UPSIDE DOWN PLUM CAKE

This year I found myself appreciating the coming autumn more than usually. The first smell of late summer evenings when it got colder and colder. First dark evenings and right now of course all the colours nature has to offer. This year has been unusually warm so it’s extremely colourful outside.

Of course with the coming of autumn there is the joy of endless amounts of home apples, all kinds of pumpkins, and plums. I bet that all of you dreamt of some pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice latte as soon as the first sweater weather days came… but despite of experimenting with pumpkin this year, the recipe that I really wanted to share with you guys is the best upside down plum cake you have ever had.

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UPSIDE DOWN PLUM CAKE

You’ll need:

  • some plums (enough to cover your pan)

  • 100 g of vegan butter

  • 200 g flour

  • 2 vegan egg replacer ( I used the “No egg Egg replacer” powder from Siwira Trading)

  • 200 g brown sugar

  • 3 tsp baking powder

  • 150 ml soy milk

  • 1 tsp ginger powder

  • a pinch of salt

Just…

  1. Oil your cake pan with some vegan butter. Cut the plums in half and arrange them on the pan (cut-side down)

  2. Mix flour, baking powder, ginger powder, and salt in a bowl

  3. Melt the vegan butter and mix it with sugar

  4. Mix your vegan egg mixture with soy milk (or any plant milk of your flavor) and then mix it together with your butter mixture. Eventually add your flour mixture as well - adding it bit by bit to avoid lumps

  5. Pour the cake mixture on top of the plums and cook it in the oven at 175 degrees C (fan oven) for about 45 minutes

  6. After taking the cake out make sure to let it cool down.

  7. After it’s cooled down, put a bigger plate over it and turn it over, remove the pan

We enjoyed the cake with Choice’s vegan vanilla ice cream. I used a 28 cm diameter cake pan for the cake and it came out perfect! It was such a hit I had to literally bake it two times in a row last weekend!

So enjoy your weekend and those cosy autumn days with this heartwarming upside down plum cake!

 Little wanderer.

Little wanderer.

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!

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. 

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

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. 

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!

 

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: