Mornings

Pink Latte, Golden Latte, Green Latte and Blue latte to sooth your soul

Pink Latte

1 cup unsweetened vegan milk (such as almond milk, oat milk or hemp milk)

1 tsp beet powder (or a small cube of cooked beetroot)

½ tsp ceylon cinnamon

⅓ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp raw organic honey or maple syrup or agave

1 tsp coconut oil

 

Golden Latte

1 cup unsweetened mylk (such as almond milk, oat milk or hemp milk)

½ tsp turmeric

½ teaspoon cinnamon

⅓ tsp ground cardamom

a pinch of ground nutmeg

1 tsp raw organic honey or maple syrup or agave

1 tsp coconut oil

 

Green Latte

1 cup unsweetened mylk (such as almond milk, oat milk or hemp milk)

1 tsp matcha powder

⅓ tsp chlorella

¼ tsp ashwagandha

⅓ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp peppermint extract or fresh mint leaves

1 tsp raw organic honey or maple syrup or agave

1 tsp coconut oil

 

Blue Latte

1 cup unsweetened mylk (such as almond milk, oat milk or hemp milk)

¼ tsp blue algae powder (like Blue Majik)

¼ tsp ashwagandha

⅓ tsp ground ginger

juices of half a lemon

1 tsp raw organic honey or maple syrup or agave

1 tsp coconut oil

 

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk all the ingredients – except honey, if you’re using it. Cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, let cool slightly and add the sweetener, honey or syrup. Top with ceylon cinnamon or beet powder, if you like. Enjoy warm!

Tip 1: You can also warm the milk and then pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.

Tip 2: If you want to play with colors, make different colors of lattes, scoop off some froth from the surface and mix the froths to different colors of lattes, like pink froth to golden latte, yellow froth to pink latte and so on.

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And so has the week before Christmas started. The perfect time to start fueling up hard core with all the lovely christmas flavors, spices and Holiday treats and taking the Christmas in with all your cells and taste buds. Showering with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise and ginger. Living the Christmas to the fullest! Like they say. Or like I say, at least.

Although I have a strong tendency to flip into the Christmas insanity, my passion is mainly focused on the food & the mood, not so much on the material stuff. Well okay, I have installed a small set of fairy lights (aprox. 8 meters long) on the balcony and a humble (only a half meter big) star on the window, but otherwise I mainly believe in peace & love kind of Christmas. Because when you just stop, breathe deep and be present then you are in the very essence of Christmas.

And it is just so much more romantic just to burn candles and enjoy small dishes and treats with christmas flavors all around the christmas time than to go bonkers with decoration and to stress over huge Holiday dinners that take insanely long time to prepare. 

“You get the most beautiful Christmas by returning back to basics: To the simple and tasty food that makes you feel good and to small handmade ornaments and gifts that touch the heart.”  Like we say in our new Christmas book that I made with my ever-so-lovely friend Riikka Kantinkoski. The book is all about a low-key Christmas with easy, natural and rustic interior ideas and healthy (gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweetened and mainly vegan) recipes for the Holidays and for the whole winter time. The book, called Joulukirja (“The Christmas book”) came out a few weeks ago and I’m super proud of it. Go check it out, if you happen to be in Finland and hang around bookstores!

The Gingerbread Porridge in this post didn’t make it into the book, but it most certainly would have if I just would have came up with it a bit earlier than last week. But hey, luckily I can share it with you guys now!

I got to use lovely Gluten-free & Deluxe products of Lidl in it, for example Gluten-free Rolled Oats, Walnut oil, Dates and Clove & Cardamom Mills. Those spice mills are especially my favorites because you can just go ahead and grind lovely christmas flavors on just about everything with them! On your porridge, on stews and casseroles, on cakes and other treats – or even on your cranky neighbour that needs to get into Christmas mood.

…I bet Lidl wouldn’t sign the last recommendation for use, but you get my permission.

Or even better, go ahead and prepare this Gingerbread oatmeal to the Grinch of your life and I bet you’ll see a warm light start shining through his/her eyes. I mean, this stuff really brings the Christmas. 

Be good, my friend & eat a lot of porridge.

V

(In collaboration with LIDL)

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Hello darlings, it’s been a while! Actually over a month since my last post. …Oops. I could say that I have been working like crazy and have been doing this and that and the third, which would be very much true, but as my mother always says: only a lazy person counts her work. So let’s trust her and forget explanations and concentrate on the present, and on the most essential – the goodies I brought you!

I have been doing some collaboration with Oatlet Store, which is a brilliant webshop that deals oat-based products. And as a big fan of all oat related I have been super excited to test their gluten-free oat products from Provena and to design new recipes with them.

One of my absolutely favorite thing that came out of my laboratory is this pre-christmas sweet potato oat porridge. It is just insanely tasty, comforting and rich! And it includes my favorite ingredients at the moment: Sweet potato, cinnamon, cardamom, pecan nuts and – jumbo-sized oat flakes. Oh-my-god – TOTALLY different thing than those small oat flakes, that taste like a cardboard, especially after you’ve tasted jumbo ones. So delicious, and you get beautifully textured hearty porridge out of them.

I’m planning to make this sweet potato oat porridge my family’s official christmas porridge that will be consumed every morning until christmas. Well, at least on the weekends. And maybe only in December. I would rather like this to give nice taste memories to my kid than to cause any food traumas. It is too good to be overdosed. …Although I have a tiny hunch I’m gonna do it personally anyways.

But hey, with this pre-christmas porrdige I have also a pre-christmas gift for you: With the code VANELJA you get -20 % discount when shopping in Oatlet Store and the discount is available for two weeks from now. Oatlet Store ships throughout the EU. And if you want a tip, I can recommend at least, surprise surprise, these Provena Gluten Free Jumbo Oats and also Provena Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour for baking.

Have a lovely November, stay warm and eat a lot of porridge!

V

SWEET POTATO OAT PORRIDGE

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One of the most traditional ways to celebrate something here in Finland is to make coffee and serve cinnamon buns. That old school serving suits all types of parties and in every occasion.

A baby is born – coffee and cinnamon buns, you win a lottery – coffee and cinnamon buns, someone dies – coffee and cinnamon buns, your blog is nominated in The Blog Awards Finland in the Health and Wellness category – coffee and cinn.. Wait, no. Actually then it’s not coffee nor cinnamon buns, but healthy cinnamon bun”ish” waffles! The exception proves the rule.

So here I am with my not-so-traditional but yet so-very-delicious cinnamon bun waffles as it indeed happened that my blog got nominated in the Blog Awards Finland in the Health and Wellness category. Yay!

The nomination in that specific category made me took a stroll down memory lane and look back to where I started, which was five years ago in my former Finnish health blog called Kiitos hyvää.

Kiitos hyvää was a blog mainly about well-being and “high quality life”. In that time I was very deeply into all kind of nutrition stuff, different methods of measuring health and gaining better health, raw food, superfood, super this and super that. I was truly and totally a health nerd. All that super health hype feels kind of funny to me nowadays, but it was an adventure I had to take in order to get here, into more peaceful and calmer place.

It is very relaxing when you realise that the purpose of your life is to serve only in a way that brings great joy to yourself and others. Not to battle and strive. That is the reason I nowadays post only easygoing inspiration and nice recipes and not try to convince anyone of what is the best diet or how should others live their lives. I don’t have clue, only a delicate and occasionally fading hunch on how to live my own.

But that’s how life, health and wellness are, delicate and constantly changing things that escape exact definitions and are not bound to one truth.

My truth today is happiness and gratitude for being nominated in the biggest Blog Award in my country. And from that happiness I channel these cinnamon bun waffles to you!

Thank you for being there, friend.

V

CINNAMON BUN WAFFLES

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Did I hear someone wondering why it is so quiet in Vanelja and why the lady of the house has not been posting ANYTHING for over five weeks (which equals an eternity in the world of internet)?

Well, let me explain. It is because of the incredible tradition we have here in Finland called a summer holiday month. Yes, a holiday MONTH. In my country people just totally stop working for about 4 – 6 weeks in the summer time. No joke. They travel to their summer cottages, soak their feet in some of our thousands of lakes or in the Baltic sea, wander in forests picking berries, laying around in their hammocks and watching the clouds go by. And if you are an employee you get actually paid for doing all that. Plus your employer gives you also a big monetary reward when you return to work, as a thank you for coming back. I’m still not pulling you. Welcome to Finland.

Although, as I’m nowadays an entrepreneur and outside of that financial support system when being on a vacation, but still, what can you do, I’m a true Finn, I need my holiday month. Also I’m a true believer of freedom which means that you do what ever your heart desires and sometimes it might just be something else than blogging. Like swimming in the sea and picking cloudberries.

But now I have returned from my big Finnish summer adventure and trying to re-teach myself on how to use the internet. I’m starting gently and for the time being my bed is my home office and my pajamas are my uniform. That is why it also felt natural to share you guys a breakfast recipe, because my week has mainly felt like an eternal morning, or a Sunday.

This dairy free peach coconut yogurt and cinnamon granola enjoyed with peanut butter is just a perfect thing for hazy lazy times like this.

And the super soft bed linen you see in the pictures, that are decorating my headquarters, those I got from ever so lovely Evencki. I think it wash actually the linen that made me think of peaches in the first place. The color and the tender softness. Both perfect for a week of Sundays.

V

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I have a huge spring time crush happening here. The target of my affection is oh-so creamy and dreamy home-made pistachio milk. What a charmer. The color of this heavenly nectar is so beautiful that I could just sit and watch it´s tones through my drinking glass forever. …If I would not be so eager to gulp it down in a heartbeat.

Pistachio milk is perfect for example in making raw cakes and ice creams and it´s a loveliest base for smoothies too! In today´s smoothie recipe I connected pistachio milk with figs. And boy did it turn out delicious!

I warmly recommend you try it out on some lovely spring day. And also a bunch of other delicious and fresh smoothie recipes from my free e-book, Creamy Smoothie Guide!

And hey, while you´re here could I ask you to take a minute (or more like 30 seconds) and vote for VANELJA in Saveur Food Blog Awards in the best-designed blog category, as my blog is one of the finalists. Your vote would mean a world to me! As this whole being-in-the-finals already did. You need to registrate first but it only takes a second and you won´t get any junk mail.

So Click & Vote for VANELJA and pure pleasures! Thank you darling, I send you loads of love in return!

V

PISTACHIO FIG SMOOTHIE

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I must say – and it might come as a surprise when thinking of my profession as a food editor, recipe artist and a cook book author – but I´m a quite terrible cook.

And that is when it comes to normal, real food, meaning warm dishes, meals and dinners. In that area of cooking my imagination just stops and mind goes blank. I have maybe two kinds of dishes that I can handle well: the other one is oven roasted or steamed vegetables and the other one is veggie soups. Oh yeah, there´s also a third one I like to serve and that´s called “Let´s go out to eat.” That´s something that is served in our family many times a week. And I´m not proud of it. It´s just that I might miss a chromosome that makes mothers eager to cook meals for their family. My man misses that too. His cooking chromosome, I mean. Well, maybe mine too.

Okay, I think I would have the basic skills one needs in preparing good meals, but it is the passion and interest that I lack. Even though the inspiration would be found everywhere. Cook books and internet are bursting delicious recipes, but for some reason mostly the sweet stuff catches my eye. Or snacks. Or breakfast things. That part of cooking makes my eyes sparkle and mouth water.

This being said it might not be a surprise that I´ll once again serve you guys something from that field. It is a great invention of mine called a Breakfast Cake. It unites granola and chocolate pudding. It is truly a brilliant thing. It´s really soft and fudgy and can barely hold a shape of a cake. But it can, and that is why it´s called cake, not just a pile of pudding and granola. It is not too sweet because in the morning too much sweetness for me is like loud noise to tastepuds. You will want to wake up your senses gently.

The other great thing besides the subtle and delicious taste and a great concept is that for a change this recipe is totally nut-free. I´ve received so many pretty requests for nut-free recipes from people with allergies that I thought now is the time.

I have also received many pretty requests for recipes for healthy meals but as you now know, I´m not quite there yet. Still developing. Maybe someday in the future I will start creating these great entrees for you readers and for my family. (to be honest, hopefully I will be able to hire someone to do that in my home and on this site…)

So for now I´ll continue with these sweeties and snacks! With them – I rock.

Try this and you´ll rock too.

V

CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE

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Nothing suits better for hazy early winter mornings than this vanilla coconut pudding with a hint of warm spices. It kisses you so softly that you can then handle anything the day brings.

V

VANILLA COCONUT PUDDING

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This sunday is Father´s Day here in Finland. And because our papa – as in my man – does not appreciate too much cakes or other pastry I designed some savory treat for him: Paleo toast with ricotta cheese, pear slices, cinnamon, pecan nuts and honey on top. To be served him in bed, of course.

These darlings were so good. You really need to make them, now. Or at least for tomorrow breakfast. If you happen to value a good and luxurious toast. And who wouldn´t?
Toast makes you happy, especially with abundant toppings like these. There´s something addictive with combination of soft and crispy, warm and cold, sweet and savory. Attraction of the opposites. Attraction of a good toast.

V

PALEO TOAST

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I love a meal of good honest oatmeal porridge. So warm and comforting in the cold mornings. So safe and secure. And yet easily – oh so boring. Especially when eaten at almost every breakfast in the cold season, as the tradition goes in many households here in Finland. Oatmeal porridge with butter. Oatmeal porridge with berries. Oatmeal porridge with milk. Oh my dear porridge, I love you, but we really need to spice things up if we want to save our relationship!

And so came the spices. Last week I got to taste this really interesting variation of oatmeal porridge in a PR event. Oatmeal was cooked with coconut milk and served with licorice sauce. The combination was so darn delicious! I had to try it at home and make my own version of it.

I cooked the oatmeal in a mixture of oat milk and coconut milk with some vanilla, and also added a ripe banana in slices. I topped the whole thing with licorice chia jam.
Oatmeal and licorice are both inherently Finnish flavours and they match beautifully with coconut and banana. There's north and south combined. There's something familiar and something surprising. Not dull anymore! This one truly perked up my porridge relationship and made the love stronger.

V
COCONUT OAT PORRIDGE WITH LICORICE CHIA JAM

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What happens when two ultimate breakfast lovers and foodies meet? Answer is: Sunday in Bed breakfast menu. Which means foods that make you stay with your breakfast long, keep your pajamas on the whole day, crumble on sheets, leave food and dishes here and there so that you can return eating after a small nap.

We created the menu together with super lovely Tuulia from Uusia Tuulia blog (that you can read also in english now!) We two share the same food visions, we love good and delicious food, clean flavors, fresh ingredients, and most of all, good breakfasts.

Sunday in Bed breakfast menu includes:

  • Almond yogurt

  • Berry almond granola

  • Lemon pancake

  • Orange blossom jam

  • Hemp bread rolls

  • Kiwi Spinach Apple juice

I could go on and on about how amazing all these dishes are eaten together or alone, but instead I just recommend you, very warmly, to write down all these ingredients and get them for your slow weekend mornings.

The recipes for almond yogurt, jam and bread rolls you can find here below and the recipes for granola, pancake and juice you can get from Tuulia´s blog.( Just switch the language to english from the upper bar on her page!)

Have lazy and lovely weekend!

V

ALMOND YOGURT

(dairy-free)

  • 2 cups raw almonds (soaked overnight)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbl honey
  • 1 probiotic capsule or 1 package vegan yogurt starter 3 tbls natural yogurt/ unflavored vegan yogurt with active bacterial culture
  • 1 – 3 ts agar agar (if you want your yogurt to be thicker)

blend soaked and strained almonds, water, and sweetener and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture with cheese cloth on top of a bowl, so that you get a nice white almond milk. You can use the left over almond pulp for example with crackers or bread rolls.
Pour the almond milk into a pot and warm it so that it almost boils. If you want your yogurt to be thicker, add agar agar and boil carefully for about 5 – 7 minutes and add probiotic powder after that. Allow the mixture to cool. Stir in the brobiotic powder / yogurt. Pour yogurt into a sealable clean glass jar. Allow the mixture to incubate for about 6 – 12 hours. Store the yogurt in an air-tight container/jar in the refridgerator.
Try different lengths of time yogurt cultures and amount of culture you use so that you find the best way to make the perfect yogurt for your taste!

