A little known fact is that this popular potato salad in Estonia is originally from Russia - called the Olivier salad or more commonly Russian salad. 

Growing up I really mastered making the traditional Estonian potato salad. I remember myself chopping the ingredients sometimes into the early morning hours if there was some bigger event coming the next day. But every time it really was worth it. After going vegan this was the one dish that I missed the most, so I had to come up with a vegan version of it. And once again I proved to myself that there isn't anything you will miss out on when becoming a vegan. Almost everything can be veganised, and often times the end result may be even better than the original dish!

Down below I have written down two options for the salad. Some people tend not to like canned peas, so there is no need to add them. But when you really want to try the Estonian version I suggest to try it with the peas and some vegan sausage. 

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CLASSIC ESTONIAN POTATO SALAD VEGANISED

  • 1.5kg potatoes, boiled with skin until soft
  • 1 jar of your favourite pickles
  • 1 long cucumber
  • about 3 boiled carrots chopped finely (or if in a hurry use salad carrot sold boiled and chopped)
  • salt and dill
  • Your favourite vegan mayo for dressing. I usually use "Taimetoitlaste kaste" and "Alpro sojakoor" together. So I basically just mix the vegan mayo together with the vegan cream. 
  • If you want to make the real traditional version add a jar of canned green salad peas and 250g of vegan ham or sausage
  1. Dice all the ingredients as small as you can into one bowl
  2. Add salt and some dill.
  3. Add the vegan mayo dressing, mix very well and let set before eating (up to 4 hours)

Although there are so many jokes out there in the vegan community how veganism ruins family dinners, it really shouldn't be this way. Even when your family isn't supportive in the beginning, don't try to oppose them and embrace the fact that they just don't have adequate knowledge on veganism. Love creates love - and the perfect way to help them understand the nature of veganism is to be a good example yourself.

Prepare them some delicious vegan dinner or show them some documentaries if they're interested. The key is to be patient and not to drown them in information, but at the same time you should be prepared to answer some of the basic questions when need be. It's really important to be informed about veganism and proper nutrition before you go defending veganism. So nobody can get you blindsided or make you feel stupid. 

But in my opinion one of the best ways to maintain loving family dinners is to veganise your family favourites and let them see that there really isn't anything you will be giving up being vegan, quite the opposite - there is only more to gain. 

Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable
— Gary L. Francione

TO ALL THE WOMEN OUT THERE

Today's post is for all the gorgeous women out there!

Lately I have been pondering about about my role in the society. Although gender equality issues have been a hot topic for the past few years in Estonia, I personally feel like the social discussion has reached the other side of the spectrum. There is more and more talk about getting young moms back to the labour market as soon as possible, and that fathers should stay at home with the baby instead. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing opportunity and fathers should be as involved in raising a child as mothers are, but encouraging women to choose a career over bonding with their newborn children is not right. The system could instead be used to stay at home with the whole family - at least for the first few months. The first few years - especially the first few months - of a baby's life are crucial for developing a loving bond between the parents and the baby. 

Women are superhuman. They can do it all. And I admire working moms. But today's social discussion is talking about stay at home moms like they're a social burden. It's so sad that often the worth of someone is only measured in numbers. Underestimating the so-called soft values. But at the end of the day raising healthy, compassionate and considerate human beings is the biggest gift women are giving to the society. It's something that can't be measured. 

Of course this is only one issue, but I chose to touch on the topic because I myself have felt touched by it. My heart aches for all the single moms out there. And I truly respect them and understand that in those cases going back into the job market as soon as possible is inevitable. Nor am I talking about families who are forced to go back to work due to financial issues. My point is that no one should be discriminated or made feel less worthy. Working moms, stay at home moms, single women or women who don't want to have children. We all are worthy, and our worth comes from within, not from some ridiculous social standards. So today I wanted to encourage you to be the woman who you truly want to be. To align with your inner self.

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And I also wanted to share with you a empowering smoothie recipe for two:

GREEN MACA SMOOTHIE

  • 3 bananas
  • fistful of fresh mint
  • 1 tsp Maca powder
  • 2 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 100g spinach
  • 200ml apple juice
  • juice of half a lime
  • a bit of ice

This is the perfect smoothie to start your women's day. A healthy green smoothie that tastes a bit like mojito!  Maca is a root plant that is usually consumed in powder form. Maca is a superfood that contains vitamins B1, B2, C, and E and also calcium, zinc, iron, and a bunch of essential amino acids. The reason I decided to talk about maca powder today is because of its health benefits. Maca powder is said to improve female sexual health by boosting libido, balancing hormones and increasing fertility. And Maca is not only beneficial for women, it is also said to boost men's fertility. So whatever type your relationship may be - make sure to share this smoothie with your partner!

So, start the day with this gorgeous superfood smoothie and take a moment to appreciate yourself.

Happy International Women's Day! 

GORILLA VEGAN ATTIRE

A few weeks ago I had this amazing opportunity to model for an Estonian company called Gorilla. They are launching new T-shirt designs soon on their homepage gorilla.ee  Each shirt is with it's own inspiring vegan message, cruelty free and marked with the Fair Wear Foundation certificate - that stands for a fair production process. While being aware of animal cruelty and standing for the vegan message it's also really important to stand for human rights as well. The wages would be fair and working conditions humane. 

All sentient beings should have at least one right -
the right not to be treated as property
— Gary L.Francione

I am so happy that vegan attire is getting more and more available in Estonia. We don't have to search the Internet anymore and order T-shirts with questionable value, not knowing where they really come from or by whom they're manufactured. Companies like Gorilla have made it really easy to spread the vegan message and I'm more than happy to help them do so.

These new T-shirt designs are dedicated to the fur animals and fighting against fur farming. On them you can find slogans like "Foxes are friends" and "Foxes are for hugging and scarves for getting warm". Trust me they're quite catchy in Estonian. The little foxes are so snugly and adorable!

Oh and the most amazing part of the photo shoot was getting to know these wonderful girls! And the crew behind the camera of course! 

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ORDER YOUR OWN VEGAN T-SHIRTS HERE:

VEGAN CHICKPEA TUNA

Before going vegan I absolutely loved all kinds of seafood. Fish, scallops, shrimps... you name it. So for me taste wasn't an issue - at least then. Fish was also the last thing I gave up when transitioning to a vegan diet. It was rather ironic considering that we actually have fish at home as pets - regardless of that I still miss some familiar flavours - tuna for example.  

I have always loved savoury foods more than sweets. So now when it comes to preparing vegan holiday party dishes, especially snacks, I get to be especially creative.

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VEGAN CHICKPEA TUNA

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas
  • 1 marinated pickle
  • small red bell pepper
  • 1-2 green onions
  • 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of sweet mustard
  • black pepper
  1. rinse the chickpeas and mash them 
  2. chop the pickles, quarter of bell pepper and green onions very finely
  3. Add the soy sauce, mustard and black pepper to taste

I guess you could add a little bit of seaweed to make the taste more fishy. Either way it's a perfect replacement to make a vegan tuna sandwich or as little snacks. For Estonia's 100th birthday celebrations I served it on black bread crisps with a drop of vegan mayo. Used a little bit of blue food colour to make it more festive.

Whilst writing the post I got a craving to eat it again on some toast!

OLLA VEGAN BRACELET GIVEAWAY

EDIT March 9, 2018:
The giveaway has now ended, the winners have been contacted. Please check your messages and tags! Congratulations to both winners, hope you will enjoy your bracelets!

Original as published March 1, 2018:
Today I want to speak about a great little Estonian company called OLLA. OLLA creates beautiful bracelets with inspirational quotes and messages. They have a wide variety of different bracelets and necklaces in colours of silver, gold and rose gold. You may also create your own message and let stamp it on sterling silver, gold brass, aluminium or copper blanks. The selection of messages is changing every month.

Everybody can find something that suits just for them. And the fun part is, that if you don't find the message that fits you truly, you can always custom order a bracelet with your own quote. I really believe that words have power and sometimes we need something or someone to remind us just what we're worth. Or motivate us to be the best version of ourselves. 

