Year of wellbeing

Did you make any promises to yourself on New Years? What I’ve learned from last year is to make realistic plans, and that life style changes take a lot of time. Last New Years Eve I said that I would drop my body fat down to 4-10%. This definitely didn’t happened and now I was a bit wiser and more realistic. I have set few fitness goals and also thinking ways to improve my general health, but don’t have any specific goals and it’s better this way.

Do you ever feel when you have a number or specific day that you have more pressure to achieve something? And are you more likely to fail? I definitely feel that way. Do your best and remember to enjoy life. Long term goals are the best and usually better for your health all together. There are so many diets for example where you lose 5-10 kg within X amount of time, but the thing is that if you’re not changing your lifestyle or bad habits, those kilograms are going to come back and all that hard work was for nothing.

“You are what you eat”, wouldn’t say this is entirely true but our food diet has the biggest impact on our health, how we feel physically and mentally, as well how we look. Easiest way to control my weight has been plant-based diet. I’m not saying that everyone should go vegan because it doesn’t work like that, but by eating more veg and cutting meat intake you will feel and see a difference in your body after few weeks. I went to see a doctor few weeks ago and she said well to “eat all the colours of the rainbow”, something we should all remember.

I got so many plans for this year, but haven’t taken the time to sit down and write them down. Sometimes it’s good to write things down, they feel more real for some reason. Have you thought about yours yet, what would you like to achieve 2019?

I want to make this year the best one yet.

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One of those rainy winter weekends in Brighton – I wanted to go for a run this morning despite the rain and 5 degrees celsius… I still sometimes make excuses to myself so that I wouldn’t go, but that’s ok we all do that. You would much rather stay in bed with your morning coffee and watch your favourite show right? And you know sometimes you need to do that as well, I love my coffee and Gilmore Girls on a Saturday morning!

 

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Anyways I went for run and really happy I did. My mind felt so much clearer and body energised. It’s really hard to describe the feeling – you have to go and experience it yourself. My new favourite thing to listen on my run is a nutrition podcasts. It takes my mind out of the physical performance and teaches me stuff at the same time. So I learn and improve my fitness, how great is this!

 

After my run and a smoothie we went to grab some brekkie with my boyfriend’s family and I was happily surprised about the place! The cafe is in Brighton and it was called the Edendum. Great coffee and food – if you know me you know how much I drink and love coffee. Will need to go back to do some more research on this… Delicious food and really friendly staff. Perfect lunch.

 

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This place is not far from my day job so they’re gonna see me soon hehe!

I also wanted to show you guys what I posted on Instagram yesterday. For the first time I tried these sweet potato slices and they turned out great. Sliced sweet potato with olive oil, coconut cheese, jalapeno, and herbs – yum! If you’re vegetarian, option to have them with cheddar instead of coconut cheese. Perfect party snack!

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I am currently doing a dry Jan, that is pretty boring btw! But if you are too, or just not into drinking that much this SeedLip non-alcoholic spirit tastes like Gin – great alternative. Go and check out their website https://seedlipdrinks.com/

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

thevegescandi x

 

Finnish style Cabbage Rolls

One of my childhood favourites was my Isoäiti’s (Grandma’s) cabbage rolls and now being a plant-based eater, I wanted to take the challenge on and create my own version of them as close to the flavour that I can remember. The challenge in this case was the fact that grandma uses beef mince as the main ingredient. Soy sauce and balsamic vinegar are two main ingredients that I use to create “salty meat” flavours. I would say, that if you are a vegan or vegetarian that doesn’t like the flavour of meat or anything that reminds you of meat – this recipe is not for you. Cabbages are in season in the summer, so save this recipe for later as well!

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History doesn’t tell us where cabbage rolls originally came from, but there are trades in Jewish cooking around 2000 years ago. Also some of the first recipes came from Romania and the North Pole. In Sweden and Finland the traditional cabbage rolls are eaten with cranberry sauce and boiled potatoes. I am not a big fan of boiled potatoes so I served the cabbage rolls only with cranberry sauce.

So how can you make these delicious vegan version, Nordic rolls at home?

For this recipe you will need:

  • Fan oven
  • Large oven tray
  • Foil
  • Large pot
  • Small pot
  • Large pan
  • Scale
  • Colander

INGREDIENT:

  • 1 Savoy Cabbage
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Vegetable stock cube

Filling:

  • 100 g Pearl Barley
  • 50 g Red Lentils
  • 300 g of Quorn Mince
  • 125 g Chestnut Mushrooms
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 White Onion
  • 4 tbsp of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp/ 10 Sprays of Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tsp of Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp of Paprika
  • 1 tbsp of Marjoram
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 tsp of Pepper

METHOD STEP BY STEP:

You want to start by removing the hard stem of the cabbage to make the cooking process quicker. See picture below. Add cabbage into the large pot and boil for 10-15mins.

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You don’t want to over cook the cabbage because the leaves will break later on when you’re trying to roll them up. Once this is done, place the pot to the side to cool down and save some of the boiled cabbage water as we’re going to need it later on.

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Rinse out the pearl barley and place in the smaller pot. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 25mins. After 15mins of cooking the barley, add red lentils into the boiling water. Remember to stir. After 25 minutes, drain the water and set aside.

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Finely cut the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Add onions and garlic into a large pan with some olive oil. Cook until golden brown and add Quorn mince and mushrooms into the pan. The Quorn mince that I used was frozen so I cooked for approx 5mins before adding any spices. Add all the rest of the filling ingredients herbs and spices to your mix and cook on a low heat until you are happy with the flavour. Stir in the pearl barley and red lentils, cooking for another 5mins.

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 The mix feels quite dry at this point but remember that the cabbage rolls will be cooking in water so we don’t want to make the filling too wet at this stage.

Pour some olive oil into a large oven tray and spread it all over with kitchen towel or a baking brush.

And now we need to start rolling…

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You want to cut the end of those leaves off so it’s easier to roll. Place some mix on top of the leaf as shown in the picture above.

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Once you have finished rolling, pour some of the cabbage water on top of the cabbage rolls and place the dish into the oven for 10 minutes in 225 celsius. While the cabbage rolls are cooking in the oven, boil some water in a kettle and pour this into a bowl and add the vegetable stock cube. Mix well with a fork.

Take out the tray and pour this vegetable stock water on top of the cabbage rolls so that the bottom of the tray has liquid all over.

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Use the tin foil from earlier to cover up the tray and place it back to the oven. Cook the dish another 30 – 45 mins in lower heat at 175 celsius.

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Serve with cranberry sauce and enjoy!

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thevegescandi x

Glazed Doughnuts

Was I the happiest girl today – I found a vegan doughnut cafe in Brighton and really close to my work. The cafe is called Glazed and it’s next to the Level Park. There aren’t many doughnut cafes around and specially not vegan ones, so this is super!

The Cafe has such a nice vibe – few tables and laid back atmosphere. You can have a cup of coffee and play some Nintendo, perfect spot to meet up with your friends and try some doughnuts after work.

The shop has two owners and I was lucky enough to meet one of them briefly today. They opened Glazed about three years ago. They felt that Brighton didn’t have any great places for doughnuts even though it was famous for them. They started practising and creating their own recipes and Glazed was born. The reason for specifically vegan doughnuts were to reach out for me people and make the cafe environmentally friendly. All the coffee is served with plant-based milk and the doughnuts are 100% vegan- the dream!

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This time around I got some take-away doughnuts as I needed to rush home, but can confirm the rumours – these are great doughnuts! And they have got really good selection of flavours in the shop but get there early as they sell out quick.

All the goodness we got to enjoy today…

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Next time you are in Brighton and on the hunt for something sweet, go and check these guys out!

You can find Glazed also on Instagram: @Glazed_Coffee

thevegescandi x

 

Helsinki, Finland

One part of our holiday was to visit Helsinki, the capital of Finland. I used to live in Helsinki the last few years before moving to New Zealand and it was so lovely to be back in town. The city is full of great food, art, interior design and the list goes on. Food and drinks are quite expensive but if you’re looking for some Scandi-inspiration, go and visit Helsinki.

I’m really lucky to have friends in Helsinki, but there is also decent price hotels in central. Year ago I stayed at Omena Hotelli Kamppi – really central and great value for your money. Nice, clean and modern rooms for about 70 EUR per night.

This time we stayed with Friends in-between Punavuori and Kaartinkaupunki, really lovely area – quite posh… You will find a lot of designer shops and art. Our friend described the area, being full of antic shops and older ladies with their poodles haha! To be fair I didn’t see any.

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All the snow was pretty much melted, saying that we had some snow on the first day in.  All the roads are heavily salted because of the ice so people wouldn’t fell down all the time and cars crash into each other. Can get really dangerous! Once a year you would fell down and break something, and this was more of a rule than exception!  Just part of living in a cold country I suppose. One of things not to miss after moving abroad.

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So it was Friday night and we wanted to explore some food, what Helsinki has to offer? Went to this really nice pizzeria called Putte’s Bar & Pizza with these two handsome guys. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture to show you but I had a pizza with mozzarella, blue cheese and walnuts – insane! Great vegetarian options. The walnuts were whole and felt like a substitute for meat.  We didn’t need to wait for long and all their staff was friendly, can really recommend this place in Helsinki. They had some cool posters and pop-up art on the walls.

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After having some food and wine we did a nice walk around the city. I won’t go too much into details but I took few pictures to show you. Our visit was in December and temperatures around -10 degrees in Helsinki. Such a beautiful city at night-time.

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I had the best holiday! Was so lovely to see friends and family. And luckily – this time it won’t be too long until my next trip…

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thevegescandi x

Vegan Mushroom Wellington

Wellington is originally from Ireland, so this isn’t really a Scandinavian dish but I’ve always wanted to create my own version of it. What makes your Christmas? For me it’s always been pastries, heavier food and wine… Have chocolate for breakfast, who cares it’s Christmas right??

It was so exciting to go to a supermarket in Finland, as funny as this may sound… Something I have in common with my boyfriend is that we both love supermarkets. I’ve really started to love food shopping and this time we had a chance to do this in Finland. There is so many options and brands for vegetarians as well for vegans. Earth Control is a great Nordic brand for snacking or cooking, healthy and delicious! I wanted to give the Wellington a Christmassy flavour by using Earth Control’s Salad Mix with nuts and dried fruit. This way you get protein and natural sweetness.

If you live in Finland, Sweden or Denmark go and check out their product selection. Hopefully the business will expand and this way we’ll get their products to the UK too.

 Link to Earth Control’s website

 

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Veggie Wellington is pretty easy dish when you’ve got the right ingredients and the right puff pastry. There are many versions out there, but here is mine.

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FILLING:

Olive Oil

400g Chestnut Mushrooms



2 Garlic Cloves



1 Red Onion



200g Mix of Fruit and Nuts – Earth Control

100g of Red Organic Lentils

1 Sweet Red Pepper



Chopped Chive

Dried garlic

Black pepper

Sea Salt

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Puff Pastry

Oat/Soy Cream

 

METHOD:

Start by getting your puff pastry out so it can get to room temperature, so it’s easier to roll. Next heat up your oven to 225 degrees celsius. Dice your mushrooms, onion, garlic, sweet pepper and chive. Blend all the nuts and fruit in a blender. Add some olive oil into a large pan, adding the onion and garlic. Once they turn golden brown, add all the rest of the ingredients for the filling. Leave the mix to cool down before adding into the pastry. While your filling is cooling down, take some baking paper and on top of it roll the puff pastry so t’s a little thinner and a bit wider. Place your filling in the middle of one half of the pastry, so you can roll it over and then fold under both ends. Gently make few cuts on top of your pastry and brush the top with oat or soy cream. Place your dish in to the middle section of your oven for 30min until golden brown. This really depends on your oven, so keep an eye on your tray. Let to cool down and decorate with chopped chive.

 

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Next one I’m going to try is with Spinach and vegan cheese! Such a great Sunday comfort food. PS. Try your Vegan Wellington with mustard… So tasty!

All images taken by jonnahelinphotography

thevegescandi x

 

 

Christmas in Finland

This year was really special for me, I had the opportunity to spent Christmas eve with my family and this weekend have another Christmas in the UK with my boyfriend’s family. In Finland everything was covered in snow and the coldest we experienced this year was -19 degrees!! So cold… It was so beautiful and special as unfortunately you forget after living abroad for so long. When I was younger and still living back home I didn’t appreciate things like I do now. A very good friend of mine said a few days ago, “you need to look very far to be able to see very close”.

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I was planning to write and post pictures whilst I was in Finland but we didn’t have good internet so I decided to just enjoy the time off, not worry about social media and share bits with you later. I am sitting in a plane back to London right now. Flying makes me really nervous so this is a great way to distract from it.

We started our holiday from Gatwick last Saturday. If you are looking for a bigger snack, lunch or dinner and you are a veggie eater, they have got great options for vegans and vegetarians at Wagamama’s. I had Vegan Pad Thai with tofu and a pineapple & spinach smoothie. So tasty and 100% plant-based!

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After landing on Saturday we drove to Lahti, which is a small skiing town where I’m from, about 150km North from Helsinki. I went to see some old friends the next morning and had the best homemade ginger bread cookies! My friend’s daughters baked these a few nights before, the cutest little girls! I’m really looking forward to having a Christmas one day with my own kids, it will be really special in a different way. It’s always so nice to see old friends happy and well. I think it was -12 degrees on that Sunday and I felt like that 10-year-old again. Walking around in the same neighbourhood where I grew up, listening the snow crunching underneath my feet and feeling the cold air in my lungs.

The older I get, the more I’ve realised how important it’s to have those little moments on your own. Don’t get me wrong it’s so lovely to share moments with your other half or your best friend but sometimes it’s good to do things on your own, not talk to anyone or be on your phone, just experience what’s around you and live in the moment.

Before heading out to Hartola for Christmas Eve, we decided to visit the harbour in Lahti. It was freezing cold, but so beautiful. It feels so special to be able to share things like this with my boyfriend for the first time, temperatures and places where I spent most of my time growing up.

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We got to the cottage later on that evening. At this time of the year, our little cottage in Hartola is surrounded by deep forest and a frozen river. I have needed a holiday for a long time so it was really nice to get there. Our Christmases are about spending time with the family, Sauna, Disney classics and eating great food.

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Christmas Eve was an absolute gem!

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Where did you spent your Christmas this year?

thevegescandi x

Motivation or Discipline?

Happy weekend everyone! Just having my morning coffee in my pyjamas, favourite bit of the week. No need to rush anywhere and I can start planning what we’ll have for breakfast. Our Saturdays are all about food, chilling and occasionally going out with friends.

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Yesterday I finished work at 11am. Fridays I only work for three hours so I can get other things done. I’m feeling really happy that it worked out so well as I think it’s so important to have the right work personal life balance and my own time to be creative.

After having lunch at home, I ended up watching The Holiday (great christmas film if you haven’t seen it yet, put it on your list). In the morning I was planning to come home after work, eat, go for a run, cook food that I can share here with you – do all these things, be productive, but after coming home I started feeling super lazy. Thinking, it’s just not happening. These days we all are busy with different stuff and I think it’s so important to take that time to yourself when ever you can, for me that was a movie on my own. Get up earlier when everyone else is still sleeping so you have the time just for yourself or be on your own for an hour in the evening. Do a face mask, eat something you love, do yoga, whatever suits you the best and makes you feel good about yourself. Take the time to recharge.

I ate, watched the movie and thought I should go for a run, because I will feel better if I do it. This is when I started thinking about the word “motivation”, what is motivation? If I think about exercising, it makes me feel great but it all comes down to self-discipline not being motivated to be fit. Fitness and other benefits happens way later. I have days, almost everyday when I feel like I have to push myself to go for a run or to the gym, but I do it to feel healthier and to release the endorphins, that make you feel the best! Exercise effects so much on your physical and mental health, and it took me years to realise it.

So many people judge, if you share how exercising makes you feel and this probably comes down to the fact that these people can’t be arsed to exercise themselves. But you should never feel bad about being healthier and going through all that hard work. Exercising is really hard some days, fun other days. Remember that most of us would love to sleep in, or go to the pub instead of the gym. We are all human, no one’s perfect.

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I felt really lucky yesterday to run with these views. Absolutely love living on the coast. We have been here almost two years now, hard to imagine living anywhere else. If you ever ask yourself, should I go and exercise, just do it!  Do it for yourself. It has taken me two years to fall in love with exercise and still find it hard some days.

Motivation or discipline, definitely self-discipline!

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thevegescandi

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

My first go with sweet potato gnocchi – not perfect and needs improving, but it’s tasty! Gnocchi has simple ingredients, you’ll only need some flour and baked sweet potatoes. I saw an episode of Jamie’s 15 minute meals and thought “that looks fun!”

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I wanted to make tonight’s dinner vegan, so I used milk-free butter and coconut based cheese. Before sharing this recipe for gnocchi, I want to make it perfect. The only way to keep improving and to make something taste amazing is by practising, and I need lots of practicing! Make something, think how to improve it and what flavours to add-on it. we’re all learning all the time. The best feeling when you nail it!

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Stem Broccoli 

Spinach

Pine Nuts

Lemons

Garlic

Onion

Milk Free Butter

Vegan Cheese

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thevegescandi

Are you getting excited for Christmas?

Where are you spending christmas this year? I am starting to get pretty excited about the holiday season.. I am off to Finland on the 22nd for a white christmas, escaping the rain in the UK. We always have christmas feast, but this year is going be a bit different for me. I tried to explain my grandparents, that I don’t eat meat and they seem not to get it at all haha. “What do you mean you don’t eat any ham?”

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I will have to do a big christmas shop in the local supermarket after arriving and plan my recipes beforehand. Lots of people have told me that Finland currently has a great selection of vegetarian and vegan products, really looking forward to do some shopping there.

Can’t wait to be in the middle of the woods and cook, listen to christmas songs and of course wear pyjamas all day! And have REAL Sauna… If you know any Finnish people, you do know we are obsessed with saunas. There is not really any other way of explaining it, other than it’s the best thing in the world. Great place to socialize and it’s really good for your circulation, specially if you are doing the old-fashioned, running from 120 degrees Sauna to outside and role in the snow! You feel so much tingling through out your whole body, really hard to describe that otherwise. Following sauna a glass of Glögi – similar to mulled wine. Finnish version is spiced liquor with cloves, cinnamon and ginger, will share more about this in few weeks.

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I have always loved christmas, even now I know it’s a really commercial holiday and bad for our environment but I still love it. Sharing, being with the people you love the most, having the time off work and just relaxing.. I will take my camera and laptop with me so I can share all about it this year.

What’s your favourite thing about christmas?

thevegescandi

 

Vanilla Cheese Cake – Finland 101 years

This year I decided to make a plant-based cheese cake with roasted almonds, vanilla and lemon for Finland’s independence day. I am not a great baker so cheese cake was the easiest choice! Getting more practice and confidence, one day I can hopefully claim to be a great baker hahah. If you’ve just started exploring cooking or baking this recipe is perfect and really easy.

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Finland has been celebrating their independence from Russia since 1917. We would normally watch the independence parade and president’s annual ball on tv, spending time with the people you love the most. This year I invited few friends around to have some coffees and cake, was a really nice night – almost felt like being back in Finland.

Last year Aku Louhimies directed a film called the Unknown Soldier, if you would like to know more about Finnish history, it’s a great film to watch!

Check out the trailer here

For this recipe you will need a Springform Pan, food processor, greaseproof paper, sauce pan and ingredients listed below.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE BASE:

200g of Doves Farm Organic Wholewheat Digestive Biscuits (vegan)

50g vegan butter

150-200g of Almonds

2 tbsp of Maple Syrup

Pinch of Salt

1 tsp of Vanilla Extract

FOR THE FILLING:

350g of Soy Based Cream Cheese

50g of soft Almond Cheese

3/4 cup of Granulated Sugar

1 Vanilla Pod

2 Lemons and Lemon Zest

Almond milk (optional)

Half a tbsp of Clearspring AGAR flakes

FOR THE TOP, DECORATION:

Blueberries

Vanilla Pod

METHOD

Start by heating your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roasting the almonds – Lay them on a baking tray on top of greaseproof paper and bake for 10min flipping over half way. While your almonds are roasting in the oven, blend your cookies in the food blender with melted vegan butter and set aside. When you take the almonds out of the oven you’ll have the most delicious smells in your kitchen! Add your almonds into the food processor and blend until smooth, this will take some time.. When I did it, the almonds were sticking into the sides so I needed to scrape the bowl and blend again, repeating few times. Once your almonds are looking pretty smooth, add the rest of the base ingredients into the mix.

Cover your springform pan with greaseproof paper and lay your cookie base mix into the bottom of your springform pan pressing firmly. Make sure the mix is spread evenly. Place the dish into your fridge for an hour to set.

Cut the vanilla pod open on a chopping board or I used a plate and scrape those vanilla seeds off. Best thing to do, is to mix these a bit sticky seeds with some granulated sugar. This way they are easier to use and mix with your dough or in this case with the cheese filling mix.

Clean your food processor and then add cream cheese, almond soft cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice for the filling mix. Blend until smooth.

For setting the cake I used agar flakes that are great choice for vegans. Super easy to use and clearspring has good instructions in the packaging how to use it. Basically you add cold water into a saucepan, add the flakes into the water and wait to boil without stirring. Once this is starting to boil you can stir the mix.

Add your water & agar mix into your blender. You want to blend the cream cheese mix and agar as soon as possible so the flakes will stick into the filling.

Take your pan out of the fridge and add cheese cake filling evenly on top of the cookie mix. Place dish back to the fridge and let it set over night.

I used blueberries and the leftover vanilla pod for decorations.

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Previously I would always use vanilla extract, but now experiencing the difference with vanilla pod, I don’t want to use anything else! The flavour is so strong, but smooth, just beautiful and it brings all the other flavours with it. Vanilla pod is usually a bit more pricy but worth it, I promise!

thevegescandi