Nourishing Breakfast Waffles

Hello and happy Monday!

I’m back with another recipe, and this time we’re not firing up the grill but heating up the oven to prepare some delicious baked waffles. (Alternatively, feel free to try these with a traditional waffle-iron). I recently bought some silicone waffle molds and love how much easier it is to make waffles in the oven. You can make them all in one go and can pop the molds into the dishwasher to reduce clean- up 😉

I love these waffles for weekend breakfast, especially pre- or post-workout, as they’re not only tasty but also super nourishing and packed with good-for-you ingredients such as banana, dates, buckwheat flour and this nutty ground chia and flax seed mixture from Iswari. I created this recipe as part of a collaboration with Iswari Suisse – if you order anything from Iswari Suisse, you can get 5% off with the discount code “blueberrysmiles”. (Disclaimer: I earn a small commission on such orders).

Ok, enough talk, let’s get to the recipe!

Nourishing Breakfast Waffles

Makes: 6 medium waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 50g soft and sweet dates
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp rice mylk
  • 1 tsbp Omega 3 Mix (ground flax- and chia seeds)
  • 160g buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon lucuma powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 heaped tbsp aquafaba (save the chickpea water from the tin and beat until it reaches a consistency close to beaten egg whites)
  • coconut oil for greasing
  • Recommended toppings: berries, banana, nut butter and maple syrup
  • Variations: substitute some of the buckwheat flour (or the lucuma powder) with matcha or acai powder, for example, to switch things up!

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients, gently folding in the aqua faba at the end.
  2. Grease the moulds with some coconut oil and divide the batter equally.
  3. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C until golden brown and firm (this will depend on the oven – for me it takes around 15-20 minutes).
  4. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Enjoy!

xoxo

Sweet Potato Nice Cream

Hello and happy Sunday!

One of my favorite things for staying cool in this hot weather is a serving of delicious, smooth and creamy, refreshing nice cream. I love how a frozen banana is pretty much all you need for a cooling and naturally sweet treat – but I also love experimenting with different flavors and fun ingredients.

Yesterday, for a post-workout meal I added some frozen sweet potato to my blender and ended up with a super satisfying, dessert-like concoction that left me with a big smile on my face. You can blend frozen sweet potato, frozen banana and cacao for a very simple version (with dates or maple syrup for extra sweetness), but below I’ll share with you exactly what I used.

I love the deep flavor the raw cacao powder gives this as well as the hint of fruity sweetness from the lucuma – the two powders complement each other perfectly and add extra goodness and nutrition to this already nutritious treat.*

Ingredients:

  • 150g sweet potato (cooked and frozen)
  • 1 ripe, frozen banana (mine was 130g)
  • 1.5 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp lucuma powder
  • 1/2 tbsp carob powder
  • ca. 1 tbsp rice mylk
  • optional: 1 tbsp maple syrup / 1-2 dates (for more sweetness)
  • optional: 1 tbsp pea protein
  • Toppings: berries, chocolate sauce, nut butter such as peanut or almond butter, jam

*I use “superfoods” from Iswari, because I love the taste and quality. You can get 5% off orders from Iswari Suisse with the discount code “blueberrysmiles” (Disclaimer: I earn a small commission on such orders). 

Method:

  1. Blend the frozen sweet potato and banana (and dates, if using), adding the mylk. (Depending on how powerful your blender is, you might have to let the frozen ingredients defrost a bit).
  2. Stir in all the other ingredients.
  3. Enjoy as is or with your desired toppings.

Variation

To make this more of a mousse, simply use a non-frozen banana and/or non-frozen sweet potato [as in the photo below]. For extra creaminess, stir in some nut butter 😉

I hope you enjoy!

xoxo

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Healthy Vegan Meal Prep

Good morning and happy Saturday!

As some of you know, I started my first post-graduation job this January. After all these years of studying, it’s been an exciting change and I’ve been enjoying finally feeling like a working member of society! As anticipated, it obviously also radically changed my lifestyle – no more “insta-worthy” pancake stacks for breakfast, working in my pjs all morning, trying out new cafes in the afternoon, going to the gym anytime I want etc. etc.

This past month I’ve been getting up at 5.30 am, leaving the house in the dark, getting back home in the dark, having some dinner and going to bed between 9.30/10 pm. Definitely less time to do some of the things I love, and certainly no longer the luxurious option of being able to cook my meals throughout the day. To make my life a bit easier, I knew the time had come to finally delve into the fascinating practice of meal prep.

It’s early days, but I thought I’d share with you some of my meal prep routine so far.

 

SUNDAY MEAL PREP

This is the more “serious” meal prep, when I can make lots of different elements if I want to. So far my strategy has been to:

1. Cook a grain (like quinoa or millet) and

2. Throw some random things in the oven to roast. Then I combine these elements in my trusty tupperware and can:

3. add a dollop of hummus, mashed avocado etc. on the day, to switch things up.

During the week I miss having more time and energy to spend in the kitchen, so I try get a proper cooking session in on the weekend – especially on Sunday. By Friday/Saturday I generally have an idea of what this will be, so I have everything I need on Sunday.

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Meal Prep #1: To illustrate, my first serious Sunday meal prep involved cooking a batch of millet, while oven-roasting chopped sweet potato, pumpkin, plantain, carrots and turmeric-ginger cauliflower. I also quickly heated up some frozen peas (by simply adding boiling water from the kettle), which I added to the tupperware. At work, one of my colleagues offered me some of her gloriously pink beetroot hummus, which was the perfect addition. I now tend to have a tub in the fridge, to add some to my prepped meals. (No time to make my own hummus on a regular basis anymore…)

You can make this as simple or complex as you like – simply roasting up a batch of sweet potato and cauliflower and adding some hummus and fresh greens, or making more elements on the stove, like a curry. Last Sunday I went all out, also making a yellow lentil, pumpkin & kale dhal, flower sprout chips and quinoa, to combine with my oven-roasted goodies, beetroot hummus and avocado.

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(This is how I served it up for my boyfriend and I on Sunday – the copious leftovers I transferred to tupperware, and I still had some servings of dhal I could freeze).

 

SIMPLE WEEKDAY PREP

You probably can make enough on a Sunday to last you all week. I don’t like keeping leftovers in the fridge for too long, though, and my freezer space is quite limited. Instead, I end up doing another meal prep during the week. Difference to the Sunday one? It only takes about 15 minutes. Here are my favorites:

Meal Prep #2: Turmeric & Ginger Quinoa (an old staple) with carrots and peas. Minimal chopping, everything in one pot, no fuss. I like to stir through some coconut oil or olive oil at the end. Depending on what I have around, I add on to this or switch it up, e.g. adding flower sprouts a few minutes before the quinoa has cooked, or some hummus, leftover roasted veg etc.

Meal Prep #3: Mediterranean Pasta – I add wholemeal spelt pasta (usually I make two – large – servings) and 1 head of chopped broccoli into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for about 5-6 minutes. While this is cooking I chop 1 zucchini, 1 small aubergine and several sundried tomatoes (the kind in olive oil with herbs). When the broccoli pasta is done, I transfer it to a colander, then heat up one clove of crushed garlic in some of the olive oil from the jar of tomatoes. I add the diced veg and cook for a few minutes, adding salt. Once they’re soft I add the pasta into the pan, to mix all the flavors and also season with some mixed Italian herbs and maybe some smokey paprika.

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Meal Prep #4: Tahini Tomato Pasta – another old staple I often used to have as a simple post-workout meal. Basically you cook pasta with veggies of your choice and stir in tahini, tomato paste, some olive oil (and smokey paprika and/or cayenne pepper for some heat).

 

DESSERT/SNACK PREP

We can’t forget dessert can we? My favorite sweet treat to prepare has been my double chocolate cookies (pictured in the first photo). They are so quick to prepare (you can even have them raw if you’re really low on time) and full of nourishing ingredients. My only problem has been that I eat a lot of them on Sundays already, and don’t have enough left to last me through the week. For more healthy sweet treat ideas check out my breakfast cookies (for breakfast on-the-go or dessert – you can always add a bit of maple syrup if you prefer them even sweeter), fudgy feel-good squares (pictured below), chocolate-covered pitaya and PB&J energy balls.

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These options may not be quite as glamorous as the quinoa-sushi-burritos or soba noodle salads with peanut sauce and coriander I pictured myself making, after watching YouTube videos on vegan meal prep – but they’ve been working for me, keeping me nourished throughout the day without taking up too much of my time. I’m sure I’ll be adding on to this as I play around with more options.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and please let me know about your meal prep routine if you have one!

Happy weekend 🙂

xoxo

 

Reflecting on a Year of Plant-Based Eating

I started this blog almost a year ago, to celebrate my love for plant-based eating, and to share some of the happiness it’s brought me. As it’s also been over a year since I’ve embarked on a fully plant-based diet, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my thoughts and experiences on this topic.

Why did I go fully plant-based?

Back in February 2016 I started learning more about plant-based eating, in the hope it might heal my chronic stomach problems. I’d already cut out dairy after being diagnosed with an intolerance – a change that had alleviated, but by no means eliminated my symptoms – and was inspired by discovering Deliciously Ella, whose plant-based diet had helped her manage a rare autoimmune disease. At the same time, I came across a book called How Not to Die, by Dr. Michael Greger. Having already been interested in nutrition, I picked it up with an eager and open mind, and was soon convinced of his message advocating a plant-based diet. The nutritional science coupled with Ella’s infectiously positive take on food, life and plants were the perfect catalyzing combo for this diet shift.

During my uni holidays that February I worked my way through Ella’s recipe books, discovering a love for kale, tahini and chocolate avocado ganache cake that made me as excited about food as I had never been before. From then on, I’ve been almost exclusively plant-based [on a holiday in Greece late June/early July 2016 I had some seafood, as options for balanced plant-based eating were very limited where we stayed; I haven’t had any animal products since] and absolutely loving it.

 

What was the hardest?

In terms of giving things up: yogurt and tuna. Plain yogurt was a staple item for me, as part of breakfast or a snack, and soy yogurt, unfortunately, didn’t make me feel good. When I gave up dairy I first started having banana overnight oats with hemp protein for breakfast, until I discovered smoothie bowls (see my first ever recipe post) and never looked back. And as to tuna: I stopped craving it once I got absorbed with all the other amazing things I was cooking and creating.

I also have to say that my stomach was not at all happy at first, due to the sudden influx of new, fibrous foods. In hindsight, I wouldn’t recommend having big bowls of raw kale salad every evening, eating bread made out of pretty much only seeds, and overindulging on chickpea blondies. (This will probably be obvious to many people, but I was just too excited to try all these new things). Thankfully, my body soon adjusted.

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Mmm chickpea blondies (I remember, it was so hard stopping myself from eating the batter) This is the recipe I used.

 

What has been the best thing about going plant-based?

Definitely the excitement and happiness the things I now eat give me. Smoothie bowls loaded with peanut butter for breakfast, when I’m not having the most indulgent-tasting chocolate mousse or delicious pancakes (what can I get you: chocolate tahini, banana almond butter, or purple sweet potato? 😉 )- and maybe I’ll have pancakes for dinner, because, why not? Full of fiber and healthy fats and antioxidants – they can be a balanced meal instead of empty calories that leave you feeling sluggish, and maybe slightly guilty. I love how food can taste incredible but also be so good for you – there’s no need to compromise. I’ve also discovered a passion for creamy hummus, sweet potato falafels, decadent bowls of oatmeal, crepes, (sweet and savory), and have realized that you really can have your cake and eat it too (see e.g. these gooey feel-good squares) 😉

Because I still do struggle with my stomach, the fact that I can still get enormous enjoyment from my food, even if my appetite is not quite there and I’m experiencing discomfort, has been so enriching.

Also, creating my Instagram account (blueberrysmiles22) where I share some of my meals has allowed me to meet some incredible people and (sorry if this is getting [cashew]-cheesy) to feel part of a loving, inspiring community. Being able to engage and connect with people who share this love and excitement has been truly amazing.

 

How do I feel about plant-based eating now?

What I’m not going to say is that a fully plant-based diet has given me boundless energy, made my hair grow ten times faster and been a general panacea. I’m all about being honest with whatever I share, and I have to say that there have been times when I’ve questioned whether it is, in fact, the healthiest way of eating for me.

Having done my research, I started taking B12 supplements right from the start, and soon also started taking microalgae-based Omega 3 (DHA and EPA are components of Omega 3 that – unlike ALA, which you find e.g. in flaxseeds and walnuts – are not easily available on a vegan diet), which is combined with a source of vitamin D. I’ve also started taking an iron supplement, as, a few months ago, I started experiencing unusual tiredness and a ‘fuzzy head.’ I went to get my blood tested as I was preparing for exams and needed to be able to focus, and was told to take a supplement, as my iron levels turned out to be mildly below normal (despite eating lots of leafy greens and legumes). Since then my energy levels have been up again, and I feel fine.

 

To sum it up: Changing my diet to a fully plant-based one has, without a doubt, improved the quality of my life, bringing more enjoyment, satisfaction, indulgence and variety with it. It has also been a fantastic creative outlet, and connected me with amazing people around the world. At the same time, I am aware of the fact that it is not necessarily the easiest diet for providing the body with all the nutrients it needs in the most easily-absorbed form (iron from plant sources, e.g., is less easily absorbed than that from animal sources – with, however, the benefit of not being inflammatory, like the latter) – a challenge I accept by trying to get as much nutrition into my meals as I can.

I’ve had a wonderful year of eating a fully plant-based diet and will happily continue eating this way as long as I am thriving on it, and it feels right to me.

Hope you enjoyed reading!

xoxo

Here is the celebratory meal I had at Farmacy – the first plant-based foodie spot I visited when I moved to London in September. 

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A Fit and Fab Start to 2017

Hey there!

Hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve and have started well into 2017! This year I went for something a bit different and decided to spend the last few hours of the old year sweating it out in a club with lots of other fitness fanatics. The Fitssi “Rave and Behave” party  was incredibly fun and involved four different workouts (lower body, HIIT, abs and a choreo-style one) led by various trainers and separated by intervals of dancing, and of course refueling: There were iced buckets of – no, not Champagne, although the winners of the plank challenge did win some bubbly (how can anyone hold the plank for 7 minutes??!!) – vegan protein shakes by Missfits and instead of salty bar food there were bananas with  Nut Blend spreads. (Sounds like my kind of party!)

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Besides the fact that it was so fun and incredibly refreshing seeing everyone in their sneakers and gym gear – not a high heel or false eyelash in sight! – it was great getting that added endorphin boost from not just being active and being part of something, but from trying something new and appreciating the increase in strength and fitness you’ve achieved over the past year.

I’m so glad my friend Gemma and I tried it and I definitely recommend keeping your eyes peeled for such events next year, as I’m sure there will be more exciting ways to have fun while also doing something good for yourself. (Muscle ache = the new hangover?) 😉

The next morning we treated ourselves to a lazy brunch at Granger & Co, where I started the year off in style with a delicious acai bowl and warming almond milk chai.

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And lastly, do I have any New Year’s Resolutions? Yes and no. I definitely have goals I want to achieve and things I want to work on, but they are not motivated by a changing digit. One of these goals is to continue working on Mindfulness – something that I’ve already found to be extremely beneficial to my wellbeing in the short time that I’ve been practicing it.

Hope you enjoyed reading about an alternative way to spend New Year’s Eve and I wish you a truly happy & healthy 2017!

xoxo

 

My First Plant-Based Christmas

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My last post was about my feelings in the run-up to Christmas and talked about what I would do to feel more included in the festive meals. Well, I implemented all the things I discussed and I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made!

These Deliciously Ella roasted maple sprouts with hazelnuts, chili and pomegranate seeds made a wonderful addition to our Christmas Eve dinner. It was such a simple yet satisfying dish to prepare, made the kitchen smell nice and brightened up our table. While my family had some along with their grilled octopus and french fries, I had mine with some hummus my dad bought for me. It was nice hearing appreciative comments and feeling like I’d contributed to what my mom said was the nicest Christmas Eve meal we’d ever had (the only difference to last year’s being the addition of my sprouts, I  naturally take some of the credit and fully agree 😉 ).

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For dessert my family had a chestnut mousse while I enjoyed some squishy medjool dates that I stuffed with dark chocolate and pecan nuts (so good!) and a mince pie.

Christmas brunch on the 25th was another great success. In previous years we always went to my grandfather’s for lunch, but this having been preponed to the week before, we decided to have a relaxed brunch instead. I made my Banana Almond Butter Pancakes, which were an unexpected hit with my sister. (I bribed her with some of my chocolate to try one, and, to my great joy, she ended up liking them and eating more). Along with those I had lots of lovely fresh fruit – papaya, persimmon, kiwi, pomegranate, berries – and one of the sweet saffron maize bread rolls I’d made the night before with coconut oil, almond butter and raspberry chia jam. I’m also glad I made some guacamole, as not only did it taste so good with the second half of my maize roll, but my mom ended up eating some too, along with her croissant, cheese and meat. And while my Dad and sister had Eggs Benedict, they ate them on the English muffins I made. So while we all essentially had different meals, the fact that we shared some components, along with the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, brought it all together.

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This year’s Christmas has truly made me realize the importance of sharing food on special occasions. Cooking for others is a way of showing love and appreciation and eating a delicious meal together can also be a wonderful shared experience. For this reason I’m so glad I made the changes I did, so that I was able to feel more a part of our Christmas meals despite eating a fully plant-based diet. It really showed me the difference between merely leaving a component away and actively adding something that enriches the occasion for all.

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

xoxo