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Just as I was writing notes about my today's blog post I came across this quote:

If you worry about every little tiny criticism, you won’t get up in the morning
— Anna Wintour

I found myself thinking of how many times I have let other peoples judgements affect me. Letting myself feel not enough. There are even times that I have tried to cover the fact that I'm vegan. Just to avoid the judgement and comments of other people. Sadly in Estonia there is still a lot of prejudice against the vegan lifestyle. But at some point I realised how important it is to embrace your true self. If you are happy, healthy and comfortable in your own skin, then there is nothing that other people can say to affect you. I also think that it's important to spread the vegan message and having the courage to step up and be proud. Because it's the only way we can make it the norm. People are always afraid of change and new things. So it's very important to try to look at these kind of situations in all perspectives. If someone acts really defensively and tries to insult you, then the real cause could probably be fear. I'm so happy that the amount of vegan attire that's available in Estonia grows day by day, making it so much easier to spread the message.

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That said, I am so excited to announce that me and OLLA decided to have a giveaway together - on Facebook and Instagram! So there's a double chance of winning!

To enter: go and like our Facebook pages (OLLA, LBF) and/or Instagram accounts (OLLA, LBF), you will find the instructions there. The fun part is that everybody all over the world can enter the contest! So don't miss on the opportunity to get this fancy Estonian design bracelet for yourself.

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TRADITIONAL ESTONIAN BEETROOT AND POTATO SALAD

One of our family's favourite classic recipe is the Estonian beetroot and potato salad called Rosolje (ro-sol-ye). I absolutely love beetroot in all shapes and forms. Freshly juiced in the morning, roasted in the oven, or the main component in salads - the options are endless. But I must say that our family's favourite is still the Rosolje salad. 

I must admit that it's very hard for me to write those family recipes down on paper, because I never cook anything exactly according to a recipe. And usually I am used to making salad portions that will last for days. So if you don't have 10 family members eating at the dinner table I suggest you halve the amounts. 

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ESTONIAN BEETROOT AND POTATO SALAD: ROSOLJE

  • 5 little beetroots (boiled until soft)
  • 1,5 kg potatoes (boiled until soft)
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 little white onion
  • 1 jar of marinated pickles
  • 150g of tofu (I used tofu with herbs)
  • about 4tbsp of sweet mustard
  • 400ml of your favourite vegan mayo
  • salt 

Chop all the ingredients finely and mix them together. Season with salt and add mustard to taste. Add the vegan mayo or mix of vegan mayo and some vegan kitchen cream. Let it set a bit. Those traditional salads made with cream are always better when made the night before the party, so the tastes have time to mix. Enjoy with your family!

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ESTONIA 100

I am truly proud to be an Estonian. One in a million. (Yes, there are only 1,3 million Estonians). Yesterday this little Nordic country celebrated its 100th birthday. We spent it with my family around a big dinner. Like every other holiday there are some classic dishes that absolutely have to be on the table and it has been my pleasure to veganise some of the family recipes. 

In my family traditional food has always been really important. To taste familiar flavours among loved ones. Being vegan doesn't always mean you have to give up those family dinner parties because like I always love to say: Almost every dish can be successfully veganised. 

Over the next week I will share some of the recipes with you guys. Starting with the highly requested traditional Rosolje beetroot salad. So stay tuned!

Here are some pictures from yesterday's party. We ended up cooking so much great food that we will enjoy most of it today as well. So, have a great Sunday! Spend it with your family, loved ones, and delicious vegan food. 

CREAMY GARLIC ZOODLES

For my Estonian readers! I am so happy to announce that this recipe also came out on an Estonian green lifestyle page bioneer.ee.

Everybody who knows me knows my love for garlic - and creamy pasta sauce. There is only one thing better than that - the two together. I must admit that pasta dishes have always been my weak spot, but unfortunately sometimes they are just too hard to digest. 

When I discovered zucchini noodles for myself it was like an answer for my prayers. I could finally enjoy the near taste and texture of noodles without feeling bloated. Zoodles are a perfect guilt-free alternative for regular pasta. Although this recipe is definitely more popular during the zucchini season (Summer), it is very important to eat your greens all year round. That's why I wanted to share our family's favourite zoodle recipe with you guys. 

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There are so many vegetable spiralisers available these days. We just recently bought a bigger vegetable spiraliser for ourselves but before that a simple Julienne peeler did the trick. And to be fair, if you have a good knife and a lot of patience you can always cut your zucchini into thin slices by hand - trust me it is worth the effort!

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CREAMY GARLIC ZOODLES (FOR TWO)

  • 2 medium zucchinis (spiralise into thin noodles)
  • 200ml plant based kitchen cream (for example Planti oat kitchen cream)
  • 100g of tofu
  • 150g of asparagus
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • salt, black pepper and fresh lemon for seasoning     
  1. Heat large pan on medium heat with oil. Cook garlic and onion until translucent.
  2. Add chopped tofu and asparagus, season with salt and pepper, stir frequently, cook until softened.
  3. Add cream to the mixture and lemon juice to taste, simmer the sauce a few minutes.
  4.  When the sauce is ready you can add the zoodles to the pan and cook until al dente. Alternatively, you can always cook the zoodles on a different pan and then mix them together. Either way be sure to not overcook them!
  5. Serve immediately and garnish with extra black pepper.

Enjoy this lighter and healthier version of pasta!

TRADITIONAL RECIPE: RUSTIC PEA SOUP

As you may know we live in the Nordic countries. Northern Europe. The spot on mother earth, when the sun rarely shines and winter tends to last at least half of the year, if not more. At least in Estonia it's perfectly normal to see snow even in May. 

Living in the Nordic countries, I have heard more than enough times that veganism isn't possible in a colder climate. This my friends is complete nonsense. Of course it would be delightful to live in a climate where ripe fruits are abundant and available all year round, but then again there is so much more about veganism than fruits. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds-they all have an important place in a vegan diet. And I can say that the Nordic diet is very rich in vegetables, especially in root vegetables. In my opinion you have to be conscious about your nutrition no matter where you live and what your food preferences are. For example almost every Estonian is suffering from vitamin D deficiency- so we should use vitamin D supplements just because sunshine and warm weather is rather an exception where we live. So you must be aware despite of your diet choices.  

An other myth I often hear is that being vegan means that all of a sudden you can't eat anything, especially the traditional dishes. Well, this is one other thing I certainly must argue against, because basically all dishes can be veganized. This is one of the reasons I wanted to create Lifebasedfoods. To show people that healthy homecooked and hearty vegan foods are possible. You don't have to abandon family dinners at the holiday table, on the opposite. You can make the dinner table even richer. 

Last Tuesday it was Shrove Tuesday or Vastlapäev in Estonian. Some nations celebrate it as Pancake day. Well in the Nordic countries we traditionally celebrate Vastlapäev by eating pea soup and vastlakukkel/semla balls (doughy buns with whipped cream). Luckily we had so many vegan cafes offering vegan semla balls, that it wasn't really an issue. And yes, I ate too much of those! But I really wanted to cook a traditional pea soup at home for my family. And oh god it was good! So I just have to share the recipe with you:

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RUSTIC SCANDINAVIAN PEA SOUP:

  • 250g split dried peas (rinsed and soaked the night before)
  • 150g pearled barley (also soaked the night before)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 big carrot
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 150g of smoked tofu*
  • fresh parsley and dill
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (10g)
  • black pepper and salt for seasoning
  • olive oil 

* If none is available then use sliced vegan smoked ham (100g) and regular tofu (150g) instead

In a big pot heat the oil and cook the finely diced onion until soft. Add some chopped carrots and tofu, roast them a little and add the water with a vegetable stock cube. Then add the soaked peas and barley to the pot. Add some water if needed and season the soup with a little salt and black pepper. Cook on medium heat. Don't forget to stir often. When the peas are almost softened add some finely chopped potatoes with some dill and parsley. Add some water for desired consistency and cook until soft. 

Although it seems as a lot of work at first, it's really easy. Just throw everything in a pot and let it boil into a piece of art! Boiling a soup you have to be creative. Add water to reach the consistency you desire and don't forget to try it in the process to adjust seasoning.

I just love traditional Scandinavian cooking and it's a joy to share the vegan version with you guys!

 

DREAM PLANNER FOR PLANNING DREAMS

I have always loved to write things down on paper. Already the sensation of it- words flowing through your hand, physically leaving a mark on the paper, eventually coming true. I believe that words have power, and even more when they are written down on paper. So I think it's very important not only to talk and think about your wishes, plans, and desires, but also to write them down on black and white. 

In today's world when all possible calendar apps and gadgets are available on your phone, using a paper planner fells less relevant. But for me it's an essential. I truly believe that taking time for yourself once in a day, writing a diary or arranging a daily planner is a somewhat meditative act. Writing down your daily goals and plans really helps you stick to them and think your actions through.  

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If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.
— Mark Spitz

So you can only imagine how happy I am to finally own a great, functional planner over many years. I got this Estonian designed planner for Valentine's day and it has been my good friend ever since. You can find it from Fashion notes by Triinu. This beautiful planner has everything. Motivational quotes, monthly goals planners and to do list's for every day. In addition to all the functionality, it really does have a great design. You just want to use a planner so beautiful. 

I also use the extra space for writing down what I am grateful for every day. It's so important to remind yourself from time to time how wonderful life is. Even the simplest of things. When we are grateful for what we have today, we attract more happiness and abundance into our lives. Even though it may sound cliche, trust me - it works. Love attracts love. So love your life and yourself today, regardless of everything. And you will see that the universe will deal with the rest. 

 

MY VEGAN STORY

There are many reasons why people go vegan. Some do it for their health, some do it for the planet, some do it for ethical or religious reasons. Other people just don't want to contribute to animal suffering. For me the main reason of going vegan was the health question. We are brought up believing that being ill is something inevitable, that conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are bound to strike most of us in old age. Only recently have I realised that you don't have to spend the last decades of your life fighting with horrible diseases like many of my ancestors did. I decided to take my health in my own hands.

At first I felt like I had been living in a lie. Like I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was raised following the standard Western diet in the Nordic countries where meat, fish, and dairy were considered the most important parts of a healthy diet. Luckily my family had relatively healthy eating habits. We usually didn't consume much processed or junk food and my mother is an excellent cook. But nonetheless we did consume a lot of animal products. So at one point when I started my research about veganism I felt like I had found the Holy Grail of health and prosperity. I couldn't believe that all of this information was kept from me. Right now it feels almost ridiculous that I believed myths like "cows give milk all the time" and "protein equals meat". It wasn't that I'm dumb, I just hadn't had the need or chance to educate myself with the truth. As they say: ignorance is bliss - and I truly was in bliss. 

After years of research and on-off relationships with plant based diets it finally dawned to me after having a child of my own. The moment I had her I realised that I don't want to raise her in the same lie I was brought up. I can gamble with my own health but I can't forgive myself if I don't offer her the best I can - giving my knowledge. Satisfying our taste buds or living within the norm isn't worth compromising my child's life for. The final step to going fully vegan I owe to my wonderful and supporting husband. Together we decided that we won't teach our child to live an unhealthy lifestyle just because most of the society thinks it's the norm. We truly believe that a plant based diet is the only option for the future generations. Even now veganism spreads every passing month, we can barely imagine what the situation will be when our daughter grows up.  

I also felt the need to raise her with love and compassion towards all living beings. Animals aren't there for us to consume, and cruelty isn't something you should be comfortable with. Eating meat is usually the easiest part to change, but giving up dairy products is nearly a sin this far North. Especially for a cheese lover like me. (Today I know I was just addicted to the casein). But after having a baby and breastfeeding myself it finally hit me. How would I feel if someone would steal my baby's food? I immediately felt enormous compassion  towards dairy cows and as it turned out - cutting out cheese isn't an issue if you're aware of the true cost of your food. 

Although my vegan journey started with the desire to be healthy and get the most of life, I now feel like all the other causes are equally important. And now I can proudly call myself a true vegan. 

In today's world everyone should have the right to access information about their food, be aware of its origins and know how it affects your body - even if they don't intend to become vegan. And to be fair I truly wonder how somebody can still be living in the dark in - especially in technically advanced countries where via the Internet all of human knowledge is easily accessible. 

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.
— Paul McCartney

Today we know that being a vegetarian isn't nearly enough, but nonetheless the point remains. 

The documentaries that influenced us the most: