The Green Creator - Health Blogger | Holistic Health Coach
Welcome to The Green Creator! I'm sharing here my whole food plant-based recipes with you. I'm also posting health advice related articles and anything related to a holistic life such as happiness, my travels and natural beauty.
It may not be spring yet, but the birds are already chirping and the days are really getting longer and longer, which is a huge blessing for a food photographer. Since last December I wanted to create a spring version of potato pancakes and I think now the time is perfect for that. During the winter holiday season it seemed like everyone in Germany and Luxembourg (am I missing any other country?) was eating ''Gromperekichelcher'' while strolling through a cozy Christmas market. Gromperekichelcher are actually potato pancakes, hash browns or crispy potato fritters and a traditional festive winter recipe. Although I LOVE potatoes, Gromperekichelcher potato pancakes are very high (read: soaked) in oil. Eggs are also used in this traditional recipe. However, the idea of the recipe is amazing so I wanted to create a spring/summer edition of this traditional potato recipe.
A lighter, plant-based and healthier version of these potato pancakes is the result. Of course you could use less oil, but what about no oil? After a few attempts I managed to figure out how to create this oil-free version.
The traditional potato pancakes that I have seen last winter were served with quark, horseradish or apple compote, but spring calls for green peas and a fresh hint of mint.
These potato pancakes are
✓ Oil- free
✓ Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside
✓ Best served freshly baked straight from the oven
I have tried different flours, but not all flours bind these potato pancakes as amazing as chickpeas flour, so my advice for this recipe is to really use chickpeas flour to bind the pancakes.
Are you also a big potato fan? Have you ever tried potato pancakes? Let me know what you think of this recipe on Instagram or Facebook. If you make a picture on Instagram don’t forget to tag #thegreencreator since I’m sharing all of your creations now under the highlights ”recipes you love”.
Grate the potatoes and onion with a food processor fitted with a grating disk or grate the potatoes and onion manually with a grater (medium size).
Place the grated potatoes and onion in a sieve and press the liquid out of the potatoes.
Place the grated potatoes and onion in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas flour, turmeric, fresh parsley, garlic and mustard powder. Mix everything until evenly distributed.
Preheat the oven to 220 Celsius / 428 °F degrees and place parchment paper on a baking tray. You can also use a silicone baking mat instead.
Make 4 equal sizes of burger /pancake shapes, but you can make any shape you wish such as balls or squares. Place on the parchment paper. I used a mold to create the same quantity and size for every potato pancake. You can make smaller or bigger ones if you wish.
Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes lower the oven a bit and bake for another 15 minutes. Check every 5 minutes because they can easily burn (we drained out the water of the potatoes and are not using any oil). Bake until crispy gold brown. You don’t want to over bake them since they will become too crusty and dry.
While the potato pancakes are baking prepare the pea mint dip. To make the pea mint dip, place the peas, yogurt, lemon, mint, salt and pepper in a blender and blend. You could also use a immersion blender for this. Add more yogurt if the dip is too thick to your liking. Set aside.
Serve the potato pancakes warm with the pea mint dip.
Sweet potatoes are considered healthier than the white ones so you could make a mix of sweet- and white potatoes for this recipe.
As you might know I have been eating this oat recipe for the longest time now as my first meal of the day. There is only one smoothie recipe that can replace that without causing some serious fomo (as in ''fear of missing out''). This sweet green amla smoothie is easily one of my favorite smoothie recipes ever. This smoothie doesn't look great, but the taste is amazing and it's packed with so many great ingredients!
This smoothie will provide you with greens, berries, flaxseeds, matcha powder, and even some cinnamon and turmeric with black pepper. You won't taste any of the bitter ingredients! That is what makes this recipe so amazing! Most of the time I wash my greens the night before so in the morning I only need to pop everything in my Vitamix and my smoothie is done in minutes!
You don't have to add amla powder (dried Indian gooseberry), but I find it a great way to add even more antioxidant-rich foods in this smoothie. Dried amla fruit is commonly used in Ayurvedic herbal recipes. Amla is also the subject of hundreds of articles in the medical literature with promising results. You can find this in the form of supplement due to its many health benefits or get the powder form and add it to smoothies such as in this smoothie recipe.
What is your favorite smoothie recipe at the moment? Have you ever tried amla? Let me know what you think of it on Instagram or Facebook. If you make a picture on Instagram don’t forget to tag #thegreencreator since I’m sharing ALL of your creations now under the highlights ''recipes you love”.
The turmeric, black pepper, matcha powder and amla powder together with the greens is what makes this sweet green amla smoothie so amazing. It's full with antioxidant-rich foods, but the taste is sweet because of the berries, banana and date.
I would have never written this article if it wasn’t for all the emails I received in the last years about my Thalassemia. Thank you for everyone who emailed me and entrusted me with their (often) personal story. I feel honored to receive these type of emails, but also a bit nervous to write about it now. I’m not a doctor or a specialist and I really don’t know everything about Thalasemmia minor. What I do know is only a result of my own research and after visiting many specialists (hematologists) throughout my life, because I’m curious and don’t settle for simple answers. I’m also writing this article to create more awareness for this topic as there is not much information out there and doctors don’t really seem to know how to advise their patients who are having tons of questions. The questions I have received so far (just by mentioning Thalassemia on my about page) are mostly about how to get more energy, how to live a healthy life with Thalassemia, what to avoid and how I ''do it'' on a plant-based diet. In this article I will explain how I live my life with Thalassemia minor on a plant-based diet. I hope my story can help others or at least raise some awereness for Thalassemia.
Disclaimer: this is about my story, my body and my experiences. Ok, let's begin.
Wat is Thalassemia minor?
A brief summary of Thalassemia is a lifelong diagnosis of anemia. In this article I'm not going to discuss all types of Thalassemia, but it's good to know that there are different types of Thalassemia that all have a different impact. Very briefly described (for me with Thalassemia minor) this means that I was born with a lifelong diagnosis of anemia that can't be solved like other ''non-Thalassemia'' types of anemia with for example iron supplements.
Thalassemie minor means that you don't have well-formed red blood cells and so you logically have a shortage of healthy red blood cells. The task of healthy red blood cells is to transport nutrients in the body. If your red blood cells are small and deformed, you are not able to absorb nutrients like a healthy person in the same way or in the same quantities. It's also more difficult for your red blood cells to transport enough oxygen to your organs, which makes you feel tired.
There is also a much more severe form of Thalassemia and that is Thalassemia major. That's a totally different ball game and I don't have that. Within Thalassemia minor you have alpha and beta, but in order to keep this article somewhat clear I will only discuss my life with Thalasamia minor.
In practice this means that I will always be a bit more tired and more pale than the average woman of my age (hello forever dark circles under my eyes). Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes my blood (hemoglobin) to produce insufficient and abnormal blood (= hemoglobinopathy). Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying component of our red blood cells. It consists of two different proteins, alpha and beta. If the body doesn't produce enough of one of these two proteins, the red blood cells are insufficiently formed and therefore will not be able to transport enough oxygen in the body since hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that normally transports oxygen to all parts of the body.
Thalassemia patients are born with the disease and there is no cure for it. Thalassemia is not contagious like HIV, but a woman can transfer Thalassemia to her child during her pregnancy. Millions of people worldwide suffer from Thalassemia. Alpha Thalassemia mainly occurs in families that have their roots in South East Asia, India, China or the Philippines. Beta Thalassemia occurs mainly in patients from areas around the Mediterranean Sea (Greece, Italy and the Middle East) or of Asian or African origin.
I was diagnosed at a fairly young age. As a baby I was pale and tired and after a blood test the result was that I was anemic. I was prescribed iron supplements and almost immediately fell ill. Fortunately, my doctor at that time discovered that I had Thalassemia minor and that's how my father found out as an adult that he was the carrier. He never really had any symptoms, but I once read that women suffer more from Thalassemia because of their menstruation. I have never ever taken any iron supplements after that because I know that it will not cure Thalassemia (more on that later).
Furthermore, I was told that this is my DNA, it can't be cured, I can become 100 years old with it, I won't notice anything of this blood disorder since I was born with it and I will not be limited in my daily life. You can't miss what you never had, the doctor said.
Anemia, lifelong anemia. For me personally this is the best way to describe Thalassemia. However, the symptoms of Thalassemia can vary greatly from person to person. During different periods in my life, I had more or no symptoms at all. Some people really only experience mild issues, others much more. Sometimes the symptoms are tiredness and overall weakness. Sometimes I feel great. Sometimes I'm very pale, although I feel fine. I will always have dark circles under my eyes though, no matter how good I feel and sleep. Sometimes I'm a bit lightheaded. Overall this is how I can sum up my symptoms and I don't know any better. I'm not limited (and don't limit myself) in my daily life by Thalassemia minor.
However, if I don't take care of myself I can have more problems with my Thalassemia minor or actually a symptom of it, the anemia. By that I mean that I'll feel a bit more tired and I'll look more pale. I don't have to stay at home or adjust my life for that anymore though (like I had to in the past). If I had a lot of problems with my anemia I would not only feel tired, but I would also be short of breath, weakened, I would faint easily, have muscle pain, cramps and I would be more thirsty. The real symptoms are for the patients with Thalassemia major. Again, that is a whole different ball game. Nonetheless, Thalassemia minor can also be kind of a pain. Especially when I was younger and wanted to join the rest of the world and the ''normal'' people around me and for example wanted to go out night after night... Thalassemia minor is then not that much fun.
It's good to note that chest tightness, hyperventilation, a panicky / nervous feeling and even depression can also be a symptom or rather a result of Thalassemia. I have suffered from hyperventilation for a long time, but if you have anemia it can be difficult to make a distinction here. The symptoms may look alike.
Other symptoms that I don't (hardly) experience anymore are: dull feeling / tingling in the limbs, hair loss, dark urine, thyroid problems, weakened immune system, feeling cold and lightheaded.
I have never had anemia in my life because of an iron deficiency (or even had such thing as an iron deficiency) and luckily I have never taken unnecessarily iron supplements ever again. When doing a routine blood test I mention I have Thalassemia though or I'll get a phone call that I have anemia and need iron supplements (even if my iron levels are good!). The danger of taking iron supplements if you don't have an iron deficiency is an overload of iron in the blood and this is, for example, such a pain with the more serious Thalassemia major. Due to many blood transfusions in major patients an iron accumulation can occur. The body can't get rid of too much iron and the iron quickly accumulates in the already small / deformed red blood cells which can lead to serious complications. I'll say it again ... Thalassemia major is completely different. But also with Thalassemia minor, iron supplements will not help if the anemia is caused by Thalassemia and if there is no iron deficiency.
I was told that Thalassemia major patients died at a relatively young age due to the complications of chronic blood transfusions (especially iron accumulation in the liver and the heart), but this was already quite some years ago. After the introduction and improvement of so-called ''anti-iron therapies'' (chelation therapy), the prognosis for Thalassemia major patients has improved significantly.
I often receive emails from readers asking why they don't feel any better after taking iron supplements. It's important to understand what causes your anemia. Do the necessary blood tests. Do you have an iron deficiency? As you often see in a mild Thalasmia, doctors sometimes confuse the small red blood cells as a sign of anemia due to iron deficiency and incorrectly prescribe iron supplements. The decision to take iron supplements because you have anemia caused by Thalassemia is something you should discuss with your doctor and not something you should decide yourself.
My life with Thalassemia minor
Thalassemia is not curable, but I remember my mother was doing a lot of research to look for something to give me a little bit more energy. As a child, I had much more problems with anemia than now.
For example, for years I have been drinking Floradix (it's also available as a supplement) with the hope that this would make me feel stronger. It's a natural iron supplement that should support the body when feeling fatigued. It's made from natural plants and fruit juices with some vitamins. I can't really say that this helped.
In addition, since the diagnosis of Thalassemia as a baby, for decades I have been taking high doses of folic acid (only available per doctor prescription). I was always very precise with this and never skipped a day. At the moment I stopped (temporary) taking high doses of folic acid.
My life with Thalassemia minor on a plant-based-diet
A lot has changed after all those years. I'm older now and know my body much better. I have been eating quite unhealthy during my years at high school and as a student. I also got infected with a heavy Epstein barr virus (Pfeiffer) and that was of course not very helpful. As a child and student, I was often ill. Tired, dizzy, weakened, depressed and I caught every virus that was going around. On some days I would feel totally drained. I have tried a lot, but what I do now works best for me. I decided it was time to look further and look for answers as to how I could physically feel better with the body and blood I have. I started to focus on unprocessed whole plant-based foods after I already was a vegetarian for some years. I haven't visited a doctor for a while now, but the last time I mentioned my diet the answer was a bit remarkable. He said: "On paper, this is a tricky diet for your blood. Meat should always be a part of your diet, but since you feel so good and your blood results are pretty good (the severe anemia has improved) my advice is: continue with this''. This gave me the impression that my doctor doesn't really know what a good advice is for people like me. I have never doubted or stepped away from my diet ever since. However, I wanted to know what Thalassemia minor really is and if there is anything I need to take into consideration. As such I have visited a few hematologists to get a better understanding of Thalassemia minor. This has led to my current lifestyle and the knowledge that I have at the moment.
This is what helps me, what tips I have received and the advice I have collected from specialists (hematologists) over the years:
I'm absolutely convinced that diet plays an important role in Thalassemia. However, it can be tempting to just not care about nutrition when you have Thalassemia. An overwhelming feeling arises easily where you think: I'll have this forever so I can't do much about it. However, especially with Thalassemia, living a healthy life is important. There is less room to make unhealthy choices without noticing. Nonetheless, the tiredness and often associated thoughts can make you reach out very quickly for something sweet to feel better, to eat it away or to get a boost of energy (even if this is counterproductive). But because I have Thalassemia and have tried for years to deal with this the unhealthy way, I know that healthy eating makes a world of a difference. Especially with Thalassemia it's important to build up a good immune system and to get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. The dietitians and specialists I visited recommended me to eat meat and that was actually the only advice I ever got. This advice never helped me though.
I now pay attention to my diet that is completely whole food plant-based, with a variety of fresh food, I avoid coffee and alcohol and listen to what my body needs. I also make sure that I don't stress too much or too long. This also applies to my diet ... When I eat a vegan cake, I make sure to enjoy it and I don't feel guilty about it. I also don't notice that my body is suddenly much more tired. It's about the overall picture and not about the treat every now and then.
Juices rich in red beets and spinach give me a lot of energy. But also here the same applies: an occasional juice makes no difference, but a routine does.
Gluten & sugar
I know I don't respond very well to gluten. I can eat it, but after a certain number of times there seems to be a turning point where I need to pay the price. A sugar addiction is also something I've struggled with for years. It was an ideal way to mentally and physically get through a certain moment of the day when I would feel sluggish or tired. Someone else might be more likely to grab some coffee or any other stimulating drink to feel better. It's tempting and easy, but it doesn't work in the long run.
My GP always told me that meat is my best friend. I never understood this very well. When I asked why the answer was: iron. The thing is that I never had an iron deficiency and I always made sure to get enough iron from other foods in my diet, because yes it's certainly a good thing to pay attention to your iron intake if you have Thalassemia. In my case, I was advised to eat a lot of meat, such as liver and steak. And I did so for many years, without ever noticing a difference in how I felt or in my blood results. At that time, I was already not a fan of meat at all and I ate it because I had to. My mother often made liver at that time and I remember that I had to force myself to swallow it. Fortunately, there are also other sources of iron. Eating meat is not the only way to supply the body with iron although iron found in meat is easier to absorb by the body.
When I started following a whole food plant-based diet, I luckily noticed a difference. The longer I was eating like this, the better I started to feel. It never made a difference to my body whether I was eating meat or not. I'm not implying that this approach works for everyone and a vegan/vegetarian diet is therefore not a general rule to feel good under this blood condition, but a lot of fresh unprocessed products with lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fibers is what worked for me.
Every day I drink 3 liters (0.80 gallon) of water. This may sound like a lot of water to some, but it helps me tremendously. I may be a little more thirsty than the average person, but I have slowly worked myself up to this amount. Water contains oxygen and it helps the red blood cells to transport nutrients. I once lived on two small glasses of water a day and I literally ended up in the hospital because I felt so extremely bad. I just need a lot of water and I'm grateful that a specialist once told me this. Because of my water intake I feel more energetic and I'm not short of breath. Especially in the morning I really flourish after my first liter of water. It makes a world of a difference.
A Medjool date a day also helps me when I want to feel a bit more energetic without having to reach out for a vegan chocolate bar. It's a natural source of sugar and energy and it also contains some fibers, minerals and vitamins.
Good to know
I have been told by all specialists that a pregnancy is the most normal thing in the world for Thalassemia minor patients (I don't know if this is also the case for Thalassemia major). You will of course need to inform your gynecologist and doctor so they can keep an eye on you with blood tests to be able to intervene if your anemia becomes too severe. A home birth is not recommended since there can always be complications such as too much blood loss. Therefore, giving birth in a hospital with a doctor is the best option.
If your relationship with your partner is becoming more serious, it might be useful to know whether the other person also has Thalassemia (major or minor). This is not a very romantic question and I pesonally only decided to get my husband tested after two years of marriage, but only because he looks nothing like someone with Thalassemia (quite the opposite!). Nevertheless, a test is the only way to figure it out and be certain. Because although Thalassemia is not transmittable betweet people, if you ever decide to have a child with your partner you'll really need to know whether your significant other also has Thalassemia (even if she/he feels fine). Having the wish to become pregnant is no problem if only one partner has Thalassemia, but if both partners have Thalassemia there is a significant chance that the child will be born with Thalassemia major even if you both have minor. I don't know how this can be solved/prevented nowadays, because my partner has no Thalassemia so I never had to worry about this or dig further into it this topic.
I have also been told by specialists that I can't go climb up a mountain. I was told that climbing every high mountain was considered not to be safe, but I was never given any specific information as to which height (I think this can be different for each and every person). If you have Thalassemia you have less oxygen in your blood, which can be quite a problem at high altitudes when there is also little oxygen in the air. This was a bit exciting during certain holidays such as in Switzerland. I'm not taking any big risks and just don't go up too high. If I go up any mountain, I won't be climbing it for hours. Fortunately, I also don't feel the need to do this. Another specialist told me that I can go up a mountain, but not walk for hours/get my heart rate up. I'm not going to try it out and I'm fine with this restriction. If you do want to climb a mountain, I think there is a precautionary framework that you can discuss with your doctor to make this possible.
Funny fact is that many people with Thalassemia have a low heat tolerance and often feel cold (cold hands and feet). I personally don't like hot temperatures, since it makes me feel nervous/restless. So tanning in the sun is not something that I do or enjoy. I prefer a seat in the shade with my cold hands haha.
This is a tricky issue. Doctors are quick to say that all symptoms are normal and that you have to accept it or that you can't actually notice any symptoms because you were born with the fatigue (anemia) and you simply don't know any better. I can agree with this if the fatigue is not too bad. After all, I indeed don't know any better, but if the fatigue is getting worse than I definitely will notice it. Especially when I was in my twenties I suffered from the fatigue, but perhaps also because I had to deal with the aftermath of a severe Epstein-Barr virus. Staying in bed was not an option and also didn't help me either. The fatigue is not a sleepy fatigue, but an overall fatigue. It's quite difficult to explain. The fatigue will be there every day, so you have to push yourself to find the energy for (often) simple everyday tasks. Discipline and determination are then important. In those periods it's even more important to find the time and energy to cook a healthy meal and to go for a walk instead of staying at home on the couch. Accept it and don't worry too much if you fail though. Listen to your body. Rest and acceptance is the only thing that helps. For one peson this may include more sleep and for the other this will mean extra time to relax. If you know for example that the fatigue is worst in the morning and you have difficulties to get going, try to organize your morning in such a way that you have time to prepare for the day. Know where your weakness is and try to adjust your life accordingly.
Just like many other health problems, Thalassemia is also affected by stress. I have certainly noticed a link between increased stress and fatigue, but who doesn't? It's difficult to indicate to what extent this plays a role with fatigue since I never knew any better, but I do notice that after a stressful period I feel the need to take it a bit more easy.
Working out or doing any type of movement at all is probably the last thing on your mind when you feel tired, but it's important. Listen to your body and push yourself mentally if necessary but also take a step back if necessary. Plan an easy day. Walk instead of jog. Take a nap. Taking it easy is really not the end of the world and I usually feel so much better afterwards! Especially because I no longer feel guilty about it. Just to give you a bettter picture: I take about 4 times a year an ''emergency ''afternoon nap haha. But I no longer feel guilty about it as I did before.
I don't do things that exhaust me too much. You probably won't see me doing Crossfit any day, but I do work out 6 times a week in my own way. But everyone is different. A specialist once told me that I'm not a suitable candidate for endurance sports, but that is exactly what I love to do and what I'm good at. So I think this approach is different for everyone and you'll need to try out which activity makes you happy and what you love to do.
Don't be too hard on yourself
The fatigue is different for everyone, but it's there. So don't be too hard on yourself. Many people feel depressed and incapable when the symptoms are bad. If you often feel tired, it's quite a normal thing that you don't feel great about yourself. You feel that you fail or that you can't join society at the same pace as others do. You feel lazy and not productive and for some people..
For the last two years (!) I have been addicted to this crispy raspberry oats recipe. This is a recipe that I gradually created by adding one ingredient after the other until I had a perfect sweet crispy oat porridge with a hint of sourness from the raspberries. I'm slowly trying to change my first meal of the day though. I really want to experiment a bit more with breakfast recipes and not be ''stuck'' with this one forever. As a foodblogger and food photographer I think changing things up is key to staying creative too.
The book ''Healing with Whole Foods'' is a book that I pick up from time to time and that always seems to leave me with new knowledge on certain foods. I was curious to know what traditional Chinese medicine had to say about this crispy raspberry oats recipe and then especially about the raspberries. While in Western medicine raspberries are generally known as an antioxidant, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, in traditional Chinese medicine raspberries are considered to have sweet and warm properties. They are associated with the liver and kidney meridians and tonify and stabilize the kidneys to preserve vital energy. Raspberries are used to treat cases of liver and kidney deficiency. Interesting...
As I'm writing this I still didn't manage to change my breakfast routine and I still make this recipe every day. I have some hope that once spring kicks in, I will no longer crave this breakfast recipe (although last year this wasn't the case..). Oh well, not really a first world problem, right?
I hope you will give this oat recipe a try and don't blame me if you get addicted too. Just let me know what you think of it on Instagram or Facebook. If you make a picture on Instagram don’t forget to tag #thegreencreator since I’m sharing ALL of your creations now under the highlights ”recipes you love”.
This crispy raspberry oats is an easy and delicious oat porridge that feels like dessert. The combination of the crispy almond flakes and cacao nibs with the sweet and sour raspberries is a true winner.
Author: The Green Creator
Recipe type: breakfast, porridge
Cuisine: vegan, plantbased, glutenfree
Equal amounts of water and rolled oats. I use about ½ cup (60 gr) rolled oats
Place the oats in a steel cut pan and add water. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer until all water is absorbed. Add the frozen raspberries and stir well. When they soften up a bit add the cacao nibs and slivered almonds. Stir. Don’t let the raspberries boil, because this recipe is nice with whole raspberries instead of overcooked raspberries. Add a good splash of almond milk and let this milk warm up (not boil). Serve. You can also make the overnight version. Add all the ingredients in a mason jar and take with you the next day on the go.
Have you ever combined chickpeas with dill and nori? When I made this recipe the first time I thought this would most likely not be a recipe that I would make ever again. I was wrong. This recipe turns out to be a super fast and nourishing snack or side dish and I have already made it several times. I can't believe how simple and tasty this chickpeas nori salad with dill is with only a few whole food plant-based ingredients.
This salad is a delicious snack, small lunch or a great side dish. I personally like it most as a savory snack.
I love the taste of the raw onion in this recipe, but if that's not your cup of tea feel free to leave the raw onion out of this salad or replace it with a sweet onion or spring onion. The raw onion however in combination with the crunchiness of the nori (read more about seaweed and iodine here) is amazing. Oh, and the dill is taste wise just a total surprise and not something I normally use in recipes with nori, but oh so delicious!
I hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know what you think of this snack/salad/side dish on Instagram or Facebook. If you make a picture on Instagram don't forget to tag #thegreencreator since I'm sharing ALL of your creations now under the highlights ''recipes you love''.
I have been eating the same oatmeal porridge for breakfast for way too long. Not just oatmeal with almond milk. No, it's exactly the same recipe with the same ingredients in the same quantities each and every morning (I will share the recipe soon). There is nothing wrong with oatmeal, but after a while I'm ready for a change. I vary with buckwheat porridges, chia puddings, extra large smoothie bowls or recipes with millet. And now Valentine's Day is right around the corner, I grabbed this opportunity to share my love for raspberries with you. Raspberries in combination with chocolate sauce is so romantic! This SUPER easy (it looks difficult, but it's really not) raspberry pudding with chocolate sauce is the end result and I'm super happy to share it with you today.
I experimented with a millet recipe before and by coincidence I discovered that if you cook millet too long it quickly adopts a puddinglike consistency. Add a bit of ground flaxseeds and place the millet in the fridge and in no-time you'll have a pudding ready to be served. Perfect to make the day before and to serve for breakfast.
For Valentine's Day it's great to go out for dinner, but personally I think a cozy breakfast at home is just as delicious and romantic. This recipe is very suitable for this. If you still want to make this pudding after Valentine's Day (which I can imagine), then I can recommend the following variations:
✓ warm pear with hot chocolate sauce and roasted walnuts
✓ strawberries with vanilla
✓ apricots with pistachio nuts
If you are going to make this recipe or if you are going to make this millet pudding with a variation, I would like to see it! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comment section below or on Facebook or Instagram. Oh and don’t forget to tag your picture with #thegreencreator on Instagram.
2-3 tablespoons xylitol (or another sweetener such as date syrup: a banana can also sweeten up this pudding)
1 tablespoon lemon- or lime juice
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE:
2 teaspoons cacao powder
2 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon date syrup / pasta (add more to taste)
FOR THE PUDDING:
Rinse the millet well under running water. Place in a pan with about 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat so that the millet can cook a little longer. Add a little bit of water and reduce the heat if the millet dries too quickly or sticks to the bottom. Make sure no to add too much water as you want to create a thick porridge. After 10 minutes add the (frozen) raspberries, xylitol and lemon juice. Stir all raspberries through the millet until they are all mashed. Cook for 20 minutes at low temperature so that the millet can thicken up and bind. Make sure you stir everything thoroughly so that you have a smooth pudding.
Stir in the ground flaxseeds and let the millet cool off.
When the millet has cooled off for about 20 minutes place the millet in a glass or bowl. I used little glasses to create a pudding form. Put the millet for an hour (or overnight) in the fridge. To serve keep the glass upside down and shake to loosen up the millet. Run a sandwich knife along the sides of the glass to help the pudding slide down.
You can also serve this pudding in the glass itself.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a spoon.
Serve the pudding with chocolate sauce.
You can serve this pudding as a cold pudding, but warm from a glass or a bowl is also delicious!
The idea to write this article started already a year ago. To say I feel hesitant writing this is an understatement. I don’t want to come across too hard or too judgmental so consider this article as very personal. Maybe you have the same opinion and experiences or maybe not. I would love to know. I hoped that this topic would get easier the longer I eat a fully plant-based diet, but it’s not getting easier and therefore I decided to write this article. I often feel excluded in ''the vegan movement'' and wonder: is there a place for plant-based foodies in the vegan movement?
If you wonder what the difference is between a vegan and a plant-based foodie I can recommend this article. It basically comes down to the fact that vegans are vegan probably for ethical reasons and they live a vegan lifestyle as well (no animal food, clothing, supplements and so on) and plant-based foodies are avoiding animal products in their diet mainly for health reasons. This is a big generalization or is it not?
I feel excluded
Only after many years as a whole food plant-based foodie I came to learn that vegans can make a little mistake (whether that may be accidental or not). You buy a supplement and it turns out not to be vegan and decide to use it anyway. You go out for dinner and you're told the dessert is vegan, which later on seems not to be true. Does that make a person less of a vegan? Not in my opinion. But the difference with the ''issue'' I’m dealing with is that it’s not so visible. As long as you don’t tell the world, you can be a perfect vegan.
Me: the whole food plan-based foodie
I don’t know how to really describe this. What people say (and think) about me in particular. I took the above picture two summers ago and I remember I said: ''I can’t post this. I have too many vegan followers so I can’t post it!'' Yes, my shoes are vegan, but the jacket! It’s a 20 year old non-vegan jacket that I will never toss or sell because it has some sentimental value to me, but I can’t share it with my followers. So that’s me in that picture, but I can’t share it. I can't share who I am and what I wear, because I will be judged for it. The stress about not disappointing my vegan followers and readers is always there. I keep saying I’m trying to be fully vegan in my lifestyle too, but at the moment I’m not there yet. I eat 100% vegan and plant-based ALL THE TIME though (you see, I’m explaining myself again..) yet I can't fully be myself because I'm not the embodiment of a perfect vegan.
When I fail to try to be a vegan, it's rather easy to notice. When a vegan who looks like a vegan from the ouside, but fails in the area of nutrition, it's not so visible and easy to hide, don't you think?
I have been asked many times at a food/bloggers event (not even a vegan event) whether my shoes are real or fake leather. Oh and what about that awesome fake leather winter jacket that I love, but which looks too real to wear! As a result I have changed for example my bag so many times into a linen shopping bag for a certain event. Just to be on the safe side. The stress of letting people down or not meeting up to certain expectations they have when meeting me is pretty big. The result is that I can’t fully be myself. And I wish that was different. I wish that at my age I don't have this hassle with my outfits, my overall identity and how I like to present myself. I wish we could judge each other less.
I'm not a bad person or a bad vegan, because my closet is not fully vegan (yet). Nor am I against vegans! Everything I eat is vegan. Do vegans always eat vegan?
This is also why I always try to make sure that I'm not forcing my plant-based opinion to someone else. The evidence and the studies are all out there nowadays. We can all do our own research. If you consciously decide to eat one vegan meal per week or per day, I can only applaud that. Who am I to judge that this is too little? However, if you ask me about the reasons why I eat a whole food plant-based diet, I'm more than happy to explain.
Is there a place for plant-based foodies in the vegan movement?
Wouldn't it be great if we all could just appreciate all the efforts all these different types of vegans and plant-based foodies make? All (little) efforts put together can change the world and the future of our planet. So let’s focus on that, instead of pondering whether someone can still refer to him- or herself as a vegan because the glue in his/her vegan shoes is not vegan.
While we're at it, maybe we can also let go of the idea that whole food plant-based foodies only eat greens all day and don't think much of a not so healthy vegan recipe? Or the idea that plant-based foodies are just ''fake vegans'' who don't care about animals, but only about their own health.
I’m doing the best I can to live a vegan lifetsyle as well, however I'm not a typical ethical vegan (although I probably love animals more than humans haha) and I'm honest about that. Yet sometimes I feel excluded in the vegan movement. I think the best way to go about it is to care less about people judging, which is hard. Very hard.
Let's shine a light at the other side of it. Because it seems non-vegans and whole food plant-based foodies are also judging ethical vegans. Here are some examples:
Does that vegan granola contain honey?
Certain processed food items contain E-numbers that are not vegan.
Not all alcohol is vegan.
Is your makeup brush vegan?
Are your bedspread, pillows and comforters made of down?
Smoking? Cigarettes are often filtered using animal bi-products.
Most glues (your kids play with or you vegan shoes are made of) are not animal-friendly, as they are made from connective tissue of cattle and horses.
Many cleaning products are not vegan, either made using animal by-products or tested on animals.
Most candles are not vegan.
Condoms are not vegan. Most condoms are made from latex. To make latex smooth, the milk derivative casein is used in manufacturing.
Juices and some other drinks, which are fortified with vitamin D (great for vegans) are actually not vegan. The vitamin D might come from lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool.
You get my point. If you search long enough, it could be well possible to criticize all kinds of vegans and plant-based foodies. If a vegan drinks a non-vegan wine once in a while, does that make him/her less vegan? If a plant-based foodie eats a processed vegan cake, does that make him/her a vegan?
It’s about the efforts and the conscious choices we make in our lives, while trying to also live a life as normal as possible.
I hope that if you ever thought I was less of a vegan than ''a real vegan'' this article will change your opinion a bit. I may or may not look like a plant-based foodie who only cares about her own health (you can tell this comment hurted me haha), but I hope you'll think beyond how I look. I can tell you that I mostly wear old non-vegan clothing and that I hardly ever buy anything new made from animals, but to be accepted that should not really matter, right?
So is there a place for plant-based foodies in the vegan movement? I think there should be. I think anyone who even is considering eating less animal products should have a place in the vegan movement too. Different people, different lives, different motives, but all doing what we can and want to our own abilities. Let us make room for all, shall we?
If you love cinnamon rolls, you will love this smoothie recipe! I had an amazing vegan cinnamon roll in New York that inspired me to make a smoothie flavored just like that cinnamon roll. This one is not so crazy loaded with calories and sugar as the vegan treat I had, but equally delicious if you ask me.
This cinnamon roll smoothie could not be easier to make. You just add all of the ingredients to a blender (or food processor) and blend until smooth. It helps if you have a more powerful blender, like a Vitamix, but a less powerful blender will work just fine if you add a bit more milk.
I added a sprinkle of cinnamon as a topping for a little boost of flavor. This smoothie is so creamy, smooth, and so delicious. And it tastes like dessert!
Lately, I have been sharing more and more of my food photography on Instagram. You can find all the stories under ''highlights'' (not just for 24 hours), which was the motivation for me to share more tips. I also asked you guys which picture you like best in my Instagram stories: this smoothie recipe served in a glass or in a bowl? The smoothie in a glass was the winner of the poll, but I enjoyed the smoothie also in a bowl with a spoon (as shown below). How do you like to serve a thick smoothie?
In December we eat all the chocolate and vegan junkfood and in January we crave simple green foods again, right? Someone on Instagram said: ''I crave green food after all the brown food I haven eaten last month''. I ate pretty well this winter (so far), but I do crave more simple food too. Since spring is still pretty far away (it's still so cold!) a light salad won't do for me. This spinach salad with pickled red bell peppers is half summer and half winter on a plate.
This salad is fresh and the dressing is perfect for a dark leafy green such as spinach. The buckwheat and pickled peppers give this salad a little bit of a bite and flavor.
These are home-made bell pepper pickles and trust me when I say that it's really simple to make. You can hardly call it a recipe. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law. Last Christmas she gave us four jars to bring back home. Only one jar was left at the end of the holiday. It's so delicious! At home I made a batch myself and added them into my salads for the rest of the week.
You can keep the pickled bell peppers for some weeks in the fridge. The taste will only improve and the longer you ''pickle'' them the softer they'll get. I really love the soft red bell peppers. They remind me a bit of this recipefor roasted peppers, but so much easier and faster to make. My advice? Make a bit more and use it in various ways in your recipes such as in salads and on sandwiches.
1.5 cups / 255 gr cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained from a glass jar
half a cup (110 grams) buckwheat
one red onion, diced
90 gr fresh spinach, washed and cut in strips
For the dressing:
3 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp maple syrup or date syrup
pinch of ground black pepper
salt to taste (optional)
2-3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (amount depends on desired consistency)
For the pickled red bell peppers (this makes a bit more):
3 red bell peper
one jar filled ¾ with apple cider vinegar
1-2 peeled garlic cloves
1 whole clove
a pinch of sea salt
½ tsp mustard seeds
half of a small white onion
Start by adding all the ingredients for the pickled red bell peppers in a jar and let sit for at least one hour. The longer you will let them pickle, the tastier and softer the peppers will get.
For the salad:
Cook the buckwheat according to package instructions and set aside.
Wash the spinach and cut in strips. Add to a bowl. Rinse and drain the cooked chickpeas (if from a glass jar) and add the cooked chickpeas to the spinach. Along with the diced onion and a few tablespoons of cooked buckwheat. Cut one to two pickled red bell peppers in cubes and add to the salad.
For the dressing:
Combine all ingredients in a small blender or in a glass and blend/whisk together until smooth.
Serve the salad with more dressing and buckwheat on the side.