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.

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! 

 

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

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! 

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!

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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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!