HEMP BREAD ROLLS

  • 1 tablespoon of chia-seed + 0,5 cup water
  • 1,5 cup almond flour (you can substitute part of this with the almond pulp left over from making the almond yogurt)
  • 0,5 cup oatmeal
  • 0,25 cup potato flour
  • 0,5 cup hemp seeds
  • 0,25 cup of linen seeds
  • 1,5 tsp psyllium fiber husk
  • 1,5 tsp baking powder

  • 1,5 cups of water (or some dairy-free milk)

  • 0,25 cup melt butter (or coconut oil)
  • 2 tablespoons hemp oil
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • 0,5 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200 celcius degrees. Mix chia seeds and oat milk in a small bowl and let it sit for about 15 minutes until you get a gel-like mixture. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add water, melted butter/oil, chia gel, honey, apple vinegar and salt. Allow the dough to swell for a couple of minutes. The dough should be soft, plump, like a yeast dough – not dry. If necessary, add some flour or liquid.

Take pieces of dough and roll them into balls and put them on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet. Sprinkle some poppy seeds on top. Bake the buns for about 30 minutes in center of the oven until they are nice and golden. Take out of the oven, let them cool a bit, serve and enjoy!

ORANGE BLOSSOM CHIA-JAM

  • 3 oranges
  • 3 tablespoons local raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water
  • 3 tablespoons chia-seeds

Puree the oranges in the blender until the mixture is smooth. Add the honey and orange blossom water and stir. Taste and add sweetness, if you will. Pour the mixture into a clean, sealable glass jar and stir in the chia-seeds. Leave to thicken, stir after 15 minutes and put the jar in the fridge for about 1 to 5 hours. Use with pancakes or other goodies! Store in a refrigerator in closed jar. Use within a week.

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There's some licorice mania going on here. All licorice related feels now tempting. All kinds of licorice and chocolate combinations in particular.

A few years ago, I fell in love with the Finnish Panda Duello candies that were these wonderful chocolate-coated licorice pieces. (For which, by the way, my husband directed a cute ad)

I got a little upset when I realized that these candies were no longer being manufactured, which was ultimately a good thing, because I panicked and developed my own substitute – a healthy licorice chocolate. The recipe is included in my upcoming Kiitos hyvää cookbook that will find its way to the Finnish shops in the first week of December.

Only it's terrible to have to hold back so wonderful a secret for such a long time!

So to ease the pain of keeping this secret and to help my licorice mania, I made a licorice smoothie parfait with a hint of chocolate.

I have once made a licorice smoothie for Four Sigma Foods back in the day that charmed many. This smoothie parfait is a lot like the FSF smoothie, except that this one contains a few different ingredients and is built in layers, which makes it more a dessert than a morning smoothie.

Licorice smoothie parfait

Chia pudding:

  • 5 rkl chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • ½ tl vanilla powder

Licorice smoothie:

  • ¼ cups almonds
  • 2 dried figs
  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups almond milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 1-4 ts black licorice root extract powder (or grated licorice extract stick)

    • 1 banana

Chia pudding:
Make the chia pudding by adding chia seeds, almond milk and vanilla in a jar, stir after 30 minutes and let then sit 2 hours or overnight in a fridge. The longer you refrigerate the pudding, the thicker it will be.

Licorice smoothie:
Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Add enough liquid to make it smooth but not too watery.

Assembly:
Add about ¼ cups of smoothie in a big glass. Spoon in chia pudding and add then sliced banana. Top with the licorice smoothie. Grate some licorice extract stick on top. Serve and enjoy!

Try, if you dare. You see, this might very easily lead to an addiction for licorice lovers. You know what they say, once you go black, you never go back.

V

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